Nintendo Reveals Online Plans

Hedging and wavering are now in the past, as Nintendo has announced its intentions to enter the online gaming fray. Slated to begin this fall with the launch of Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II, the Gamecube's online network is being touted as revolutionary by the company.

"Nintendo is known for great gaming and our first priority is to continue that legacy," explains Satoru Iwata, director, corporate planning, Nintendo Co. Ltd. "Game content developed with that sole mission will enhance the joy of video gaming."

"The profitable part of the online business is very likely several years away. Entering the business because it's the hot topic of the day doesn't make a profitable business nor satisfied customers," Iwata adds. "That's why it will be a part of Nintendo's strategy, not the mainstay, as other companies are attempting to do. There still are too many barriers for any company to greatly depend on it."

The company will build its philosophy on the conviction that successful online play is a combination of affordability and compelling gameplay. Having made development kits available worldwide, the company will also offer incentive to developers through its flexible development program, favorable publisher business model, and even-handed support for both narrowband and broadband connections. Additionally, the company will not chareg royalty fees from online revenues generated by charges for those titles. The idea here is to lower the risk involved in producing a game, as well as to increase the developer's incentive to put out a higher-quality product. Nintendo also hopes to inspire innovation through these incentives.

While Nintendo's plans appear to be primarily based upon third-party efforts in the short term, the company is researching and developing new ways in which to expand the online gaming world, so expect to see some titles in the not-too-distant future. There will, unfortunately, be nothing on display at E3 from Nintendo itself; however, PSO Episode I & II will be playable at Sega's booth at the show, which begins on May 22. Nintendo will begin selling both the Gamecube v.90 Modem Adapter and the Gamecube Broadband Adapter this fall at retail for a suggested price of $34.95 US each.

by Andrew Long    
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