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Iconic video game creator Shigeru Miyamoto had some candid words for the game industry while speaking at the Computer Entertainment Developers Conference this week in Yokohama, Japan.
Miyamoto, who created such legendary characters as Mario, Zelda and Donkey Kong, spoke to the current hot-button issues affecting the gaming landscape today: free-to-play and microtransactions.
“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 said.
Miyamoto’s comments come the same week that the NPD Group announced that the Nintendo Switch topped sales charts for the month of July. Five of the 10 best-selling titles for the month were released for the Switch exclusively: Octopath Traveler (No. 1), Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (No. 3), The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (No. 5), Super Mario Odyssey (No. 7) and Mario Tennis Aces (No. 10).
While the Switch is enjoying massive success currently (the console is the only platform that boats year-over-year growth in full-game sales in July, up 70 percent from 2017), the overall revenue leader on consoles continues to be the free-to-play, cross-platform title Fortnite — though the Epic Games battle royale game did see revenue growth slow in July.
Nintendo has offered free-to-play games of their own in the past. The mobile game Super Mario Run, which debuted in 2016, is free to download, but offers a one-time price to unlock the full content, a drastically different model than most free-to-play titles which feature various microtransactions throughout the game to drive revenue. On the other hand, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, another free-to-play title that was released last year by Nintendo, does feature traditional microtransactions.
“I can’t say that our fixed-cost model has really been a success, but we’re going to continue pushing it forward until it becomes entrenched,” Miyamoto said. “By focusing on bringing games to the widest range of people possible, we can continue boosting our mobile-game business.”
On the console side, Nintendo has received criticism recently for remastering Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, a game originally released on the Wii U in 2014, on the Switch and charging a full $59.99 for a title that is four years old.
Nintendo has a number of upcoming mobile games planned. Dragalia Lost, a free-to-play action RPG developed by Nintendo alongside mobile-game studio Cygames that will feature microtransactions, is expected to release this year, while a mobile version of the Mario Kart franchise, Mario Kart Tour, is slated to be available for download in 2019.
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