Nintendo and DeNA have announced that both Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem will be free downloads when they hit the iOS and Android platforms. We still don’t know much about these mobile games below familiar IPs, but a report from The Wall Street Journal has it that they’ve been marked as free to download in order to compete in the “fiercely competitive app stores.”
With all that said, I wouldn’t be surprised if Nintendo employs something similar to what they did with games like Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball. That Nintendo 3DS title was free-to-start. It was essentially a demo with a way to unlock full game content from within.
Rather than traditional mobile free-to-play microtransactions that unlock lives, playtime or items, this free-to-start format essentially makes it so you can try the game, decide if you like it and then drop a few bucks to unlock content within. In the case of Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball, you could buy all content in the game for $16.
If that’s the case for Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem, I’ll be happy. If both experiences stand as nickel and dime simulators, I’ll be genuinely frustrated. We’ll see what Nintendo does as these games release between now and the end of this year.