As anticipated, Nintendo has officially confirmed existence of Nintendo Network, the new online system overhaul that would see the company finally address the needs of the growing digital distribution era. In an investor’s program yesterday, Satoru Iwata lined out a number of key features of the new service, seeking to differentiate it from the Nintendo Wi-Fi service while addressing the many complaints about the system in place. For instance, online profiles will no longer be tied to to the console itself. Users will instead be able to create individual profiles on one system, not unlike what Xbox 360 and PS3 users experience now.
In terms of digital distribution, we may see full retail games sold directly through the Wii U and 3DS in the near future. Nintendo now has the ability to do so, though Iwata notes that retailer relationships and SD card capacity will be a factor in how extensive it will be.
As for downloadable content, the new model starts with Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, where users will be able to purchase additional songs. Iwata stressed that, as Nintendo also makes software, it is important to the company to find a way to stress that all their games can be enjoyed as-is, without the purchase of additional content, saying:
“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.”
Given that many great games are enjoyable and worth the price without the additional DLC (the Fallout series and Borderlands come to mind), I think the consumer confidence they seek can be achieved. This is a great time to be a Nintendo fan, and I’m excited to see what these new changes will bring to the franchises we love.