The house that Mario built's always been a step behind the curve, but no more. After a dramatic price cut to the four-month-old 3DS, Nintendo's revealed its plans to offer downloadable content (DLC) and micro transactions through its eShop for the glasses-free handheld and the upcoming Wii U console.
Andriasang reports that Nintendo is working on a paid micro transaction system for its newest platforms. 3DS developers will get to take advantage of the feature first, with Wii U developers following behind.
Microtransactions and DLC have existed for years. Microsoft popularized it on home consoles with its Xbox Live and Sony followed suit with its PlayStation Network.
Extending a Game's Replay With DLC
Many years ago, developers shipped finished games, and polished them up until the very last minutes before they went to get pressed onto discs and cartridges, but with DLC, games have greater replay value long after gamers finish them.
Games like Grand Theft Auto 4, Modern Warfare 2 and Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood are a testament to just how much gamers crave DLC. Rockstar's even said that L.A. Noire is not complete, and plans to support it with additional cases.
It's Only $2 For That Costume
Then we have micro transactions, those little digital payments here and there for sexy new character costumers, accessories for your Xbox Live or PSN Home avatar, new items, etc. All those things cost only a few bucks, but when you get addicted to tricking out your virtual pad or buying sweet outfits for your Sackboys in LittleBigPlanet 2, suddenly you've got a $100 charge on your credit card bill.
Yes, it's scary.
But it's also a big business for game publishers. That's why Nintendo is getting into the game. However, as always, the company is still hesitant to throw all its chips in the pool.
A Business Too Big to Ignore
Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto's expressed interest in offering additional stages and items for a small price, but Nintendo president Satoru Iwata is worried that paying to unlock abilities or increase stats is only a cheap thrill that devalues a game's full worth.
Quick high or not, gamers have proven they're willing to pay for in-game bonuses such as additional items, secret weapons, faster cars, etc. If Nintendo isn't going to sell us a few extra shrooms or fireball flowers to defeat Bowser on the final level, that's fine, but don't cripple the 3DS and Wii U by not letting third-party publishers do so efficiently with their own games.
The Wii had extremely limited DLC and micro transactions via its Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection: Pay & Play service with games like Guitar Hero an Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, but it's time for Nintendo to step up its digital game.
We're just hoping it's not all fluff talk this time around and Nintendo's actually serious about this stuff. Considering how Nintendo is losing money on every new 3DS after next month's price cut (it's never lost money on a system before), we'd say there's little room for failure anymore.