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Nintendo’s Satoru Iwata on Free Games (He’s No Fan)

The Wall Street Journal has a two part interview with Satoru Iwata, discussing all sorts of game related things from the Wii U to the new wave of cheap and sometimes downright free games.

This fellow really hates mobile and social games.

And don’t even go there when it comes to freemium content. Here’s a few snips:

We have no intention to provide a property to any other platforms, or making them available in a mode that does not require consumers to pay at all. Nintendo is a company, which is trying to maintain the overall value of video games.

If we were simply going to say OK, the only the way we could sell more products is by decreasing the price, then there wouldn’t be a bright future and the entire industry will fold. When we look at the entire system of freemium, it’s not always that everyone is happy with the offers. Actually, there’s only a limited number of people who are willing to pay and many others are not paying for game titles at all.

Nintendo is not interested.

I’m not interested in offering software for free of charge. That’s because I myself am one of the game developers, who in the future wants to make efforts so the value of the software will be appreciated by the consumers.

That’s just a small sampling and this entire two part interview is well wroth a read. Iwata may come off a tad dickish here but I certainly understand his point of view and if Nintendo doesn’t want to start charging less for its products, that’s really their business. His view on “software value” is very interesting and I think will be a big battleground in the coming years.

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Bill Abner

Bill has been writing about games for the past 16 years for such outlets as Computer Games Magazine, GameSpy, The Escapist, GameShark, and Crispy Gamer. He will continue to do so until his wife tells him to get a real job.

9 thoughts to “Nintendo’s Satoru Iwata on Free Games (He’s No Fan)”

  1. This must be why I like Nintendo, even when they’re doing stupid shit. I cannot stand social gaming and mobile games are a couple bright spots in a sea of turds.

    Iwata has it right, from my perspective. I can easily lose an evening playing inFamous 2 but more than sixty seconds in Farmville, which is basically a click to get a notification to send money simulator, and I want to off myself.

    Social gaming is a blight to entertainment and I would be more than happy seeing it peak and die, taking Facebook with it.

    But I was raised on fun games, so I can actually tell the difference when I’m playing a game versus the game playing me. I will pay for the real thing quite happily rather than piss away a buck on something with barely an hour’s content.

    I don’t think Nintendo’s point of view is wrong here at all

  2. Nintendo hates market direction that will make them less money! Film at 11! Seriously though, it’s all fine that he hates social games and Nintendo will never do free to play, but other people are. And they’re making lots of money off it. Now, maybe it’s a giant bubble that’s going to burst any month, but regardless, they just have to compete.

  3. I don’t think they have to compete at all, really.

    Do we have numbers suggesting that the huge numbers of bored housewives and others playing Farmville are actually cutting into the market or that they would in some way ever be likely to pick up a PS3 or Wii or 360?

    It is one thing to ignore a revenue stream, quite another to say they will implode by not getting in on this now now now.

  4. Nothing you’ve said there relates to the distinction between hardcore and social gaming, merely that between good and bad gaming.

    Social gaming is not in itself a blight on entertainment. Poor quality social games, social networking disguised as games and abusive microtransaction models are all blights on entertainment. Of course, these cover at least 99% of current social gaming, but that needn’t necessarily always be the case.

    Yes, mobile gaming is mostly a “sea of turds” with a few bright spots, but that’s true of AAA games as well. The difference is how much you pay for the turds: you complain at the idea of paying a buck for barely an hour’s worth of content, but it’s easy enough to pay $60 for something with perhaps ten.

    As for wanting to end it all after 60 seconds of Farmville, all I can say to you is “Shift 2: Unleashed”.

    There is a lot of crap out there. As discerning gamers all we can do is try to pay for the good stuff and avoid experiencing the crap, whatever the price point of either.

  5. I’m sorry Iwata, but both the DS and Wii markets are veritably drowning in shovelware. I look at the shelves in my local shop and wonder why I bought either, as there’s a poor ratio of great games to cheap crap that can get churned out on demand.

    And all the re-releasing their stuff, or giving Mario a new hat and some new levels doesn’t give Nintendo a free pass to feel like they’re the shit. Just because your stuff sells doesn’t mean it’s the best. It just means you sell a lot of it.

    I’d honestly class Nintendo games as the most overpriced in Ireland. The prices stay up for ages, and most of the shelves are just Mario, Pokemon, Zelda and then the sea of things like Ubisofts “Imagine” line. Personally, I feel they have some of the worst “software value” going. Asking too much for something that offers too little.

    Also, they can stick “maintaining value” where the sun can’t penetrate. All he’s saying is “Well, all we care about is the money and we can’t find a way to make money off freemium, so we’ll never look into it”.

  6. Oh, I dunno. I think the Wii tapped pretty hardcore into the casual market. The same market being tapped into by social games now. And I think the DS/3DS tapped into the mobile market — the same market being tapped into by mobile games. That could be why you’re seemingly hearing Nintendo bitch more lately about the social/mobile market than Microsoft/Sony has. Microsoft and Sony didn’t make/market their systems primarily to the casual, and both have the hardware to try and tap into the mobile market in some way at least (with the new Win7 phones and Sony/Ericsson doing PSPhone or whatever it is).

  7. It’s true for card and board games too. In video games there has been shovelware as long as videogame have existed. There have been crap webgames as long as there’s been an internet. I think the only difference is they have learned how to monetize the games. Farmville really isn’t much different from The Sims except for the social and micro-transactions elements. I’ve never played any of the Facebook games, but mostly because I don’t like online gaming and I have plenty of other games to play to be bothered. If other folks like them power to them. As the old saying goes, ‘follow your bliss.’

  8. At least the shovelware on the Apple app stores is priced low. It’s like a Big Mac. You know it’s crap, but it’s so cheap that it doesn’t really matter as much.

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