Nintendo Badge Arcade is Nintendo’s latest free-to-play experiment

Allegra Frank

Just in time for this morning's news that Nintendo's upcoming mobile titles will be free-to-play comes today's launch of Nintendo Badge Arcade, a Nintendo 3DS eShop exclusive that also follows the microtransaction-supported model.

The downloadable title, as seen in its trailer above, allows you to decorate your 3DS home menu with various stickers featuring Nintendo characters. The stickers, or badges, are acquired by playing several varieties of crane game, which also take after classic Nintendo properties.

While both the software and your first round of play are gratis, additional rounds come at a cost. While you can earn a free play by picking up special badges, and have the chance to try your hand at collecting stickers at no cost once per day, it's faster to pay the $1 fee to keep playing.

While potentially diluting its IP with microtransactions is something former president Satoru Iwata claimed to be wary of when first discussing Nintendo's mobile future in March, it's important to remember that paid add-ons are nothing new for the company.

3DS games like Rusty's Real Deal Baseball and Steel Diver: Sub Wars also make use of microtransactions. Like Badge Arcade, whose pink rabbit mascot serves the dual role of the game's emcee and salesperson, Rusty's Real Deal Baseball employed its eponymous dog to sell players on buying into its minigames to keep playing the free download.

Steel Diver: Sub Wars, on the other hand, offers both a free version and a premium one with more play options.

The most recent title to offer players the chance to start for free before hitting a paywall is Stretchmo, which charges upward of $4.99 for additional levels. Pokémon Shuffle on both 3DS and smart devices also trades more play time for cash.

It's not yet known how Nintendo's smartphone titles like March 2016's Miitomo will monetize its content.

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