Opinion: Animal Crossing 3DS would be the perfect time for Nintendo to try out F2P

Pay off Tom Nook's mortgage in monthly instalments... no, wait: come back!

Opinion: Animal Crossing 3DS would be the perfect time for Nintendo to try out F2P

If you play a lot of mobile games, you'll have no doubt heard the term 'free-to-play' before. Many times before.

Basically, it means that a game is free to download, but contains some in-game items that require real-world cash to obtain.

It's fair to say that the free-to-play business model is growing in popularity in the mobile space, and is also gaining traction in others areas of the video game industry.

Even Microsoft and Sony are trying to get in on the action, with free-to-play titles for both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 popping up here and there.

Nintendo is a little more stuck in its ways than its competitors, however, and its executives have previously said that to make a game free to play is to remove its value and undersell it.

They very well may have a point, but in reality to ignore free to play completely is to potentially fall behind the pack.

Nintendo should, at least, give the F2P model a crack at some point soon - and I reckon the upcoming Animal Crossing game for 3DS (known as Animal Forest: Jump Out in Japan, and as Animal Crossing: New Leaf in the US) would be the perfect time to do so.


Of all of Nintendo's franchises, Animal Crossing is surely the most perfect fit for the F2P business model.

Many developers of free-to-play experiences successfully monetise their games through vanity items (virtual goods that don't give you an advantage in the game, but simply enhance the experience), and, wouldn't you know it, Animal Crossing is full of them.

From purchasing seeds for planting around your town, to grabbing furniture for your house, there are plenty of opportunities for Nintendo to monetise Animal Crossing while offering the main gameplay for free.

I'm not talking about handing over real money to pay off your Tom Nook mortgage. Rather, you'd receive the entire game for free, but a selection of the items in the game would cost cold hard cash.

Jump in

There are plenty of other good reasons for Ninty to convert Animal Crossing into a free-to-play title.

For one thing, because it would have to be a download-only game, it would automatically drive a huge number of people to the eShop, where they may well explore the store a little more and purchase some other games, too.

Furthermore, the game could make great use of the 3DS's notifications system. Nintendo could perhaps run weekly special offers and introduce new items on a regular basis. All of that should encourage players to revisit the eShop multiple times over.

And, really, what 3DS owner would turn down the chance to grab the game for free? You can imagine that a huge portion of 3DS owners would just grab it on a whim, and maybe end up enjoying it. These may well be gamers who had no intention of playing it in the first place.

There will no doubt be players who read this and shout, "NO! None of that free-to-play rubbish in my Nintendo franchise!" Admittedly, I'd normally be one of those people.

But, when you step back and think about it, the F2P model would probably actually serve Animal Crossing well, as long as the main spectacle wasn't messed around with too much and only vanity items cost real-world money.

Mike Rose
Mike Rose
An expert in the indie games scene, Mike comes to Pocket Gamer as our handheld gaming correspondent. He is the author of 250 Indie Games You Must Play.