Nintendo has finally confirmed its plans for the Nintendo Network, a formal, branded service for the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U.
Satoru Iwata quickly drew a contrast with his company's previous Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection program:
"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."
The publisher's plans are as follows:
- Personal Accounts for Wii U - Nintendo will now allow personalized accounts for its next home console, which will allow multiple users per system. Online profiles will no longer be system-based. "We will also be able to construct and offer the [personal account system] by combining a variety of different services and content," Iwata said.
- Digitally Distributed Packaged Software -Nintendo is exploring the idea of selling full retail games through the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U. The company is not willing to say when this program will start, but it now has the full ability to do so. Iwata noted Nintendo would need to consider retailer relationships first. He also noted SD card space limitations would be another factor. "The significance of this business field will increase," said Iwata.
- Paid Downloadable Content - As we've heard previously, publishers will now be able to offer paid DLC for different games, starting with Square's Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, which will allow players to purchase new songs for the rhythm-based game. The title releases in Japan on February 16.
"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."
Iwata wrapped the Nintendo Network segment of his investor presentation with the following statement:
"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."
Satoru Iwata also confirmed "NFC functionality" would be featured in the Wii U tablet device.
NFC, short for Near Field Communication, is a communication standard which allows for wireless distribution of information. Iwata described the uses of NFC to investors in this way:
"By installing this functionality, it will become possible to create cards and figurines that can electronically read and write data via noncontact NFC and to expand the new play format in the video game world. Adoption of this functionality will enable various other possibilities such as using it as a means of making micropayments."
Iwata vowed the company will be better prepared when it introduces the Wii U home console during the 2012 year-end shopping season for a strong comeback.
He declined to give details such as pricing or what the software games available at that time might be.
But he said the Wii U will come with a strong game lineup at the launch as well as secure and safe Internet services that will offer players individual accounts.
The Wii U will come with new ways of playing that will almost make the term "home console" obsolete, Iwata said. It will also offer mobile gaming.