Nintendo held its annual shareholder's meeting this week, and one of the topics raised in the discussion was how Nintendo would approach its online network for Wii U and 3DS. Nintendo is aware that it needs to do more to bolster its online offerings, which is why Nintendo of America just hired a senior vp of network business, but the company feels that charging online users is the wrong approach.
According to a translation (by Andriasang) of comments made at the meeting, Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata noted that Nintendo did think about the idea of a paid online service similar to Microsoft's popular Xbox Live but ultimately the company decided it would limit the number of online users Nintendo would attract.
Keeping the online service open and free, and "by having everyone use the Miiverse together, word of mouth will more easily spread. This will lead to greater hardware and software sales," reads the translation.
Wii U launches this holiday season, and Nintendo has high hopes for much better third-party support than the company saw with Wii. In fact, Iwata mentioned that "Nintendo started sharing information with third parties at about the same time as its internal teams" and "Nintendo also holds seminars and dispatches employees to other companies."
A solid online offering and robust third-party support could go a long way towards making Wii U a success. The key piece of information the industry is waiting on, however, is how much Wii U will retail for. That will be a critical factor for Nintendo's success.