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Miyamoto: Game devs must avoid becoming reliant on free-to-play

"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."

Super Mario and Zelda designer Shigeru Miyamoto has warned developers about becoming over-reliant on the free-to-play model, as they could end up shooting themselves in the foot.

Speaking at a dev conference in Japan, as reported by Bloomberg, the Nintendo veteran implored his fellow game makers to keep releasing titles at fixed price points, claiming that's the key to creating an industry with long-term sustainability. 

"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," he said.

Of course, Miyamoto's views aren't necessarily reflected in Nintendo's own business plan, especially on the mobile front. 

The company's first smartphone title, Super Mario Run, looked to ditch free-to-play by charging a one-time fee of $9.99 to unlock the full experience. The response to that tactic was mixed, however, and sales failed to meet expectations

After that, Nintendo adopted a more traditional freemium model for its next two mobile releases, Fire Emblem Heroes and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, and while the latter has drawn criticism its cynical use of in-app purchases, the former has become a big earner.

Still, Miyamoto believes its important for developers to understand the value of their own product, and while he accepts free-to-play titles won't vanish completely, he suggests overindulgence could condition consumers to expect more and more content for free.

"It's necessary for developers to learn to get along with [subscription-style services]," Miyamoto said. “When seeking a partner for this, it’s important to find someone who understands the value of your software. Then customers will feel the value in your apps and software and develop a habit of paying money for them."

To hear more from Miyamoto, be sure to check out the full article on Bloomberg.

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