Nintendo Finally Embraces Online Play

Nine years after Microsoft launched Xbox Live, and five years after Sony launched the Playstation Network, Nintendo announced that it’s building its own online service, called the Nintendo Network.

As Mashable reports, the Nintendo Network will offer the requisite connected console fare, including user accounts, online multiplayer, downloadable add-ons and eventually full game downloads.

Although Nintendo’s Wii and 3DS can already connect to the Internet for downloadable games, online play and a couple of streaming video apps, the company’s online services are limited compared to what Microsoft and Sony offer. Nintendo doesn’t currently sell add-ons for existing games, offer system-wide voice support or even allow players to choose an online nickname that other players can easily look up.

Nintendo is still being cagey about the particulars of its upcoming network, but there have been clues. Last July, Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime told Forbes that Nintendo will allow other publishers’ networks -- services like Valve’s Steam and EA’s Origin, I assume -- to operate as part of Nintendo’s online service:

“So instead of a situation where a publisher has their own network and wants that to be the predominant platform, and having arguments with platform holders, we’re going to welcome that. We’re going to welcome that from the best and the brightest of the third party publishers,” Fils-Aime said.

How that’ll work remains unclear. Actually, see if you can make sense of the business jargon in Nintendo president Satoru Iwata’s statement on the matter: “Unlike Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, which has been focused upon specific functionalities and concepts, we are aiming to establish a platform where various services available through the network for our consumers shall be connected via Nintendo Network service so that the company can make comprehensive proposals to consumers.”

Verbose statements to investors aside, I’m just happy Nintendo’s working on something.

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