Nintendo Should Release Freemium Video Games
Move over, FarmVille. Animal Crossing could be the next big thing.
Download the new Animal Crossing free of charge.
The concept probably sounds alien to Nintendo fans used to forking over the usual $49.99 for the newest console release, but it's far from a pipedream. Nintendo would be wise to explore freemium games, titles that are free to download and play with the option to pay for premium content, with Animal Crossing the ideal candidate to launch such an aggressive program.
Imagine if you were able to download this Animal Crossing to a 3DS or Nintendo's upcoming system, codename Project Cafe. From there, you'd be able to explore this new village, interact with its residents, locate hidden items and set up your house. Sounds like every Animal Crossing so far, right?
Here's the kicker. To make things interesting, Nintendo would offer affordably priced content that lets you personalize the experience, letting you purchase items for your home (things like cool posters, furniture and various bits of decor), but also a virtual NES console and games to play on the TV. Head outside, and you could add flowers around the house or put a flag on the porch.
Farfetched? Not necessarily. Zynga achieved great success with a series of Facebook games (FarmVille specifically) built using this foundation. Also keep in mind that this Animal Crossing would still provide a quality and free experience, except obtaining the paid content would take considerably more time.
We bring up Animal Crossing because it's one of the few Nintendo franchises in desperate need of a shakeup. City Folk on Wii failed to achieve critical acclaim, and it remains to be seen what new direction the company intends to take. Going the freemium route with a sequel represents a much lower risk than using Pokemon.
At the same time, Nintendo could also experiment with more popular series like Mario Kart, where spending a couple of bucks for exclusive rides could boost the game's appeal.
For now, the odds of Nintendo doing this appear slim, but not entirely out of the question. It's clear that the video game industry has changed, and the publisher would be wise to branch out. That said, don't be surprised to see this sort of thing from Mario and Co. in the future.