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Should Nintendo start offering a paid online service? Would you subscribe? [roundtable]
So earlier today, the unfortunate news has broken that Nintendo is shutting down its Wi-Fi Connection service for all Wii/DS games.

This is obviously sad news for those of us who still play and enjoy these games. That being said however, it was a free service and despite Nintendo's other limitations in the online space, we had a pretty good run considering the cost. Of course this raises the spectre of the same thing eventually happening to 3DS/WiiU. Which is just as depressing.

So I can't help but wonder if the time has come for Nintendo to bite the bullet and start offering a paid service ala XBL/PSN, the proceeds of which would go towards keeping these online services running for a while longer instead of shutting down soon after the generation ends.

With both Microsoft and Sony already charging for their own networks, Nintendo aren't likely to actually lose customers with such a move, so I think it's viable. That being said, a paid subscription would require some basic level of functionality to come with it- Namely proper voice chat, matchmaking, leaderboards etc.

I don't know what the potential is for Nintendo to undercut the other two on costs whilst providing the service, but the entire concept bears looking into IMO.

So what do you guys think? Is it finally time for Nintendo to join the big boys in a wider online world? What would you be prepared to pay?

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Posted: 02/27/14, 09:27:59  - Edited by 
 on: 02/27/14, 09:27:47
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Why not sign up for a (free) account and create your own content?
No thanks. Gaming is expensive enough. Hows about instead of constantly testing what the market will bear, the companies can compete to offer the best services at the best price. Why don't we go back to trying that for a while?

I don't like how much games business realized dedicated fans are REALLY dedicated and thus they can get away with a lot of crap. The time to stop this is ... well, 6 or 7 years ago. But there is still hope with Nintendo! So... no... I'm good with free.
Posted: 02/27/14, 09:37:16
As it stands now I don't use the service because it is so anemic. From that perspective the option of paying to get a competent service to play Nintendo games on would absolutely be a step up.

The issue I see though is that they need to convince people of its value. Nintendo online doesn't exactly have the best reputation so asking people to pay for it would be a tough sell. Sony started charging for their online play but managed to tie it to a service a lot of people were already happy with and that served them pretty well I think. Also there was the whole new generation thing and both MS and Nintendo were not putting up much stiff competition in terms of favorable opinions so consumers were more likely to cut Sony a break on that one.
Posted: 02/27/14, 10:01:14

No-one is saying they can't compete. I wouldn't suggest that Nintendo charge as much as Microsoft and Sony, a smaller fee would be more preferable.

But 'free' leads to the situation that we have now with the service disappearing fairly quickly after the gen ends. Are you really good with that? Because I'm not. I like my online modes to have a little more shelf life.
Posted: 02/27/14, 10:47:42
Awww, I didn't know they were shutting the Wii/DS services down. Expected, but still sad. I had good times with Mario Kart, Goldeneye, Last Story and even Conduit. Oh, and I guess this means I won't get access to all the "DLC" puzzles in the latest DS Layton, which sucks.

Still, one of the things I think puts Nintendo above the rest is that they go with affordable services, like free online, so I wouldn't want to pay for a subscription of any kind if I could avoid it. What they're doing right now, for free, is really good as far as I'm concerned.

EDIT: If, at some point in the future, Nintendo would give consumers the option of paying for features they're currently not providing, I suppose I could accept that, but if they would make a paid subscription mandatory for all online features -- no matter how robust -- I'd be beyond disappointed.
Posted: 02/27/14, 12:15:35  - Edited by 
 on: 02/27/14, 16:19:18
If they offered feature parity with the competition, I'd bite. But I wouldn't pay money for the mediocre online experience we've gotten thus far.
Posted: 02/27/14, 13:43:31
Nope. I guess I'd turn to PC gaming for online stuff. I already pay an exorbitant amount of money for the internet as it is. Being forced to pay for something I already pay for just never made sense to me.
Posted: 02/27/14, 14:07:35
Not with the current feature-set, no. But if we had more parity with other consoles, sure.
Posted: 02/27/14, 16:01:01
The plug-in and play aspect of Nintendo's consoles is one of the key attractions for me. I already have monthly entertainment costs with Netflix and cable and Internet. I don't want to add to it.
Posted: 02/27/14, 16:07:29
I'd be willing to pay a yearly fee if Nintendo also offered something similar to Playstation Plus, with free games each month and additional discounts on games. Basically something to justify the cost of a paid network.
Posted: 02/27/14, 16:07:51  - Edited by 
 on: 02/27/14, 16:08:25
I wouldn't pay for it, no. If they should or not, doesn't really matter to me, I just wouldn't play online. The PC is free, and that's good enough for me. I play one online game every few months, usually.
Posted: 02/27/14, 17:58:49
kriswright said:
If they offered feature parity with the competition, I'd bite. But I wouldn't pay money for the mediocre online experience we've gotten thus far.

