During E3, Nintendo had announced that their first free-to-play game would be released by March 2014. No further details were given as to what kind of game it would be, until recently, when Nintendo executive Shigeru Miyamoto revealed to IGN that the upcoming franchise used for the company’s pricing experiment would be none other than Steel Diver.
For those that aren’t aware, Steel Diver was originally launched alongside the 3DS back in 2011. It’s an action-filled combat game which sees you taking control of a 2D submarine. Players must guide the submarine through various underwater caverns, shooting enemy ships as they go along. With it being one of the first 3DS titles released, the game received mostly positive review scores, but was criticised for its lack of depth and content.
However, Shigeru Miyamoto has stressed that it won’t be a direct port, and the game’s design will change due to the free-to-play model. He also revealed that the game will feature enhanced multiplayer, with a four-player battle mode in the works. That said, the consoles the game will be released on haven’t yet been decided. The obvious choice would be 3DS, since the game was originally released on the handheld, and is potentially better suited to it, but we don’t see why Nintendo wouldn’t consider bringing it to Wii U.
Gameplay aside, Miyamoto doesn’t appear to have anything set in stone regarding the ‘business’ side of its free-to-play model. It’s currently unknown whether the game will introduce a membership plan, or micro-transaction type fees. The Mario creator has said that the team behind it are working hard to balance out pricing, seeing how it would affect consumer satisfaction.
Nintendo had already revealed during E3 that none of their ‘trusted’ franchises would take on the free-to-play form. Meaning we won’t be seeing any franchises such as Mario or Pokémon amongst Steel Diver, and instead only the newer IPs will be tested in this way to establish themselves with consumers.