Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has moved to confirm that downloadable emulated versions of NES, SNES and N64 games for Nintendo's next-gen Revolution console will not generally be available for free, following speculation that all the downloadable games for the Revolution’s so-called 'Virtual Console' would be free, apparently stemming from a comment by Nintendo vice president George Harrison concerning the lack of charges to play Revolution games online.
Speaking at a Nintendo-hosted business conference in Japan, Iwata said, "There are Internet-based rumors indicating that the [Revolution's] Virtual Console will be available for play for free, but we have no plans to distribute without charge."
As unequivocal as this statement seems to be, Perrin Kaplan, Nintendo of America’s vice president of marketing & corporate affairs, speaking to consumer game site GameSpot, seems to have a somewhat different understanding of the situation: "For Revolution and accessing older games, we haven't finalized how we will structure it yet. It is possible that players will enjoy these games without a charge from Nintendo, or there may be some pay structure for accessing the actual product. We haven't finalized it yet. Our goal is to make it as easy and inexpensive as possible, which could be free."
According to Iwata, though, "We believe that there's a number of ways that we can use the system, such as to offer a bonus download with the purchase of a new game, or allow some games to be downloaded during a limited time during a campaign period." This suggests that the company is certainly intending to make some content available for free, but this is likely extra content to attract people to pay for the games, an entirely rational business model.
Finally, Iwata also confirmed for the first time that Nintendo was in talks with various companies to make third party titles available for the Virtual Console as well, commenting: "We hope to establish a format where both Nintendo and software makers will be able to make a profit by using the resources from our past."
In related news, and at the same press conference, Mario
creator Shigeru Miyamoto revealed that the Nintendo Revolution game controller, already subject of rampant speculation, had still not been finalized either in terms of hardware or exact functionality. "We're at a stage where we're adding and removing various kinds of functions, which has been very fun," he said. "The Revolution will have an interesting interface. We're investing a lot of money into the interface, and it's still not finalized."