Nintendo Not Worried About Competing With Mobile On Price

By M.H. Williams

Nintendo has already rejected some of the growing trends in the gaming industry today.  At GDC 2011, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata called out some mobile and social developers for creating games “that don’t maintain high value.”  Last Week, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime reiterated the point, asking if cheaper mobile titles were “such disposable content that the value quickly goes to zero?”  In a conversation with Gamasutra, 3DS project head Hideki Konno continued the company’s hard line against budget-priced content. 

“We don’t want content to be devalued. So if you’re a developer and you put some time and effort into a software title and you put it out there.  Let’s say that there’s a ton of other software out there that’s free, which forces you then to take your content which you want to sell for 10 dollars and you have to lower it down to one dollar to be competitive. It’s not a business model that’s going to make developers happy,” said Konno when asked about his opinion on games priced around the Apple App Store model.

“I’d be really excited to see a great game at a really cheap price, but I just don’t think that you could make a game that’s immersive and as big as, let’s say Call of Duty, or any other large title, and sell it at that price point; it’s just not possible. The only way that you’re going to get a game at that price point is if it’s a limited version with limited levels or something. They’re going to have to reduce it to sell at that price. So that other game — because the content is valuable — it’s still going to be a viable product at a higher price point,” Konno added.

Konno said that despite prevailing industry opinion, Nintendo doesn’t see a need to compete in the same market as iOS or Android devices.

“So now in terms of one dollar games, or free games, or whatever that is out there in the market, I mean, really, we’re not going to be competing with that,” he continued. “We’re not going to try to match that; we’re just going to continually strive to not just maintain, but increase, the quality of the entertainment that we’re providing, and let it sort itself out. Again, we’re not worried about competing at a price point level.”

“What do people choose to do with their free time? That’s what the competition is,” he said. “When we’re looking at Nintendo 3DS, we’re obviously trying to provide something that will engage people, and they say, ‘Hey, I want to choose that. That’s where I want to spend my free time.’ Rather than how other developers — whether it’s hardware or software — go about trying to compete for consumers’ time is not something that we worry too much about.”

“I’m not trying to say that I think games on cell phones are a bad thing; I’m not trying to say that they’re worthless, or have no value at all. I’m just saying that they’re just different.”

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