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Nintendo's next two mobile games will be free to play

But the titles will probably offer in-app purchases, judging from a remark made by Nintendo partner DeNA.

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Nintendo's mobile versions of Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem will be free.

Nintendo

Nintendo is aiming to lure more users to its next mobile games by making the titles free to play.

Following on the March release of its first mobile app, Miitomo, the company is set to launch its popular Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem for smartphones this fall. The two new games will be free to download, according to Tokyo-based DeNA, which has been working with Nintendo to develop the new mobile lineup, and which spoke with The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday. The Journal confirmed the news with Nintendo.

"Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing are both free-to-start apps," DeNA Chief Executive Isao Moriyasu told the Journal, which implies that the games will offer in-app purchases. That follows the same model as Miitomo, which is free to play but includes in-app purchases for various items.

Mobile users have increasingly jumped onto smartphones and tablets to get their gaming fix. Nintendo initially fought the move to mobile apps, instead concentrating on games for its Wii console and handheld devices. But the company has played third fiddle behind Sony and Microsoft in the gaming world and needs to focus on the mobile app market to remain relevant.

Nintendo plans to offer five mobile apps altogether, and the company is already off to a hot start. Initially available just in Japan in late March, Miitomo picked up more than 1 million registered users over its first three days. After traveling to the US and other countries, the app snagged more than 10 million users by the end of April, Nintendo tweeted at the time.

The idea of offering free-to-play programs with in-app purchases has become popular among mobile app makers. The model typically allows people to use all the basic features of the app but then pay for extra options and items. That gives users a good taste of the app and provides developers with a way to generate revenue without charging any money up front.

Following the release of Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem, Nintendo plans to launch the remaining two mobile apps in 2017.

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