Nintendo Network announced, will offer user accounts, DLC, more

By Andrew Yoon, Jan 27, 2012 6:00am PST

Nintendo has officially announced the "Nintendo Network," a new name for its online efforts. First mentioned in Mario Kart 7, the new service will replace the "Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection" that was standard in Nintendo's last-gen efforts.

The Nintendo Network will cover both the 3DS and the Wii U. The service will be far more comprehensive than the online coverage Nintendo has previously offered, and will provide gamers with features made standard by Xbox Live and PlayStation Network.

Mario Kart 7 already offers "community" features akin to clans in other online-enabled games. That concept will be expanded in future online titles on Nintendo platforms. More significantly, the Nintendo Network will eventually offer a user ID system, beginning with the Wii U. Referred to as a "personal account," Nintendo hopes that by having identities (and not friend codes), multiple family members will be able to use the same system.

The Nintendo Network

The Nintendo Network may also offer digital distribution of retail games. Nintendo has no set launch date for this feature, but notes that the "concept was built into the design of the Nintendo 3DS," and will be built into the Wii U as well.

Finally, the Nintendo Network will also provide downloadable content and add-ons. Square Enix's Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy will be the first game to provide DLC on the 3DS; additional songs can be purchased after release.

Nintendo has reiterated that its own DLC strategy will somehow be different from that of its competitors. The company has promised not to nickle and dime consumers with microtransactions, a popular business model for many freemium games. "Please note that Nintendo, as a software maker, does not plan to deploy businesses where our consumers cannot know in advance which item will appear as the result of their payment and they have to repeat the payments and, before they know it, they end up spending a huge amount of money in order to obtain the items they originally wanted to purchase."

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