The famed creator of Mario, Shigeru Miyamoto, has stated that Nintendo must decide whether it will continue to offer its online service for free or start charging for the privilege. A tiered subscription model much like Xbox Live is one that could be on the way for Nintendo products: “… Probably the other thing that we are desperate to realise is the core [online] business structure.” Said Miyamoto “Do we need to demand customers pay monthly fees to enjoy online activities? Or give an online subscription that is free of charge, but then offer something extra for people that pay, so that they get some extra value? With these core business strategies I think we are less active than we should be.”
This to me is such a bizarre idea. If like PSN, Nintendo’s online infrastructure was able to rival Xbox Live then it would be more understandable but right now, such an idea is dangerous. What makes Nintendo believe that the audience will be willing to pay when their current platforms lack online games? And the way online is handled on these systems is painfully archaic. Random 16-digit friend codes don’t lend themselves to easy matchmaking. But Miyamoto disagrees: “To be honest, I think it’s rather unfair whenever I hear such comments – that Nintendo isn’t proactive when it comes to its online strategy. The fact of the matter is that we always want all Wii consoles to be connected online, all the time, so Nintendo has never been less than proactive in that kind of endeavour. It is true, though, that Nintendo hasn’t been very proactive in developing such online activities as an MMOG. But when it comes to our endeavours that try to take advantage of internet technology, where we can provide our customers with more fun and entertainment, then I think we can say we have been very, very proactive and well-received. And that attitude won’t be changed at all in the future.”
There is little reason for a Wii to be constantly connected and far too much shovelware plagues both WiiWare and DSiWare services. Sadly Nintendo have been far from proactive with their online space which in itself is so very odd when you think how important the Wii and DS are to the current state of videogames. While Miyamoto didn’t directly state that such a pricing plan would come to the Wii and DS, it also can’t be ruled out but charging dedicated fans of the limited online experiences would be more like a punishment than a reward for owning a Nintendo system.