Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of some of gaming’s most iconic series and overall creative shepherd for Nintendo, is warning the industry that getting too greedy could end up badly long term.
In remarks to the Computer Entertainment Developers Conference in Japan, Miyamoto talked about the general trend of the industry, recorded in a Bloomberg report. “We’re lucky to have such a giant market, so our thinking is, if we can deliver games at reasonable prices to as many people as possible, we will see big profits,” Miyamoto told the audience.
That statement does come with a caveat, however. “I can’t say that our fixed-cost model has really been a success,” Miyamoto added. “But we’re going to continue pushing it forward until it becomes entrenched. That way everyone can develop games in a comfortable environment. By focusing on bringing games to the widest range of people possible, we can continue boosting our mobile game business.”
Nintendo has stated a wish to avoid exploitative pricing models in their mobile games, through the late president Satoru Iwata, the former president Tatsumi Kimishima, and now Miyamoto. Current president Shuntaro Furukawa has not stated his preference, but he seems to be continuing the current methodology regarding pricing structure.
This avoidance has seemingly not worked out well for Nintendo, however. When Super Mario Run was announced two years ago, it was a rather monumental event with Apple bringing Miyamoto on stage to reveal the game. Nintendo was insistent that the game would be a fixed cost without recurring payments like most runners tend to have. In the time since, Nintendo has admitted Super Mario Run did not meet expectations for profit, a hard hit for what was supposed to be a game-changer.
Meanwhile, the free-to-play Fire Emblem Heroes has generated consistently high revenue, though nowhere near some of mobile’s biggest hits. Meanwhile, last year’s Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp was criticized for how aggressive its pricing was, often to the detriment of the game design. The best way to make money, Miyamoto argues, is to learn the lessons the music industry took too long to learn.
“It’s necessary for developers to learn to get along with” subscription-style services, according to Miyamoto. “When seeking a partner for this, it’s important to find someone who understands the value of your software. Then customers will feel the value in your apps and software and develop a habit of paying money for them.”
Nintendo’s next mobile title, Dragalia Lost, is a collaboration with GranBlue Fantasy developer CyGames. While they have mentioned that the game will be released internationally, Nintendo has not spoken much about it since it was announced earlier this year.
He’s not wrong, but Nintendo’s lack of a truly major success in mobile maybe means they can’t hold on to this idea forever. I’d rather it be right and not pursue too much in the way of free-to-play, though.