Nintendo will launch its first game with a free-to-play business model later this year. Speaking to IGN, veteran designer Shigeru Miyamoto said that the title could be shown off "relatively soon," and would be based on the 3DS game Steel Diver.
"There is something we're doing with the Steel Diver idea that I think is going to open things up with that game... It's going to be very fun. We're exploring from a perspective of where we can take that from a multiplayer standpoint — it's going to have this four-player battle mode that I think is going to be very interesting."
Steel Diver came out alongside the 3DS in early 2011. Its slow-paced, side-scrolling action gameplay involves controlling a submarine with virtual levers and buttons displayed on a touchscreen.
Nintendo hopes to explore "balanced and reasonable" free-to-play games
Miyamoto said that the game's business model was still under consideration, and he did not announce what platform it will be released on. Nintendo was slow to offer paid downloadable content in its own releases compared to competitors, but started experimenting with the concept last year in titles such as New Super Mario Bros 2.
President Satoru Iwata said at E3 last week that Nintendo would release its first free-to-play title in the current fiscal year, adding that there are no plans to adopt such a pricing scheme with major series such as Mario or Pokemon. Such brands, said Iwata, have built a "sufficient degree of trust with our consumers who are willing to pay a certain sum of money to purchase our products as packaged software." Instead, Nintendo hopes to explore "balanced and reasonable" free-to-play games "in order to have a favorable long-term relationship" with its customers.