When the news first broke back in March that Nintendo would be moving into the world of mobile games through a partnership with DeNA, there was some uncertainty around what business model Nintendo would employ. While free-to-play is the dominant model on mobile and DeNA's games are free-to-play, Nintendo management has made numerous comments in the past about free mobile titles affecting the industry and potentially damaging vital IP.
The late Satoru Iwata discussed earlier this year the concerns Nintendo had about damaging trust with its customers. Would Nintendo really want to apply the free-to-play model to its cherished properties like Mario and Zelda? How would players react to in-app purchases in the middle of a Mario game? We might find out the answers to these questions in the near future as DeNA's chief executive Isao Moriyasu confirmed during an earnings briefing Wednesday that "games currently in the pipeline are all free to play," as reported by the Wall Street Journal.
The first title from Nintendo on mobile will be Miitomo, which some would say is more akin to a communication tool like WeChat than an actual game. DeNA and Nintendo plan to release five titles by March 2017; it'll be interesting to see what kind of reaction Miitomo actually gets when it releases next year and how Nintendo chooses to follow that up. It's important to note that Nintendo hasn't ruled out premium paid mobile games either. As our own Rob Fahey pointed out, new Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima alluded to paid mobile titles during his first meeting with investors.