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Iwata: Revolution downloads not free

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has confirmed his company will charge for next-gen console access to its back catalogue.

CNET Australia staff headshot
CNET Australia staff

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has confirmed his company will charge for next-gen console access to its back catalogue.

In a business strategy conference held earlier this week by Nintendo, president Satoru Iwata outlined a number of company plans for the current business year and beyond.
Iwata repeated the theme that Nintendo's next-generation console "will provide different kinds of uses that will be of interests to each members of the family". But he didn't elaborate, only making a general remark that by "expanding the definition of games, games should become a subject of interest to everyone". For example, Iwata said the Revolution's capability to download and play back classic Nintendo titles will be of interest to parents, letting them enjoy the console as much as their kids.

Iwata also talked a bit more about the Revolution's capability to download and play games from Nintendo's previous consoles, called the Virtual Console system. First off, he shot down speculation that all first-party Nintendo games will be downloadable for free. "There's rumors floating on the Internet that the Virtual Console will be available for play for free, but we have no plans to distribute (the games) without charge," he said.

"We believe that there's a number of ways that we can use the system, such as to offer a bonus download with the purchase of a new game, or allow some games to be downloaded during a limited time during a campaign period." Iwata also repeated Nintendo's stated desire to have third-party developers get in on the game-download action. "We hope to establish a format where both Nintendo and [third-party] software makers will be able to make a profit by using the resources from our past."

Iwata also discussed the Revolution's internal 512MB flash memory, which he said will be used for saving game data, downloading virtual console games, and for "expansion of the Revolution's capabilities." He didn't go into specifics regarding its connectivity to the DS, though he confirmed that users will be able to download demos for the handheld at home.

As has become his habit, Iwata once again explained that the gaming population in Japan has been declining due to a number of reasons, most importantly the lack of time that people nowadays have and the difficulty of modern games. He went on to state that Nintendo's solution to the problem is not to try to expand the audience market with games that look extravagant and are difficult to play, but to create games that people of any age, gender, and skill can enjoy.

As an example, Iwata cited the virtual-puppy game Nintendogs. The title has sold nearly 400,000 copies in Japan since its release. Three dogs are available from the start, and the user can unlock additional canines by having the DS "communicate" with another DS.

However, Iwata did not completely deny the importance of complex games, saying: "People have only a limited amount of time. They want to play splendid titles that are like a full-course French meal for once or twice during the year, but I think we need to stop all the games from becoming like that. With the Revolution, we hope to realise a market that offers games with different kinds of volumes and prices."

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