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Nintendo seems to be going 'gacha' with F2P Fire Emblem mobile game

January 18, 2017 | By Alex Wawro

January 18, 2017 | By Alex Wawro
More: Video

Nintendo broadcast one of its Nintendo Direct video presentations today dedicated solely to its Fire Emblem game franchise, and it's worth watching for devs curious to keep pace with the company's strategy for 2017.

Most notably, Nintendo pitched its previously-announced Fire Emblem mobile game as a free-to-play affair, Fire Emblem Heroes, with optional in-app purchases.

Those IAP appear (see roughly the 34:00 mark in the Direct video, embedded above)  to be tied to in-game materials ("orbs", which can also be acquired during play) that can be spent to generate new heroes -- and there's an element of randomization involved with the values of the heroes generated.

This is different than the monetization schemes Nintendo has built into its existing mobile games -- the recently-released Super Mario Run has only one ($10) IAP to unlock the full game, while last year's Miitomo did offer players the option to buy in-game currency for real money.

However, for the most part, that Miitomo in-game currency is used to buy (or try to win) cosmetic items. In Fire Emblem Heroes, it appears in-game currency is spent on semi-randomized generation of heroes whose value meaningfully affects the player's ability to play.

This is somewhat akin to the "gachapon/gashapon" monetization mechanic that's proven incredibly successful in mobile games around the world, especially in Japan. In fact, Nintendo mobile partner DeNA ran into trouble a few years back when the Japanese Consumer Affairs Agency banned "kompu gacha" game mechanics, a refined form of gacha mechanic that gives players special bonuses for having a complete set of items acquired through a gacha-style reward system.

While Nintendo's scheme for monetizing Fire Emblem Heroes appears to not include any elements of "kompu gacha" (or "complete gacha"), it's nevertheless intriguing to track the company's ongoing foray into F2P mobile game design. For more on the game, which launches February 2nd, check out Nintendo's official Fire Emblem Heroes hub.

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