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Free-to-play games are finding a curious and willing audience on Nintendo’s latest platform. Switch owners have downloaded Tencent’s Arena of Valor more than 1 million times since it launched in September.

Arena of Valor is a free-to-play multiplayer online battle game similar to League of Legends and Dota 2. It was already available on mobile when it debuted on Nintendo’s hybrid home/handheld console, but a huge number of people are choosing to play it on the Switch instead.

What’s especially important for Arena of Valor and publisher Tencent is that the United States is the biggest territory for the Switch version. This is crucial because Tencent cannot get new games approved in its home territory of China. That country’s temporary freeze on game licenses means that the publisher is looking for any foreign revenue it can get its hands on. And the timing of a successful launch of a new game on a popular platform in the United States is a big help on that front.

Switch as a free-to-play platform

Beyond Arena of Valor, however, is more evidence that the Nintendo Switch audience is embracing free-to-play. While Tencent’s game has surpassed 1 million downloads, it isn’t alone in reaching that milestone.


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Warframe, a sci-fi cooperative shooter, launched on the Switch in November. It is free-to-play, and it surpassed 1 million downloads in under a month.

And, of course, Fortnite is the best example. It surpassed 2 million downloads in under 24 hours on the Switch when it debuted in June. That free-to-play battle royale shooter was already popular, but launching on the Switch helped it reach even more people.

Of course, the question remains as to whether or not people are spending money on these games after downloading them. Nintendo and developers don’t typically share that data, so we don’t know for sure. But what’s obvious is that more and more studios are rushing to bring their games to the platform, and that suggests that they are expecting to make some money in the process.

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