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After experimenting with free-to-play games over the past couple of years, recent comments from Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto hint at a future dedicated to flat-cost games and subscription services. It's a route he'd like to see the rest of the industry stick to as, in his mind, it creates a more respectful relationship with the customer.
Recently speaking during the Computer Entertainment Developers Conference in Yokohama, Japan, and reported by The Japan Times, Miyamoto does not appear to be impressed with the ecosystem established by free-to-play games. Keep in mind that Nintendo has been experimenting, and finding success, with that model recently, buy Miyamoto himself feels microtransactions and the like do not have the industry's best interest at heart.
Keep in mind that Miyamoto is the guy who created Super Mario Bros., so he's been in the game's industry quite a while and has seen it go through many ups and downs. His philosophy seems to be the exact opposite of what many other publishers and developers are striving for these days, "Microtransactions" have become a major buzzword in recent years, with developers finding any way possible to shoehorn them into existing titles and design them as driving forces in newer IP. Cosmetic items you used to be able to simply earn through playing, for instance, are now part of a loot box system in games like Call of Duty: WW II. And then there's Star Wars Battlefront II, which was not only nearly sunk because of these types of money-making practices, but led to more than a few discussions about whether or not loot box systems should be considered gambling.
As Miyamoto puts it, that's the wrong way to think of the consumer. Instead of nickel and diming the folks supporting your game, Miyamoto is calling for developers to make quality games instead and sell them for a fair price to as many people as possible. Crazy, right? He goes so far to admit that this method might not be as financially successful as a more traditional route, but he thinks it's essential for the survival of the industry.
In recent years, Nintendo has dipped its toe into less traditional methods of developing and delivering games. Super Mario Run was a flat-fee mobile game that many felt asked too much for too little content. Keep in mind that it was selling for $10 but, on the mobile market, folks frequently start clutching pearls if everything isn't available for zero dollars upfront. So, yeah, $10 probably sounds like a fortune to that particular pool of consumers.
Along with "make a good game and sell it at a decent price," Miyamoto also said that the industry should more seriously consider subscription services. That seems to be exactly what Nintendo is trying with their upcoming Switch premium service, which will include access to a bunch of classic Nintendo games as part of a $20 annual fee to gain access to online features.