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Shigeru Miyamoto Has a Warning for the Games Industry

The Willy Wonka of video games gets serious.

News by Matt Kim, .

Shigeru Miyamoto appears to be pushing back against the free-to-play monetization model and is instead advocating for quality products sold for fixed prices. Something Miyamoto argues will create a healthier marketplace in the games industry for everyone.

At the Computer Entertainment Developers Conference in Yokohama, Japan Miyamoto told the audience, "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."

Bloomberg reported that rather than focusing on free-to-play models that earn money through aggressive microtransactions, Miyamoto pushed for a fixed-cost model. "I can't say that our fixed-cost model has really been a success," says Miyamoto. "But we're going to continue pushing it forward until it becomes entrenched. That way everyone can develop games in a comfortable environment. By focusing on bringing games to the widest range of people possible, we can continue boosting our mobile game business.”"

Animal Crossing Pocket Camp is said to have inconvenient microtransactions.

In the past year, microtransactions and mechanics such as loot boxes have come under fire from consumers and government agencies. Some say loot boxes are like gambling and governments in Belgium and Netherlands agree. Loot boxes are now banned in both of those countries.

At the same time, Nintendo also offers free-to-play mobile games with microtransactions like Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and Fire Emblem Heroes. Nintendo is planning two more free-to-play mobile games like Mario Kart Tour and Dragalia Lost. The latter in partnership with CyberAgent Inc. which Bloomberg notes as having come under fire for "aggressive" monetization.

Still, Miyamoto seems to be in favor of marketing games with a cost to convey value and quality. Miyamoto also spoke about streaming in today's digital age and said that streaming should become a bigger part of the games industry, but still keeping with the cost and value ethos.

"When seeking a partner for [subscription-style services], it's important to find someone who understands the value of your software," says Miyamoto. "The customers will feel the value in your apps and software and develop a habit of paying money for them."

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Comments 4

  • Avatar for Frosty840 #1 Frosty840 26 days ago
    I know several people who've spent hundreds of dollars on mobile gacha games. Money I'd have said they really shouldn't have been spending on that, in every case. Certainly none of them are wealthy enough that I'd say they have money to shovel into random number generators for purely cosmetic rewards.

    There's something very dangerous about this kind of Skinner box software (I sometimes use the term "game-like experience") that gives positive feedback for meaningless/costly actions. It makes for oddly compelling bad gameplay, and it makes for frighteningly compelling compulsive microtransactioning.

    One of those people I mentioned "only spends money during sales", on these things. I can't even.
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  • Avatar for Ohoni #2 Ohoni 26 days ago
    I think microtransactions are fine, so long as it's in balance. First, NEVER charge money for RNG, that's gambling and should have no place in a game unless it is a game only about gambling (like poker). Second, make sure that players can have most of the things for free, and all of the things within a reasonable total amount of money, and monetize time rather than absolute access.

    Make it so that if you want to earn things for free, it may take weeks or even months for each "item," so long as it's both fun to play along the way (ie no "oh, you have to stop having fun now unless you pay up" chokepoints or painfully boring grind), but then offer shortcuts to players that are willing to spend for it. Make it so that someone who plays from the start can keep up with the release of new content, but that new players along the way might have to pay a bit to catch up with the meta.

    It's a delicate balance, but done right it allows for a healthy population of F2Pers, whales who just dump money to get a little added convenience, and dolphins who happily spend a few bucks a month to obtain a reasonable edge.
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  • Avatar for Flipsider99 #3 Flipsider99 25 days ago
    I think Miyamoto is just completely right. Those kind of skinner box, underhanded business practices are certainly going to come back and bite the games industry hard, and I think we're already seeing it to some extent. Fortunately, the backlash that has been happening the last year or so seems to be starting to curb the excess a little bit, so maybe we'll see a trend of more companies embracing a more ethical approach.
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  • Avatar for MetManMas #4 MetManMas 25 days ago
    I'm not got gonna say I haven't spent money on microtransactions, but I haven't spent much money on microtransactions. Like, maybe I'll throw a buck or two a game's way if I like it, but generally only if I have a little extra funny money left over after buying something bigger.
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