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Nintendo market research hints at Virtual Console pricing structure

Excerpts from one of Nintendo's market research questionnaires have appeared on the Internet, providing an indication of the potential pricing structure for downloading classic Nintendo software titles.

Excerpts from one of Nintendo's market research questionnaires have appeared on the Internet, providing an indication of the potential pricing structure for downloading classic Nintendo software titles.

The survey, conducted by marketing company Zanthus, focuses on the forthcoming Nintendo Revolution games console, which is set to include functionality for wireless downloads of classic NES, SNES and N64 software, in addition to reading GameCube discs.

Dubbed the 'Virtual Console', Nintendo's plans were initially revealed following the issuing of a technology patent in October 2005. At the time however, scare details on the system were revealed, and a pricing structure for the service continues to generate speculation in the industry.

In June 2005, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata spoke at a business strategy conference in Japan, confirming that the company would not be providing back-catalogue titles free of charge.

Iwata did suggest however, that some titles may be used as a promotional incentive. For example, by offering a free dowload of a classic title with pre-orders of its next-generation iteration.

"We hope to create a system which allows both Nintendo and [third-party publishers] to make a profit by using [software titles] from the past," Iwata stated at the time.

According to the information from a market research questionnaire undertaken by website Classicgamer.com, the company has highlighted three potential pricing structures. The first is a monthly flat-rate subscription charge of USD 14.99, which would allow gamers to access and play any of the available titles from all three retro consoles at any time. By comparison, NES titles were listed at approximately USD 2.99, whilst several N64 titles were listed at a significanty higher USD 19.99.

The questionnaire is, of course, only an indication of the intended pricing structure, and the figures are subject to change at Nintendo's discretion. A statement from Nintendo of America reads:

"Nintendo is considering a variety of options for the virtual console service for our next console, code-named Revolution, although details have not been announced at this time. In our normal course of business, Nintendo conducts consumer research for many of our products with information and imagery that do not represent actual product specifics."

Full disclosure of the company's intentions, both in terms of a launch strategy and its overall pricing structure for the Revolution console and Virtual Console service is expected to be announced at the E3 expo in May 2006.

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