While Nintendo has just unveiled more details for the 3DS, the world is a much different one than the DS launched into in 2004. In fact, Capcom thinks that much of the traditional role that portable consoles have played has been replaced by smartphones.

The casual gamer that used to play on the PC and the hardcore gamer that used to play on a dedicated gaming portable now plays on their smartphone, said Capcom Interactive’s president and COO Midori Yuasa. The iPhone and larger smartphone markets are extremely important to Capcom as, like no device before, smartphones have the potential to become a universal game platform. We have a lot of stuff on the horizon for both hardcore and casual gamers, so 2011 is shaping up to be huge on Capcom’s mobile front.

Capcom launched Smurfs Village, and with its sale of in-game items, it actually managed to outpace Angry Birds as far as income. The virtual purchases in that game (typically various increments of Smurfberries) range all the way from $4.99 to $99.99.

A freemium business model can be extremely effective as illustrated by the success of Smurfs Village. However, the key is that the game has to be designed from day one as a freemium title, added Yuasa. If you try and shoehorn in an alternate revenue model into an existing design, you end up with a muddled experience that users either ignore or hammer with user reviews.

Source: MCV