Old School Vs. New School
Shigeru Miyamoto, 65 year old creator of massive hit Nintendo titles like Super Mario, Donkey Kong, and The Legend of Zelda, has made his voice heard against the industry’s recent move towards the free-to-play model which is currently dominating the international gaming scene. Driving these record profits in the world gaming industry are loot boxes and microtransactions implemented by these free to play games which have their player base fueled by the massively growing popularity of esports.
Despite having a dominate presence in the gaming industry and being known as a giant producer of games, Japan has just recently found itself jumping on the esports bandwagon. Esports, short for electronic sports, is a term the professional gaming scene has adopted and boy is it a growing industry. The global revenue generated through esports is projected to break $900 million this year, which is a 38% growth from 2017. But what popular game titles are dominating the professional gaming scene, you may ask. The largest prize pools totals, all over $51 million, for tournaments generating the most views world wide on streaming sites are free-to-play titles like League of Legends, Starcraft, and Dota 2.
The industry has shown the clear path forward, will Nintendo be forced to follow suit?
Mr. Miyamoto made his case at the Computer Entertainment Developers Conference held in Yokohama this past Wednesday saying, “We’re lucky to have such a giant market, so our thinking is, if we can deliver games at reasonable prices to as many people as possible, we will see big profits.” Miyamoto is highly critical of the free-to-play money grabbing model which instead of charging an initial price for their game seeks to make profits from continually prompting players to make in-game purchases of virtual outfits or betting to win rare items. However, it is exactly these kinds of models that increase the longevity of games and make for more predictable profits which in turn attracts the attention of investors.
“The simplicity and good-natured intention fostered during the birth of the video game industry pitted up against the complexity of this profit driven world it has grown into.”
How do the players see it?
For gamers this can be seen as a fight between the old and the new. The simplicity and well natured intention fostered during the birth of the video game industry pitted up against the complexity of this profit driven world it has grown into. Shigeru Miyamoto embodies the pursuit of creating good software and his pursuit is to develop a culture of paying for quality software. Will he succeed in maintaining Nintendo’s one-time cost model or will they give in to the free-to-play wave and embrace the future? Either way Nintendo will have a massive influence on how the industry will develop going forward.