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Nintendo boss details network plans, considers retail game downloads
Nintendo boss details network plans, considers retail game downloads
January 27, 2012 | By Kris Graft

January 27, 2012 | By Kris Graft
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Compared to video game rivals Microsoft and Sony, Nintendo has lagged in the online department.

But in a briefing this week, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata explained how his company will be expanding its efforts in the realm of networking and digital distribution with its new-generation game hardware, the 3DS and upcoming Wii U.

Iwata said the company's fledging "Nintendo Network," introduced in December with Mario Kart 7 for 3DS, will serve as a platform for communication, competition and digital sales on the handheld 3DS and upcoming tablet-equipped Wii U.

With that infrastructure in place, Iwata said Nintendo is poised to make a bigger commitment to digital distribution. The first 3DS title to host downloadable add-on content is Nintendo's Japanese downloadable photo booth app, "Tobidasu Pricla Kiradeco Revolution." The app is already available for download, and additional digital content will be available soon.

Nintendo will also soon offer downloadable add-on content for packaged games, with the February 16 Japanese release of Square Enix's Theatrhythm Final Fantasy. Players will be able to buy add-on music for the game.

Downloadable retail games?

The business possibilities of the Nintendo Network also extend to full download versions of retail games, said Iwata. "For the digital sales of the content, we are also considering the future possibility of digital distribution of packaged software, which is often referred to as 'software download sales.'"

"This concept was built into the design of the Nintendo 3DS, and we already have the necessary infrastructure," he added. "We will prepare the same infrastructure for the Wii U."

Iwata would not commit to a start date for such a strategy. Full retail game downloads mean that Nintendo would be circumventing retail partners, and the company needs to iron out the details of those relationships.

"The decision [of when to offer full downloads] must be made by taking into consideration such factors as the relationship with the wholesalers and retailers, and the best way to be embraced by consumers, as well as the environment surrounding the market and consumers, such as the required memory capacity on consumers' SD memory cards," he said. "However, as an option for the future, the significance of this business field will increase."

Iwata also mentioned the introduction of a "personal account system" for the Wii U that will be used with the Nintendo Network. The system, he said, will help the user experience for a console that's used by multiple players.

Stance on microtransactions

The president also distanced Nintendo from the business models employed by some social games in which players (sometimes children who don't know better) can unwittingly rack up huge bills from microtransactions.

"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."


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Comments


Harry Fields
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Looks like they're going to forsake the "Core" audience again. Not surprising, given the desire to stick with the brand cache' of "Wii" another generation.



Regardless, I know I'll buy the damned thing for Mario, Zelda, and Metroid stuff alone...

Brad Borne
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Where the hell from this article did you get that stupid assumption???



It's a multiplatform world, Nintendo will have the most powerful console for at least a year, they just announced all the online features they've been lacking in to support 3rd party software. Don't be ignorant.

Mathieu MarquisBolduc
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You have some assumptions yourself Brad.

Brad Borne
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@Mathieu: And what exactly am I assuming? I'm replying to a comment to an article that does nothing but outline how Nintendo plans to give core gamers what they've been whining about for the past 5 years.



Am I assuming that Nintendo will succeed in online? Of course not, but there's nothing in THAT press conference that 'looks like they're going to forsake the "Core" audience again'.



Am I assuming that 3rd parties will actually develop for the Wii U? Not really, a bunch have already announced support, and that most games go multiplatform nowadays isn't an assumption, it's a fact.



So... again, what am I assuming?

A W
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@Antony you where absent to my unscientific blog poll here on Gama about LoZ SS. I wanted to hear some opinions about how others felt about the controls. Oh well... maybe next time.



I personally think the line:



"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,"



Is flying in the face of developers to "get it right the first time" because they would not like the online experience to turn in to a "series of patch fixes for software"



I would also like to note that the micro transaction thing is not the first time micro transactions was introduced on a Nintendo Console. I believe that one WiiWare Final Fantasy game where you got to be a king managing a kingdom had DLC content that players could purchase from in the game itself. So I guess whats new is now they can put that content in the store much like Xbox and PSN have?



Other than that it sounds like the system will be just like XBox live and PSN.



on a personal note. It would be cool to have a social Facebook like system that worked both on the Nintendo Network as well as on the internet. I think that what online lack in this season of game systems.

Brad Borne
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I'm not sure how those two lines are contradictory... Nintendo doesn't want developers relying on patches to bring things up to speed, they want to consumers to trust their purchases.



To me, though, it sounds more like Nintendo is banning the entire 'online pass' deal, which would be great.

Leon T
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"To me, though, it sounds more like Nintendo is banning the entire 'online pass' deal, which would be great. "



That would be great , but I doubt it. Nintendo seems like they are more open to letting third parties do what they want. If anything they are saying that first party games will not launch broken or need passes.

Leon T
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I see Nintendo letting (forcing?) you buy digital copies directly from retailers in order to keep them happy. Its really not a bad idea because I doubt a digital Nintendo store would have many sales.

Brad Borne
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Could this be what the Nintendo Zone is actually about? There's really no reason for it to exist, it's just an artificial limitation.

Leon T
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Nintendo Zone exist as another reason to always carry your 3DS with you , but it would be perfect if they allowed you to buy digital copies through it too.

Bob Johnson
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The line at the end is not a reference to patches. It is a reference to the "pay more to unlock content on the disc" business model that more publishers are practicing.



You know like Skylanders where a bunch of content on the disc is locked unless you purchase a new figurine.



Nintendo says their customers prefer to get everything at one price.

Joe McGinn
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Believe it when I see it. Even remakes like Zelda OOT are not available digitally on 3DS.

Brian Arthur
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Nintendo really needs to hit the mark with a breakthrough online service and/or a miracle new IP from left field. That TV remote control could be very cool if they use it properly, maybe base a new IP solely on that feature? The map in-game alone could be an awesome experience 3D style.


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