Nintendo has begun an experiment. If you own a 3DS, you’ve seen it in action. You might have even been one of the guinea pigs. The company has been dabbling in free-to-play and free-to-try affairs, since that’s the way the world seems to be shifting. It started with a slight stumble, but honestly the idea isn’t exactly horrible and is off to a good start.
The stumble was Pokemon Shuffle , of course. Genius Sonority’s title is entertaining enough. I find it more entertaining than Pokemon Battle Trozei , to be honest. Sure, it has a stamina system issue, which only allows people five turns at a time before locking them out unless they pay real money to keep playing or wait for health to recharge. But, provided someone is patient, it can be a lot of fun. A shambling beginning, but at least it held some promise as the base game was good.
Things went a bit better with Pokemon Rumble World . The gameplay wasn’t as sound, since the beat’em up simplified the (already quite simple) Pokemon Rumble mechanics with one-button gameplay, but the freemium aspects were handled much better in this release. Diamonds are doled out fairly regularly to players who are willing to invest time into the game. There’s no stamina system. It’s all about patience. Though it is good to know that if someone does spend real cash, the amount able to be spent maxes out at $30/3,000 diamonds. It ends up transforming the title into something closer to free-to-try, rather than free-to-play.
It’s a trend that continued with Stretchmo , the latest Pushmo installment. This free-to-try offering lets people access a seven level tutorial to see if the affair as a whole is worth a purchase. It isn’t fully free, but the idea of distributing a game on the eShop that’s basically a demo that unlocks if you enjoy and then spend $2.99, $4.99, or $9.99 for the level packs is rather ingenius.
We can only wonder if we’ll see it happen again with Denpa Men RPG Free , Genius Sonority’s other free-to-play 3DS game that’s currently available in Japan. It takes the Denpa Men formula and allows people access to most things, but not all. Items and some other elements cost real cash, but it is still possible to enjoy the general ambiance without spending any money.
The direction Nintendo is taking with its free-to-play and free-to-try games is heartening. It feels like the company is trying to make titles that would make money, but also not entirely betray people who go in hoping to enjoy something for nothing. Yes, Pokemon Shuffle wasn’t the strongest start, but the ensuing titles’ progress is encouraging.