Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto Explained Why He Doesn’t Like Microtransactions In Games

Getty Image

Don’t expect to see any loot boxes in the next Mario game. Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Mario and other beloved video game franchises for Nintendo, has been adamant about not following trends in video games. For better or worse, the company has focused on family-friendly games and tried things its own way while companies like Sony and Microsoft carved out huge portions of the gaming market for themselves.

While sticking with cartridges and avoiding online gaming may irk some Nintendo fans as stodgy and anti-innovation, the latest argument Miyamoto has made against microtransactions in gaming might make many gamers quite happy.

Microtransactions, or in-game purchases, are a staple in the mobile gaming world. The freemium model gets gamers in the door for cheap and gives them the option to become power users paying small amounts of money for conveniences such as time and ease of use. But putting essential elements of the game behind a paywall even after paying the price to get the game in the first place has irked many gamers who feel they’re being had or, what’s worse, buying what should already be in the game well after the fact in downloadable content or expansions.

The gaming industry has heavily debated the use of microtransactions in games after a notable title, Star Wars: Battlefront 2, was roundly criticized for hiding much of its loot behind microtransactions that essentially made the game cost much more than its initial MSRP. Even lawmakers debated legislating loot boxes in some games.

Miyamoto essentially has a warning for other game makers: Don’t get greedy. In an interview with Bloomberg, Miyamoto argued against microtransactions in games and says Nintendo intends to sell games in a more traditional way for the time being.

“We’re lucky to have such a giant market, so our thinking is, if we can deliver games at reasonable prices to as many people as possible, we will see big profits,” Miyamoto said at the Computer Entertainment Developers Conference (CEDEC) on Wednesday in Yokohama, Japan.

What Miyamoto is saying is clear: Paying for outfits and loot boxes is games might be wildly profitable, but he’s uncomfortable with letting Nintendo join many others in the industry in nudging gamers in that direction with its titles. Miyamoto pointed out that the model isn’t ideal from a profits standpoint, especially with mobile games, but buying a game for a flat price and getting the whole package is a system that isn’t broken just yet.

“I can’t say that our fixed-cost model has really been a success,” the usually candid Miyamoto said. “But we’re going to continue pushing it forward until it becomes entrenched. That way everyone can develop games in a comfortable environment. By focusing on bringing games to the widest range of people possible, we can continue boosting our mobile game business.”

As Bloomberg notes, this is a declaration that comes after Nintendo has tinkered with a freemium model for some games. Super Mario Run was the first smartphone game developed in-house by Nintendo and charged gamers a flat fee to play. After criticism that it was too expensive, though, its next two titles were free-to-play but had in-app purchases, and Nintendo has been criticized for Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp for having too many in-game purchases.

It’s clear now, though, that Nintendo will shy away from those kinds of models in the future. According to Miyamoto, getting your money up front is good enough for now.