Nintendo 'to end ban on virtual items'

Nintendo 'to end ban on virtual items'

By Rob Crossley

October 28th 2011 at 2:58PM

Microtransactions 'could arrive on 3DS next month', Japanese paper claims

Nintendo will soon allow developers to create and sell virtual goods on 3DS games, according to reports.

Japanese business paper The Nikkei claims Nintendo will lift its ban on microtransactions as early as November. Nintendo has yet to confirm the claim.

If true, it could pave the way for a new currency model for games developers building content across Nintendo platforms.

It would even provide the monetisation framework to allow transaction-based games, such as MMOs, to launch on the new handheld. It could even, at least in practical terms, pave the way for free-to-play games to launch on Nintendo systems.

Nintendo has hitherto demonstrated its reluctance to support free-to-play games, largely over fears they deflate the perceived value of games.

But digital revenue for the Japanese firm is well behind industry averages.

Digital accounts for just five per cent of Nintendo’s total business, according to a TechCrunch report. Meanwhile, publishers such as EA, Capcom and Konami are now relying on digital product to amplify revenues brought in from traditional boxed sales – and, in some cases, even save the companies from reporting quarterly losses to their shareholders.

Nintendo is expecting to report a loss in its current financial year. The last time it posted a loss was in 1981.