Nintendo president Satoru Iwata downplays the need for a Wii U online gaming network.
Future Wii U owners anticipating a robust online component on par with Sony's PlayStation Network or Microsoft's Xbox Live may be disappointed to hear what Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has to say.
During an analyst Q&A session at E3 last week, Iwata said that online gaming networks on platforms like the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 are "not particularly well suited to the approach Nintendo has taken" with Wii U.
In response to a question about Nintendo's efforts to "catch up to, surpass and compete with the existing vendors" in the online space, Iwata said, well, it doesn't really plan to.
"I can't sit here and say to you that we can very quickly overcome or catch up to other companies, which began to work in the online field from many years ago and have been building these online networks on other platforms," Iwata said, "and I don't think that would be a smart strategy, either."
In addition to the R&D expense required to build a competitive online infrastructure for Wii U, Iwata expressed concern about the negative aspects associated with online play.
"[P]arents and grandparents view our products as good products to buy for their children and grandchildren without any concerns," he said. "We also think that it's important that in such an environment, skilled game players and beginners are able to play together, and in a way that both parties come out with smiles on their faces."
Just prior to E3 2012, Nintendo unveiled its Miiverse platform, an online social network for Wii U that lets players communicate and "empathize" with each other. Later that week, Nintendo revealed that one of the system's marquee launch titles, Pikmin 3, won't feature online multiplayer support due to "technical issues."
"We're not completely getting rid of Friend Codes, but a function of the 'Miiverse' will simplify the process of making friends with another user in the platform by eliminating the need to input Friend Codes."
While Nintendo has included over-the-internet multiplayer in select Nintendo DS, Wii and Nintendo 3DS titles, it has been slower than its competitors in embracing the online space.
"Because we were first to try online content [with the Famicom]," Iwata said in an interview with CNN Money way back in 2004, "Nintendo was aware how difficult it was to make online a lucrative business. The reason why Nintendo is basically against the current business model of online is because it asks the subscribers to pay a subscription fee."
Nintendo said at a similar Q&A session at last year's E3 that the company was working on a "flexible" online solution for the Wii U.
"As we discuss the online structure with different publishers, the things that the different publishers want to do are in fact seemingly rather different," Iwata said at the time. "Our current direction is how we can take the desires of the third parties and create a system that's flexible enough to enable them to do the types of things that they might want to do."