In the 72nd annual meeting of Nintendo shareholders, one participant asked Iwata, President of Nintendo, how they intend to make money off of their online services. Up until now Nintendo’s offerings have been free (and lackluster), but in hopes of turning a profit, that could change.
Iwata lays out a tiered service where the fundamentals of the Nintendo Network would be available for all-comers while more dedicated consumers would be able to access niche services after paying a premium. Iwata said, “We cannot promise here that Nintendo will always provide you with online services free of charge no matter how deep the experiences are that it may provide, but at least we are not thinking of asking our consumers to pay money to just casually get access to our ordinary online services.”
Iwata’s reasoning for this disparity is twofold. First, Iwata understands that there’s a crowd of gamers that only plays game when they become a trending topic (e.g. On Good Morning America they were playing this awesome game with animals and a mayor. Animal Walking? Talking Animals? I’m not sure, but I want it.) and charging those fair-weather players may turn them away.
Secondly, Iwata hopes that the Nintendo Network will spread excitement and fascination in a viral nature. Hence Nintendo’s Miiverse and its focus on seeing what the gaming population currently finds popular. Iwata explains, “In developing a network service called ‘Miiverse’ available for the Wii U, we are pursuing how to amplify and transmit consumers’ empathy about a game. For example, when you see another user enjoying the same game you also play say, ‘I enjoyed another game like this and that too,’ you might be interested in a game which otherwise would not be on your wish list at all.”
Nintendo has finally come around to integrating the Internet into their plans for success. While there’s no word on what services Nintendo may charge, the hiring of a Senior VP of Network Business is evidence that the Nintendo Network will be an asset in future profitability.
Nintendo’s foray into online networks has been haphazard in the past. Lackluster WiiWare offerings, limited demos, and lack of marketing have hampered success. Lately, with the 3DS eShop, they’ve held sales and gone out of their way to communicate what games will arrive on the service. Compare this to the Nintendo three years ago and it’s like looking at Mario and Wario. I’m not sure who’s who in this situation. Wario is the cool one.