Maybe Nintendo Was Serious About That "Free-To-Start" Talk

Jason Winter
By Jason Winter, News Editor April 10, 2015
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Pokemon Rumble

A few weeks ago, I gave my thoughts to Nintendo CEO and President Satoru Iwata's comments about how "free-to-play" should really be "free-to-start." For the moment, at least, it looks like Nintendo is serious about taking efforts to be more "fair" about its F2P practices.

A Redditor has posted an analysis of Pokémon Rumble World's monetization, which he describes as initially appearing to be a typical F2P game with timers, microtransactions, and the like. The difference? You can only buy a certain number of gems, priced between $30 and $41 depending on what package you purchase, before the game shuts you off from buying any more. Not this month or this week, but forever. You still receive a few gems every day, but that's it. A commenter on that post says that Nintendo does the same with Pokémon Shuffle, which limits spending to around $80.

I did uncover evidence that spending limits, when enforced by government agencies, can be ruinous to F2P games, but maybe that's because the games mentioned in this article were built to, well, exploit whales, which is certainly not the approach Nintendo is taking. On the other hand, can what Nintendo is doing qualify as "free-to-play"? It's really more like a free trial, after which you effectively buy the full game and never have to pay again. Maybe "free-to-start" really is the better moniker.

Pokémon is still a lucrative property, and Nintendo could probably make a lot more money by going the usual F2P route, or even just allowing a certain amount of purchases per month, rather than having a hard "lifetime" limit. Then again, maybe the company doesn't want to risk negative stories of people blowing through thousands of dollars per month -- or of their kids accidentally racking up huge charges -- which could damage the kid-friendly brand.

Of course, we're sure this approach will still seem like a "F2P scam" to someone. Comments, don't disappoint!

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In this article: Nintendo, Pokemon.

About the Author

Jason Winter
Jason Winter, News Editor
Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.

Discussion (16)

Dan 6 years ago
In the past few years I've seen so many disappointments, that my view of free-to-play games has become quite dim of late. The only way to recover the lost reputation is to see games which aren't designed from the beginning to exploit players.

That's why I think Nintendo's way is an interesting concept which should see more wide-spread use. It certainly can't hurt and I don't see the danger of this being a scam either.

jellopy 6 years ago
Nintendo never made it past the early nineties with their understanding of the business end of gaming. They don't have the slightest clue of how to approach independent devs or free to play in general. They need to completely gut their financial department on a level even greater than Square Enix right now or they won't make it another five years in the console market.

Eviil 6 years ago
Since the popularity is extremely high with this and we will probably see a wide variety of age buying this. I would say its a good call for Nintendo.

Nintendo would always try to not let anyone badmouth the company, the last thing they want to see is a newspaper that says a whole bunch of crap such as;
kid steals parent card to buy Pokemon virtual goods online
a person blames Nintendo for losing his apartment
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Nintendo is known for looking at the peoples quality of life and plan to branch out away from just focusing video games. You can say that they gave that example when the wii fit was created.
A qoute form Iwata "At the start of this year, I finally figured that the concept of 'improving people's quality of life with fun,' with emphasis on the 'fun', would be perfect for Nintendo. And that's why I decided to focus on this during the financial results meeting in January."
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Apparently hes always thinking about entertainment and fun and how to implement it into video games. His definition of fun involves activity rather than sitting as a couch potato.

Rockmeo 6 years ago
Im with seanny , An yet pokemon is not cheap , and will never be cheap , for example pokemon tcg

PandaStick 6 years ago
Nintendo is more greedy than Microsoft, expect bs game with p2w. Don't trust me? look at their policy about youtube video with their game on it.

View 1 reply
Seanny Chwan 6 years ago
haha .. yup pokemon is a kid friendly brand ..
But most of the players are not "kids"

View 1 reply

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