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Nintendo eyes free-to-play, subscriptions and micro-payments as it expands digital business

Online sales for traditionally packaged games is just Nintendo's first step in expanding their digital business, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata told a group of investors.

"We will not simply change our existing packaged software distribution channel," he said. "Rather, we might have many other types of business models in addition to packaged software. For example, we might see more games that are similar to free-to-play games, games that cost much less or games that require a monthly subscription fee."

Selling games online gives the company much more flexibility, he said, because it increases the way payments can be made.

"Nintendo 3DS and Wii U have flexible systems to handle such trends, so it is now a question of putting these ideas into action," he said. "I can definitely say that Nintendo will make new offers that go well beyond simply replacing packaged software with digital software."

Nintendo's push to support Suica e-money cards is driven in part by a desire to make it easier for people to make quick, small payments on the Wii U, Iwata said.

"If this becomes a reality, it will be easier for consumers to pay for products and services such as, Wii Street U powered by Google, add-on content for games or pay-per-view options in VOD (Video on Demand) services," he said "and I feel that there will be more ways for consumers to take advantage of these options."