Microsoft charges $60 a year for its gold-tiered membership on Xbox Live. Sony charges $50 a year for its PlayStation Plus membership on the PlayStation Network. Will Nintendo charge for a similar premium service on its upcoming Nintendo Network?
According to the company’s 72nd annual general meeting of shareholders, the answer is “no.”
As the last of the three major console manufacturers to develop a unified online infrastructure, Nintendo’s shareholders sounded worried when they asked the company how they plan to compensate for the increased costs for its online services. As an example, they asked if Nintendo plans to include a monthly fee.
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“We have a wide variety of consumers,” said Satoru Iwata, the president of Nintendo, “from the ones who enthusiastically play video games to those playing more casually…. We therefore believe that services which ask our consumers to obtain paid memberships are not always the best.”
With the upcoming release of the Wii U, Nintendo has plans to expand its online gaming services by connecting the new console to the Nintendo Network. The company also plans to do the same with their 3DS handheld, promising that it will be “more deeply connected.”
“While 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” Iwata said, “but at least we are not thinking of asking our consumers to pay money to just casually get access to our ordinary online services.”
In lieu of a proper subscription, Iwata believes that the Nintendo Network will “eventually contribute to our overall profits” via word of mouth among players connected to its services. He cites the Miiverse service on the Wii U, which shows players what other games people are playing and lets people recommend them to one another with messages and comments.
“In other words, even if we will not directly get paid by such online services, they will help build the circumstance where consumers are more constantly playing games on our platforms, which will increase the sales potential of new games,” said Iwata.