Puzzle & Dragons Z
Golden-egg-laying goose descended
Sometimes you get the feeling that Nintendo makes business decisions solely to irritate its critics. Barely a financial quarter goes by without another raft of calls for Nintendo to take its portfolio to smartphones, where cheaply produced games rake in millions via in-app purchases every day. Instead, Nintendo has done exactly the opposite, bringing Puzzle & Dragons, Japan’s most popular smartphone game, to 3DS.
And we really do mean popular. PAD, as it is often abbreviated, has been downloaded 32 million times in Japan, a country of around 127 million people. In the first half of 2014, it made GungHo Online Entertainment some ¥85 billion (£463 million) in revenue. Most importantly, unlike so many other F2P successes, it deserves it: PAD is charmingly presented, smartly designed, and almost infinitely playable. It is, in its own way, a perfect fit for a Nintendo platform, but for one problem: a layer of monetisation that, while never aggressive, puts up a wall in the endgame between those who are prepared to pay and those who would rather not.
On mobile, PAD has three currencies: coins, dropped by fallen enemies and used to level up monsters (in conjunction with ‘feeding’ them less powerful creatures); Pal Points, earned when someone on your friends list chooses your monster to help them in battle, and spent on common monsters at the randomised Pal Egg Machine; and Magic Stones. The latter is the premium currency, used one at a time to buy continues in dungeons, increase monster storage slots or restore play-limiting stamina, or traded in groups of five for a single pull at the Rare Egg Machine. Skilled players can do great things with supposedly low-level teams, and
Daisuke Yamamoto, Puzzle&Dragons series producer at GungHo