Wii U maker tells analysts it will explore new business model with non-Mario, non-Pokemon game by end of fiscal year
Nintendo may be resisting bringing its brands to smartphones and tablets, but it’s still interested in the business models that have driven the mobile boom. As spotted by Polygon, analyst David Gibson attended a Nintendo briefing event at E3 today and tweeted about the company’s intention to explore free-to-play.
“Nintendo free-to-play game will be released this [fiscal year] but will not be Mario or Pokemon game as already have good relationship in those brands,” Gibson said. (Nintendo’s fiscal year ends in March of 2014.)
While the platform of that game wasn’t specified, Gibson said Nintendo president Satoru Iwata made the remark in a section of the briefing dedicated to the Wii U. Iwata also said that the 3DS’ success in Japan is proof that dedicated handheld platforms can thrive despite the competition from smartphones.
Nintendo has already indicated that it would welcome free-to-play business models on the Wii U. One of the earliest games announced for the system was Ubisoft’s free-to-play Ghost Recon Online. However, that project never actually launched on the system.
The company decides that the Nintendo Direct approach is better
In its financial results briefing, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata announced that the company will not have the traditional press conference event at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo. Instead, the company will be hosting two closed, software-focused events for press and distributors.
“We have decided not to host a large-scale presentation targeted at everyone in the international audience where we announce new information as we did in the past,” said Iwata in a transcript of the briefing. “Instead, at the E3 show this year, we are planning to host a few smaller events that are specifically focused on our software lineup for the U.S. market. There will be one closed event for American distributors, and we will hold another closed hands-on experience event, for mainly the Western gaming media.”
“During the E3 period, we will utilize our direct communication tools, such as Nintendo Direct, to deliver information to our Japanese audience, including those who are at this financial briefing, mainly focusing on the software that we are going to launch in Japan, and we will take the same approach outside Japan for the overseas fans as well.”
Iwata explained that Nintendo found that the broad conference event was not efficient, since it wasn’t specifically tailored to a certain audience.
“As video game fans are looking for information about games, it seems that they are less interested in sales figures that investors and analysts on the other hand attach much greater importance to, and distribution partners are looking for information on how we are going to market our products in the immediate future,” said Iwata.
“Given that we now have an established method such as Nintendo Direct, we feel that we will be able to deliver our messages more appropriately and effectively by doing so individually based on the various needs of different groups of people.”
Satoru Iwata is sorry that the day-one patch took so long to download and install.
New Wii U owners had to go through some trouble first time they booted up their console. A lengthy day-one update had to be downloaded, which in some cases took hours. And if the player got impatient and turned off the Wii U console, it would completely “brick” the device, making it useless.
That’s a serious design flaw in the hardware, and Nintendo is aware of it. Nintendo president Satoru Iwata apologized for the issues. “Personally, I think that users should be able to use all the functions of a console video game machine as soon as they open the box,” Iwata said in an interview with IGN, adding “So I feel very sorry for the fact that purchasers of Wii U have to experience a network update which takes such a long time, and that there are the services which were not available at the hardware’s launch.”
Iwata also said that Nintendo isn’t looking to mirror Xbox Live or PlayStation Network with the Wii U’s online features. Instead, Nintendo wants to do something new with the Wii U. One of such things is Miiverse, as Iwata pointed out, which sets Nintendo apart from the competition.
The Wii U launched in North America on Nov 18 and sold over 400,000 units during its first week on the market. It launches in Europe tomorrow (Nov 30), and on December 7 in Japan. Hopefully Nintendo has corrected the issues so that European and Japanese Wii U owners won’t have to go through such a lengthy day-one update.
The Wii U’s Nintendo Network ID system, the console’s alternative to Friend Codes, will support up to 12 users per a console, allow third-party publishers to create their own online networks and require a sizable day-one patch to work, Nintendo president president Satoru Iwata said during an early morning video stream.
What remains unclear, though, is how many Network IDs, which handle friend lists, purchases and online activity, can be assigned to a single console and what role user IDs, which are personalized for each gamer, have in terms of those services.
Wii U owners will first be required to create a user account for the device prior to creating their Nintendo Network ID, with each console allowing a maximum of 12 user accounts. This is followed by designing a Mii avatar.
A Nintendo Network ID is created next, with users asked to input a password, date of birth, gender, location and email address. This ID is used for eShop purchases, as well as within Miiverse and video chat.
Iwata said that the system allows users to register a Wii U user as a friend, “just like a friend code.”
The system will also use the ID to track who purchased which games.
“Download software and add-on content purchased in Nintendo eShop can be played by all users registered to that console,” he said.
Iwata added that the Nintendo Network will also work with various other network services with different software developers via their own network. This seems to leave the door open to system’s like EA’s Origin working on the console.
“Once you link your Nintendo Network ID to another network service,” Iwata said, “you can use each software developer’s service using your Nintendo Network ID.”
It also sounds like that Network ID will be headed to other Nintendo hardware, though Iwata wasn’t clear if that means future hardware, or if it could come to existing portables as well. Nintendo plans to incorporate this ID with PC and smartphone devices further down the line.
The user account ID, not the Network ID, will be used to save game settings, save data, pre-installed software and Wii U games to the console, Iwata said. The account will also allow users to save bookmark’s for the console’s internet browser and save play history. Some games will allow you to share save data among multiple users, he added.
This ID will be used when the console is first turned on, to select a user, Iwata said.
Iwata said that to use the online services, gamers will have to download what could be a large day one update to the console.
Finally, Iwata explained that Wii owners will be able to transfer Virtual Console and WiiWare titles to their Wii U as as well as save data. That process will be detailed at a later date, he said.
Nintendo will release the Wii U on Nov. 18 in North America. The Wii U will be released on Nov. 30 in Europe and Australia, then on Dec. 8 in Japan.
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