Despite facing increased competition from all new fronts in the form of low priced (if not free) gaming on smartphones and popular social networking platforms, Nintendo is in no hurry to explore similar "freemium" business models which are at the very core of mobile and social games. As developer, publisher and console hardware platform designer at once, Nintendo feels it would be doing a disservice to the core business it is trying to support by embracing free or next-to-free gaming.
We'd imagine making money off of retail software sales remains a driving reason, but Nintendo's President Satoru Iwata also reiterates his company's belief in maintaining the "value of games", in other words their "worth" as entertainment (and Nintendo's bottom line, of course!). Speaking to The Wall Street Journal:
"I’m not interested in offering software for free of charge. That’s because I myself am one of the game developers, who in the future wants to make efforts so the value of the software will be appreciated by the consumers.
"It’s not just the end result. We can’t simply compare the total revenue generated at the consequence of developing one thing. My point is about how we can keep the public’s perception of the software."
Iwata also questions the sustainability of "freemium" business models over the long run.
If there are challenges to Nintendo's core business model, Iwata explains that it will be his company's job to rise to answer these challenges in their own way, with "unique and unprecedented ideas that have to be more attractive than other devices and companies".
Perhaps this line of thinking is what inspired the development behind the new Wii U and its new touchscreen controller, designed to work in tandem with gameplay on the television.