Nintendo games may get cheaper for people who buy more of them

In an effort to encourage its customers to buy more games, Nintendo may experiment with "flexible price points" — for example, dropping prices on games as a customer buys more of them or recommends titles to friends, said Nintendo president Satoru Iwata during a policy briefing today.

"Based on our account system, if we can offer flexible price points to consumers who meet certain conditions, we can create a situation where these consumers can enjoy our software at cheaper price points when they purchase more," Iwata said.

According to Iwata, Nintendo's implementation of the Nintendo Network ID (NNID) across Wii U and Nintendo 3DS facilitates this price experimentation, because it changes Nintendo's relationship to its customers: An account-based relationship, as opposed to a device-based one, allows the company to form "long-term relationships with individual consumers, unaffected by the lifespans of our systems."

"We aim to establish a new sales mechanism that will be beneficial to both consumers and software creators"

Iwata pointed out that the way platform holders price hardware and software has changed relatively little over the past 30 years: Companies charge a few hundred dollars for consoles and handhelds, and then ask customers to pay $30 to $60 or so for individual games. But Nintendo is recognizing that this model won't work forever "amid dynamic changes in people's lifestyles."

"For example, until now it has been taken for granted that software is offered to users at the same price regardless of how many titles they purchase in a year, be it one, five or even 10 titles," Iwata said.

He said that he hopes that experimenting with new pricing models could lead to more people buying and playing games on Nintendo platforms.

"When we see our overall consumers, they generally play two or three titles per year," Iwata said. "We aim to establish a new sales mechanism that will be beneficial to both consumers and software creators by encouraging our consumers to play more titles and increasing a platform's active use ratio without largely increasing our consumers' expenditures."

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