In case you missed the news, Nintendo makes mobile apps now. We saw the company's first Android app, Miitomo, come stateside at the end of March. A month later, that game had attracted over 10 million users around the world. Miitomo is more of a social network than a playable experience, but it does contain mini-games. The app has made Nintendo more money than expected.
Two "pure-game apps" are coming next, based on Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem. And as the chief executive of DeNA (Nintendo's mobile development partner) told The Wall Street Journal, “Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing are both free-to-start apps.”
What does free-to-start mean? Well, it means they will be free-to-play, only there's a guarantee that the titles will cost money at some point down the road. You could say this is disappointing, but you could also say it's a more honest approach than most freemium titles, which lure players in with the promise of free but end up costing an arm and a leg. Though for long-time Nintendo fans, the ideal would be letting players pay upfront for the full experience.
Ultimately the free-to-start-play-ium approach suits Nintendo's mobile strategy, which is to attract more people to its traditional consoles. The company wants as many eyes on its titles as possible, even if it does intend to charge money once they're looking.
- The Wall Street Journal