Though many long-time Nintendo fans will likely recoil in horror, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata said today that the Wii U's architecture will support free-to-play gaming if developers are interested in leveraging that business model.
With respect to the Wii U system, when we began working on it, one of our goals was to have a variety of purchase options and additional e-commerce options available at its launch," Iwata said in a Q&A posted on Nintendo's website. "And because of that, we have prepared a Digital Rights Management system. We have designed the system from a technical standpoint to allow developers to freely take advantage of things like free to play and micro transactions."
This, of course, led to questions about whether Nintendo is planning on building its own F2P games. Iwata was less transparent on that topic, saying that Nintendo wont rule out the possibility of exploring other types of games, but that they would not build an F2P game unless the game was suitable as an F2P experience.
Many gamers might be horrified by this, as F2P games are still widely seen as "games they need to trick you into playing. However, the model has long since outgrown that stigma. Great F2P titles like Tribes: Ascend, League of Legends, and Lord of the Rings Online have transformed the face of F2P.
For our part, we're really interested to see what would result from game makers trying to combine an F2P model with hardcore console-gamer sensibilities.