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Nintendo is now charging for online play. Sometimes.

February 23, 2008

This, my friends, is a development.

At the GDC (which doesn’t seem to end), some Japanese Nintendo guy said that the company is changing their stance on online play, adding more “fuck-up” to their strategy.

Nintendo project leader Takashi Aoyama announced “Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection Pay And Play”, a new “service” which will add a whole new element to the wifi connection that you may have guessed by now. What’s basically gonna happen is that certain titles, dunno which yet, will have a red Pay and Play logo where the blue Wifi logo should be. These games will have a subscription model to online play, meaning you’ll be able to DL any content and updates at will if you’re subscribed, but the downside of course is that the service is no longer free for Wii. Other games will still be free to play, but the ratio of paid vs free is unknown for the time being.

Sometimes i think i’m not cutting Nintendo enough slack on their efforts to appease those of us who’ve been weaned on their flavor of gaming since our young youths and know what the competition offers these days, but this move has “bonehead” written all over it in italics. The Wifi Connection on Wii had some solid numbers at first, and now it will probably plummet and give them an excuse to not have to do anything with online outside of channels.

Granted, it could be that this service will separate the hardcore from the mainstream user and allow Nintendo to divide their audience up into better demographic targets, but going back on something as important as online and their word of it being free to use will turn many heads for the wrong reasons. We can hope that the games requiring subscriptions will convince devs with more serious online games in mind to make them for Wii, but the negatives seem to be heavier than the positives in this case, at least initially.

Somewhere, right now, a Sony exec is writing up a statement about the still-free PSN on his Macbook Air.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. February 26, 2008 2:35 am

    I don’t believe in free online gameplay service… It is simply not a sustainable business model.

    I heard that the pay-to-play is not actually a pay service to play, but just for downloadable content. Just a rumor, though. That’s what the internet is for.

  2. February 26, 2008 3:10 pm

    Once you’re subscribed to a game, you have instant access to all the downloadable content for it rather than having to search it out and buy it once it’s out, like expansions and such. There’s no rumor, this was announced at GDC by the Nintendo guy.

    Sony is proving that a free online service is very sustainable. Here’s one way they’re sustaining it. Purchasable items in Home and add-on packs/expansions on the PS Store are two more.

  3. frisby permalink
    February 28, 2008 12:14 pm

    if thais really the case Tony…Nintendy can blow me. Charge for subscription based d/l content on a pAtheticly small interanal drive? No dice.

  4. February 28, 2008 1:37 pm

    Well, that’s how PC gamers do it… Usually they have to pay a monthly fee PER GAME to play online! (Like in WOW). In light of that, I don’t understand why some people think $50 or $60 a year for all online play in ALL games is a rip-off.

  5. frisby permalink
    March 2, 2008 1:51 am

    Good point, however that is depending on individual studios running the servers and ext. These are consoles and are using their networks (I am assuming). I guess as long as I stick to first party games I should be OK.

    If it was a online service like Live, wouldn’t Nintendo need to regulate the servers somehow. Bad online play may reflect bad press for Nintindy.

  6. March 3, 2008 12:53 pm

    No, I believe it is all in how robust the network is. And the more robust, the more expensive exponentially it is to maintain.

    For a service like LIVE to work, the online connectivity has to be constant, and that costs many, many times over what “connecting by request” costs. The Friend Codes are simply a way for Nintendo to ensure that the number of people connected through their service will be at least ten times less than that of a LIVE type of service, since you have to request to get connected to even look for friends online (on LIVE you get an automatic notice as soon as a friend is in, no matter what you are doing in your console).

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