Can free-to-play work on Nintendo's 3D handheld? Sega is hoping so.
Sega is currently testing the free-to-play game model on the Nintendo 3DS via limited Japanese releases. However, it appears as though things are going well enough to expand the program. According to sources in Japan, Sega is on the verge of releasing its first fully F2P title on the 3DS, and has several more F2P titles in development for Nintendo's portable machine.
The basic idea should be familiar to anyone who's played a free-to-play game: You can technically earn everything in the game via gameplay, but can dramatically reduce the time it takes to do so by making in-game purchases. In other words, it's the classic “pay to avoid the pain” design. This method of building a title can certainly work, but fans will be turned off if the payment model is seen as too predatory.
We'll just have to keep an eye on Sega to see how things turn out. In the meantime, free-to-play continues to be the go-to model for new MMOs and mobile titles.