Nintendo has formally announced its plans to build a robust online service of equivalent quality and functionality to Xbox LIVE and the PlayStation Network by revealing the existence of the Nintendo Network.
The Nintendo Network aims to provide users the opportunity to not only purchase and download full 3DS and (in the future) Wii U games, but will also serve as a means to deliver downloadable content.
Nintendo Network will largely replace the current Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection used for online play and store connectivity, and while no discrete mention of online play was mentioned with regards to Nintendo Network, this service is expected, allowing gamers to more easily play competitive and co-operative multiplayer titles together online, with more control than is possible with Wi-Fi Connection.
Here is Nintendo president Satoru Iwata’s overview of Nintendo Network, explained during an investor meeting recently:
“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.”
As Nintendo has always been focussed on the family and easily allowing members of a family to play on the same console, a comprehensive ‘profile system’ will be put in place for Nintendo Network and with the Wii U. Iwata explains:
“For the Wii U, we are planning to introduce a personal account system compatible with Nintendo Network. With this, for example, the ease of using a video game system when the hardware is shared by multiple family members, which has been a challenge we needed to tackle, shall be improved.”
Nintendo is well aware of the problems of downloadable content and publishers’ continued reliance on DLC to extend the life of a game and to add value at cost to the consumer, so Iwata is insistent on providing a DLC avenue over Nintendo Network that is in line with its own philosophies:
“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,” Iwata said.
“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.”
The announcement of Nintendo Network arrives just in time for the release of the Wii U later this year and as a great backbone for the 3DS in order to extend the handheld’s success and provide further functionality, but is it too late for Nintendo to challenge the dominance of Xbox LIVE and the PlayStation Network?
Regardless, it’s an interesting and exciting reveal showing that Nintendo has finally realised the importance of the online space in videogames and is making plans to provide gamers with improved ways to experience their Nintendo games.