According to a statement made by Global Nintendo president Satoru Iwata in a Jan. 6 interview released by Japanese news site Nikkei, a new business model may be in the works that will see free-to-play gaming in new franchises on Nintendo gaming systems. Satoru had the following to say on the matter (translation from NeoGAF):
"We [as an industry] can now do distribution by digital means as well as micro-transactions, and the ways to obtain money through supporting entertainment have increased. It's a change in our landscape; competing in game-quality, and working on how money is obtained, I think both are things that require creativity. Therefore, I have no intention of denying charged games, or the free-to-play model."
Nintendo currently offers full digital releases of games for download, and has recently began offering downloadable content just like the PS3 and 360, but free-to-play is something of a big change on the horizon for a developer widely known for sticking to the old ways and being rather reluctant to change.
Iwata went on to say that while they are considering the free-to-play model, it will only be on new franchises introduced to Nintendo gaming systems. Fan favorites such as Mario, Pokemon and other games with an already established fan base will remain untouched and unchanged by the introduction of a free-to-play or "cheap-to-play" model, should Nintendo decide to explore that option in the future.
"Our sales methods have been freed up and I have no desire to extinguish that freedom. If we were to release something like that, it is not a betrayal but the birth of an interesting idea through our new found freedom, that's all."