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Reader Discussion: Is Nintendo's Free-To-Play Foray The Right Move?

Nintendo isn't exactly known for being on the vanguard of gaming trends, but recently the company has been experimenting with some free-to-play 3DS titles. Do you think the company is on the right track, or would you rather have Nintendo stick to its traditional price model?

During yesterday's Nintendo Direct, president Satoru Iwata announced Rusty's Real Deal Baseball, a baseball-themed minigame compilation for the 3DS. Unlike most of Nintendo's first-party offerings, the new game – which stars an ex-baseball-playing dog named Rusty Slugger – will be free to download, but users will have to purchase individual minigames for $4 apiece. Nintendo also launched its sequel to Steel Diver yesterday as a free-to-play title; players can download and play the multiplayer portion of the game without spending a dime, but must shell out cash for the full single-player experience.

I can understand Nintendo's desire to experiment in the free-to-play space, but I don't think Rusty's Real Deal Baseball and Steel Diver will give the company the results it's looking for. I'm sure more people will download the base games than if they had traditional up-front price tags, but I doubt either title is compelling enough to make players spend more cash on them. If anything, most gamers will probably play for ten minutes, feel like they've got a good idea of what the game offers, and move on to other games.

For a free-to-play approach to work, a game has to be so good you don't want to put it down. Nintendo has plenty of franchises that fit the bill – Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, and Pokémon to name but a few – but I wouldn't want to see microtransactions injected into any of them, and I doubt other gamers would either. In my opinion, Nintendo should stick to what it knows best: Creating games that are so much fun that fans won't think twice about paying for them before they start playing.

Do you think Nintendo should abandon its experiments with free-to-play titles, or is there a side to the argument that I'm missing? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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