So the Wall Street Journal reported that there will be a Legend of Zelda game coming to mobile devices. Sounds great. Nobody knows how the game will play considering Super Mario Run is an endless runner and Fire Emblem Heroes is a grid based strategy game; both work very well on a touchscreen. However the typical Legend of Zelda game needs physical buttons to play. One must wonder how will they alter the game mechanics to make it fluid and enjoyable. I’m pretty sure they won’t just add in a virtual D-pad and some buttons as if it was an emulator. But what I’m really curious is how much will this cost.
What will be their business model because Super Mario Run has been downloaded over 150 million times with iOS and android combined but only 5% of that actually bought the $10 full game version. Fire Emblem Heroes on the other hand has been downloaded around 15 million times but is making more money than Super Mario Run because of its gacha model. The mobile audience is different than consoles. People are use to playing “free to play” games with microtransactions and will spend a little bit of money here and there amounting to much more than $10 instead of paying up front for the full game. Nintendo said they don’t want to go that route even though Fire Emblem Hereos is like that but they said FE Heroes is an outlier. So what business model should the Legend of Zelda be? I have the solution, just look at Pokemon Picross or Pokemon Rumble World on the Nintendo 3DS. They are free to play games with microtransactions. Both using purchasable diamonds or picrites as currency to unlock levels faster or you can slowly grind for them without paying money. Sounds like your typical free to play mobile game, but here’s the difference, there’s a limit to how much money you can spend. In Pokemon Picross, if you purchase 5000 picrites total which amounts to around $30, the rest of the game is unlocked. In Pokemon Rumble World, if you purchase 3,000 diamonds total which amounts to around $30, you unlock a fountain that gives you diamonds everyday. You will be unable to buy anymore currency after that $30 limit which is the usual price for a 3DS game. What’s the down side? The game will never get additional levels through updates; it’s a finished game. This is exactly what Super Mario Run should’ve been. Imagine spending one dollar in microtransactions a couple times to the point where you spent $10 total which unlocks the rest of the levels or maybe you got far without paying and just need to spend around $3 for the couple levels remaining. Of course this also means Nintendo won’t get anymore money out of a person after they’ve spent $10, but at least you can get a couple bucks out of others who would otherwise never spend $10 up front.