George Harrison, Nintendo of America VP of marketing, has hinted strongly that Nintendo will not be rolling out any online strategy in this generation of hardware, although the company is looking into it for N5.
Speaking in an interview with the Puget Sound Business Journal, Harrison commented that "we just don't believe consumers are ready for [online gaming]. Right now, no one's paying for subscriptions. The real test comes when you have to start coughing up $15 a month."
He did concede, however, that online gaming is a "consideration" for Nintendo, and said that the company is "looking into it for the next iteration of the GameCube" - the home console which Nintendo is known to have in development at present, but is known only by the moniker "N5".
This tends to suggest that we will not be seeing any change in Nintendo's current stance on online gaming. At present, the company supports online game launches from third party publishers (such as Sega's Phantasy Star Online), but claims that it is not planning any online titles itself.
Microsoft and Sony have now rolled out online services in all three major global territories for their consoles, but the numbers of subscribers remain relatively low - with estimates for the combined numbers of console online gamers ranging from one to two million players, only a tiny fraction of the 60-million odd installed base of the two consoles.
Harrison was speaking to the Business Journal about the future of the GameCube following Acclaim's decision to stop developing new titles for the console, and Microsoft's continued claims to have made significant gains over Nintendo in the "race for second place".
He told the publication that Nintendo remains in contact with Acclaim, and said that although existing projects at Acclaim will be finished and released, no new Acclaim games will appear on the Cube once they are completed - confirming the statements made by Acclaim CEO Rod Cousens recently.
However, as Wedbrush Morgan Securities research director Michael Pachter told the Journal, the race for second place doesn't matter greatly given the size of Sony's lead over the competition. "It's not a good announcement that Acclaim won't be supporting GameCube anymore, if it's the first of many," he commented. "I don't think it will be. I can tell you the GameCube is in no more trouble than the Xbox."