Same here. Throw us some "free" games like how Sony does and I might be satisfied. It'd be standard across the industry at that point, so why not?
Posted: 02/27/14, 18:03:06
On the one hand, if there was like, a subscription service for the VC, I'd be all over it. Imagine Nintendo basically having the Netflix of classic video games on their console. I think it'd be huge. $10 a month, play all the VC games you want. Or something like that.

On the other hand, I kind of like that they're the last place on consoles where you don't have to pay to play online. This isn't a problem on the PC, so maybe Nintendo and Valve and other companies can keep SOME place online where we don't have to pay to play.
Posted: 02/27/14, 18:05:57
It really depends, if it's XBL where they basically put up a pay wall that blocks you from using your own ISP to watch Netflix or play a game then NO.

If it's like Playstation Plus that gives you a library of games that spans both consoles and handhelds, then YES.

At the very least Nintendo would have to allow us to have friends lists and trophies and robust messaging (and of course access to the games you buy).
Posted: 02/27/14, 20:19:49
I would not pay for it. I pay for PSN and XBL, but I get something quality out of that deal. I just can't imagine Nintendo being able to convince me that their online offering would be worth paying for. UNLESS, they had like a PS+ thing where I got free access to games and big discounts on lots of titles. THEN I'd pay them.
Posted: 02/27/14, 20:36:59
I don't really play online games enough to justify paying a subscription fee, so count me out. I hope they keep it just as it is so I can play the occasional Mario Kart race or what have you.
Posted: 02/27/14, 21:23:39
I would never pay for the simple act of playing a game, online included. Games are expensive so I already consider the price of the game as also the price to play online.
Posted: 02/27/14, 21:28:05
It all comes down to how much and what they're offering.

Though at this point, the service I want Nintendo to push for is a subscription based service for the Virtual Console. You pay say $15/month and you have full access to Virtual Console (Nintendo of course would have to put most games on Wii's Virtual Console up on Wii U's) as long as you remain a subscriber.
Posted: 02/27/14, 21:35:52

Well, ideally you could take advantage of all that you paid for indefinitely. But that's just never been the nature of online or purely digital content. It is only "yours" until the plug is pulled. So, no, I never like the idea of sending money at situations like that. As others have said, I already pay for internet access. If the game companies want our business, lure us in with attractive offers... don't just make an industry such that there is no good online console gaming without an additional fee. But, that's the slope we slipped on by letting MS charge for the privilege. "But it's high quality!" Yea, high quality should have been the goal no matter what. High quality shouldn't be a bonus. ... just my opinion.
Posted: 02/27/14, 22:01:38

Paying an internet service provider doesn't pay Nintendo's costs in running servers for online gaming, so that's a non-sequitur. Paying for the game does but when the server goes on for years after the game has stopped generating a profit, companies are going to have to draw the line somewhere. Your arch nemeses of digital distribution and DLC help publishers make profit from their games longer and can therefore extend the life of online gaming for their titles.

By the way, your possession of any property is subject to revocation, be it by its physical degradation, the government's taking or failing to recognize your rights in it, and eventually your death. I'm sure you don't have to worry about those things too much, but there's no evidence I have to worry about my Steam library either.
Posted: 02/27/14, 22:20:51

But do you really think we deserve high quality for free? Like Jargon says, there *is* an additional cost to the maintenance of these things beyond what we already shell out for our games. In a sort or reverse situation of the slippery slope you describe with XBL, I could argue that the freewheeling nature of PC online services have fostered a sort of entitlement mentality where we just assume these things should be free.

Do I think XBL is a paticularly fair deal? Not entirely. I'm willing to shell out for it, but I think it could be done for cheaper. That's kind of where I want Nintendo to head, that middle ground. Like has been suggested, as long as Nintendo offers value for the service, such as access to VC library service ala Netflix, or some other such things, I think it's a good idea.

I absolutely agree with the people who think we shouldn't be paying for the same service has given us so far as well. I'm happy with what we've got being free, but Nintendo would absolutely need to step up their game if they want to charge.

Actually a sort of tiered/hybrid service could be neat. Some basic online functionality available out of the box- Barebones online modes, limited feature set AND the ability to access other subscription services like Netflix that are ridiculously paywalled on XBL when they shouldn't be. But subscribing to 'Nintendo Network Premium' or whatever unlocks the full gamut of extra features you would expect from a paid online service.

That would keep a lot more people happy IMO.
Posted: 02/27/14, 22:53:22
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