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Free-to-play titles would make DSi an "industry changer"

Acclaim's David Perry impressed with handheld, but hoped Nintendo would innovate faster rather than take "baby steps"

Acclaim boss David Perry has reacted favourably to the new model DS, although he had hoped Nintendo would innovate faster following the "amazing" launch of the Wii.

Admitting his own company interests lay in the free-to-play business, Perry believes that adopting such a model for handheld consoles would be a significant force for change in the games industry.

"Nintendo, in their handheld evolution, tend to take baby steps. The DS was a big step, it gave me hope they would keep innovating faster than normal," said Perry, speaking exclusively to GamesIndustry.biz.

"This new DS is a decent step, but based on their amazing launch of Wii, I was hoping they'd produce an 'industry-changer' for the DS."

The free-to-play model is currently being explored by company's in the PC market such as Acclaim with its portfolio of MMOs, and Electronic Arts with its forthcoming Battlefield Heroes title.

Although Nintendo has no public plans to adopt a free-to-play model yet, Perry said that the ability to download games directly to the console via the DSiWare service is a good start – provided rival manufacturers don't beat Nintendo to a free service.

"The download store is good, [Free-to-play games] would have changed everything for designers. Basically it would remove the limitations of what a handheld is capable of doing, but it would require WiFi to play those games, so maybe it’s still too early," he offered. "I think [free-to-play] would have been a game changer, but now it's over to Sony or Microsoft to make this move."

"The download store will help people play and try more games, it's a great way to allow impulse playing," he continued. "So I think that actually will help, I’m pleased Nintendo are stepping up their game as the online store they initially launched on the Wii was terrible."

Demos of games for the DSi would be a distinct advantage over Apple's iPhone, said Perry, although again, free-to-play would give Nintendo a significant lead over the Apple handheld currently wooing developers.

"It's certainly where they can beat Apple if they get developers to offer demos of all games. Apple fails on the demo front where you buy first, hoping you will like them. To compete with Apple, they will need to open up free-to-play gaming."

Perry isn't so keen on some of the other new features of the console, fearing that the built-in camera will open the system to novelty titles.

"The camera is going to produce a bunch of gimmick games, I personally don’t care about cameras for gameplay," commented Perry. "It will be fantastic for social interaction, however. I’m a big fan of anything that can bring an audience together."

Perry also offered a wish list of features he hoped would be included in the new console, including both screens becoming touch sensitive, a webcam for social chat, slicker design ("the X factor that Apple is so good at"), tilt sensing, the first "Xbox Live"-style service for handhelds and better speakers.

He also hoped the DSi would act as a "touch sensitive Wii controller" and that Nintendo would announce a Cloud Server "to host server heavy games, that make the gameplay more impressive than handheld hardware could ever produce."

Perry is not the only developer to have mixed feelings on Nintendo's new console. Team 17 boss Martyn Brown told GamesIndustry.biz that he was wary of the inclusion of an SD card slot in case it prompted more piracy on the handheld.

However, Doublesix boss James Booksby was more upbeat when the console was announced, inspired by the ability to download games directly to the DSi.

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