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intimate's blog

4:43 AM on 02.23.2008

Nintendo, Pay & Play, Scaremongering

I'm late to this party, please excuse me.

Over at GoNintendo I caught an awful lot of fear, rumor, superstition and baseless speculation over Nintendo's Pay & Play announcement at GDC.

I posted the following lengthy comment. To put things in the proper context, the primary worries that required addressing were:

Super Smash Bros. Brawl going Pay & Play;
Paying REAL MONEYS for an online service that is, and I'm paraphrasing here, "FUNDAMENTALLY BROKEN AND/ OR IS NOT XBOX LIVE";
Downloadable content for games that... do not support downloadable content (largely, new characters in Smash);

[i]Anybody worrying over Smash need not bother. At this stage in the game it's far too late to enforce any sort of pay and play. Nintendo haven't even announced any products USING this type of system.

People crying about how online needs to be "FIXED" and how you wont pay for an online system that has fewer features than XBL etc need to take a step back and put down the anxiety meds. Let Nintendo do what they're going to do. I envision a system whereby Nintendo will do online things in a fundamentally Nintendo way. Whether that means a lack of communication or even communication with safeguards built in to protect kids we've yet to see. Screaming about how it sucks and Nintendo Sucks and how XBL is better and how Friend Codes suck isn't going to change the way Nintendo do business. If you want to change it, stop buying their products.

I wouldn't expect Smash DLC. The game probably doesn't have such a feature built into it so it's not very likely to happen.

Those of you wishing for hard drives, it could go either way. The Wii/Refrigerator analogy is a strong case for there not being any hard drive. At least Nintendo, unlike Apple's iTunes allow you to redownload content you've already purchased and deleted. On the flip side, if many, MANY games support such a notion. If the size of said content starts to outstrip the available facilities on the Wii, Nintendo may very well relent and produce a hard drive. With that said, I can see DLC taking a very similar line to WiiWare games. A feasible size limit to reduce the likelihood of any one game taking up all the available space.

Let's take a step back and look at this for what it really is:

Nintendo are offering a further revenue source for game DEVELOPERS, not for you people. If developers demand certain features to be available, Nintendo are far more likely to listen to them than they are to you. At the end of the day if a particular feature, (eg: voice chat), is going to sell many more units then it's in Nintendo's interest to provide such a feature. The lack of said features will result in a lessened gameplay experience and as such translates to less units sold which results in lower profits for Nintendo.

They even went out of their way to explain that games supporting Pay & Play will have a DIFFERENT icon compared to those supporting WFC. Common sense tells us that this means they are not doing away with free online for multiplayer. It's also not a very big stretch to assume that something like this will be rolled out VERY, VERY slowly. We're talking about a company that can't release a AAA title in three different regions in the space of a single month.

My last point is an important one, probably the most important. I mentioned earlier in my lengthy comment about how Nintendo will do things in a fundamentally Nintendo way. Do any of you REALLY want a carbon copy of XBL? Sure there are features we'd love to have, names associated with people, voice chat, the ability to rate a player based on fairness, respectfulness etc, but there are ways of doing these things that won't result in Nintendo doing things the "Microsoft Way".

Online leaderboards aren't worth bothering with. I'm not one of those people who claim that children are damaged or hurt when they lose at tag or hide-and-go-seek, but online leader boards serve next to no purpose beyond giving someone the ability to claim that they're the "BEST" at something that's influenced not just by latency, but often the frequency at which they play matches, the level of skill of a random opponent somewhere in the world. They aren't a substitute for any kind of tournament and all they do is breed elitism and segregation. Those aren't things Nintendo wants with their policy of inclusion and a fun experience for the entire family.

If this is TL;DR and nobody cares, I'm sorry I wasted your time. I do, however, think it's important to let Nintendo come to the table and let them show US what they want to offer. Useless conjecture and worthless speculation isn't going to sway anybody, it'll just make everybody offer up a WISH LIST of features they want and when Nintendo do announce whatever they're going to announce. We'll all be disappointed.[/i]

To summarize:

As gamers we often have to make do with cryptic announcements and poorly worded premise for the video games we would like to play (JOHN ROMERO IS ABOUT TO MAKE YOU HIS BITCH). Often we'll supplement that with speculation and, on occasion, genuine insight into what will make the loose outline we see in front of us become reality and actually worth playing. The baseless speculation that surrounds the worthwhile conversation we engage in on a daily basis serves no purpose and it's starting to get very tiresome.

Please don't write me off as someone who will defend Nintendo to the hilt. They're trying to do something different with their online instead of just ripping off Live and having the stigma of reiterating instead of innovating. I don't agree with everything Nintendo do online. I do see a point to friend codes, though I obviously see the benefit in linking a friend code to a name or a tag I can associate in my head with a particular person.

What I'm trying to say in all of this is, just give them a chance. Please?   read

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