How Nintendo is experimenting with in-game haggling, free-to-play on 3DS

To start with, there’s Nintendo’s upcoming download-only title, Steel Diver: Sub Wars. Originally announced as the company’s first ever free-to-play game, Steel Diver is actually more of a “free-to-play if you so choose” kind of deal. Everyone that downloads the free version of the game gets access to two submarines, a handful of missions and both local and online multiplayer. For those willing to pay, the premium version will feature 18 subs total and special patterns, all of the game’s missions and crew members.

Not unlike the trial concept I wrote about. The other F2P title, Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball, however, has a really novel business model.

The game’s demo — which includes six stages of the first minigame — is free. More minigames and episodic content are available for $4 each. But Nintendo sets Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball apart from other piecemeal payment systems with its haggling system. By offering the game’s shopkeeper, Rusty, special items or in-game coupons, they can drop the amount they’ll pay in real-world currency.

Players can choose to pay a higher price immediately or play the game more in order to lower prices. In essence, more gameplay equals lower prices. That is completely different from most F2P games, where people who don’t pay get a lesser experience. Of course, there’s bound to be a lower, err, bound—you probably can’t haggle your way to free mini games. But that’s the beauty of it.