It’s news that may have been overlooked by many gamers this week, but Nintendo announcing its first free-to-play game is worth reiterating in light of all the success and buzz the PS4 and Xbox One have had at E3. Nintendo’s first free-to-play game will arrive by March 2014.
The March 2014 date isn’t arbitrary; it’s the end of the game maker’s current fiscal year. Unfortunately, it wasn’t clear whether the “by March 2014” reference means the free game will appear this holiday season — which would make sense in light of the Xbox One release date and PS4 release date in November — or whether it’ll hit next spring.
It also was uncertain which Nintendo game would be free to play, and which platform it would appear on. Most free-to-play games appear on iPhone, iPad and Android devices, as well as PCs, with a few free-to-play games currently available on the consoles as well. Logic would say that Nintendo would only release a free-to-play game on one of its own systems, though, not on a competing device.
With that said, if Nintendo were to move into the mobile space, for example, it would be one of the boldest moves in the company’s long history — and a coup for the platform on which it appeared. Can you imagine playing The Legend of Zelda on your iPhone or iPad, or Super Smash Bros. on your Android tablet or phone? Fans would go certifiably nuts. All we know at this point is that the game won’t be from the Mario or Pokemon franchises.
Again, though, the chances of that are slim, which means the game will likely appear on the Wii, Wii U and/or Nintendo 3DS handheld system. Nintendo has pushed those platforms hard at E3 this week, with a re-mastered version of The Legend of Zelda: Windwaker, a Pikmin title, a new Donkey Kong Country game and of course a new Super Mario game taking prime spots in Nintendo’s E3 booth.
Nintendo first announced its first free-to-play game on Tuesday during its on-the-show-floor press event. The news was announced via a Tweet by industry analyst David Gibson. Gibson’s information was complemented by the comment that Nintendo releasing a free-to-play title was its latest attempt to “boost digital sales.”