Remember that box art? Well it tipped the hand of the new ‘Nintendo Network’ that Satoru Iwata detailed during an investor’s program. This isn’t ’Nintendo Wi-Fi Connections’, which he was quick to point out.
Unlike Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, which has been focused upon specific functionalities and concepts, we are aiming to establish a platform where various services available through the network for our consumers shall be connected via Nintendo Network service so that the company can make comprehensive proposals to consumers.
So what are the high points? The first is multiple online accounts for the Wii U. Finally, accounts will no longer be tied to the hardware. They will be for people, like it should be and like both Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network have been for years.
The next is full retail games for download. They aren’t announcing when they’ll start this or to what degree, but they can now do it. Again, something XBL and PSN have done for years. They are aware of space limitations of SD cards however, and that is a factor. Of course with the 3DS you can just pop in another one, and a 16gb card can be found for $20 these days, though admittedly a slow on.
The next is yet another feature that has been missing, paid downloadable content. We heard about this before in regards to the new Final Fantasy game Theatrhythm, which releases in Japan on February 16th. Iwata just confirmed that this is happening, and is now possible.
Now this all came with a typical Nintendo statement as well.
As a software maker, Nintendo believes that its packaged software should be sold to our consumers in a form so that the consumers will know in advance that they can enjoy playing the software they purchased just as it is. We believe that our consumers will be able to feel more secure if we offer our add-on content as an additional structure in which those who love the game will be able to enjoy it in a deeper way for a prolonged play time.
This was to ally the concerns that Nintendo was going to fall into a Zynga model, where you have to pay to play the game continuously, which they aren’t interested in. Sounds just fine, and they want to do it right if they’re finally going to do it. My immediate concern was that Nintendo was going to half-ass this as well, but they seem to have finally realized that the internet isn’t going away.
Whether it’s our first-party titles or third parties’ titles, for a number of games, we will actively attempt to achieve compatibility so that our consumers can enjoy our online services that we will deploy under the name of the Nintendo Network.
So in theory, Nintendo now has a proper (free) online service. The 3DS showed improvements, and I’m hoping that the Wii U actually finally has a proper online service.
Another interesting tidbit, is that the Wii U tablet controller will have NFC built in. (Near Field Communications) It is currently used in smartphones and the Skylanders title to enable data transfer or payment info to be sent. If I can tap my phone to my tablet and pay, that would certainly make it quicker to buy something. This is, I’m sure, intended for micropayments. As Nintendo doesn’t like to store your credit card info, having to hunt for your wallet or purse every time you wanted to buy a new character in a game would be a pain and discourage the uptake of that business model.