Wii Pay To Play: My Thoughts

Posted: March 26, 2008 in Video Games
Tags: , , , ,

My Wii Friends Code: 1000 5103 9700 5621 
(please add me to your console…need Smash friends)   

I enjoy playing many different types of games online through many different consoles and have been doing so since the days where my Dreamcast was proudly displayed in my living room.  Flash forward to 2008 and I now play online with both my Wii and my Xbox 360.  While the Xbox 360 has always required a fee to play games online the Wii up until recent announcements stating otherwise, has offered online play at no additional cost.  The Wii has a very miniscule library of games that support robust online game play and generally speaking the online experience through a Wii pales in comparison to what you get through Xbox Live.  I have spent some time reading up on the “Pay to Play” service that was introduced by Nintendo not long ago.

Now mind you, I have no problem paying a fee to play a game online when I get to play with anyone I want and have the ability to speak with other players, whether I know them or not, through a headset.  Additional downloadable content is also something I expect when I’m asked to pay an additional cost to play a game I’ve already paid for, online.  To sum things up, I expect a complete and full-bodied online experience if when I’m asked to pay for the privilege of playing online and I expect this experience to incorporate current and unrestrictive technology.

I hadn’t given to much thought on Nintendo’s “Pay to Play” announcement until I listened to an IGN Wii podcast today.  In this podcast Wii channel editors, Bozon and Matt state very clearly that they are under embargo and are unable to talk about Mario Kart Wii’s online mode in any capacity.  It suddenly and alarmingly became clear to me at least, that Nintendo doesn’t want anyone talking about Mario Kart’s online mode because Nintendo is planning on charging us to race online.  To further push my belief in that direction, Bozon clearly states that Mario Kart Wii does not include an offline multiplayer Grand Prix mode.  Sure playing Mario Kart alone is fun but the real meat and potatoes of the series has always been its multiplayer modes and more specifically the ability to race against a friend.  How convenient is it that we will no longer have the ability to race against a friend offline?

I am having a really hard time with this for a few reasons…

1.  If I remember correctly the “Pay to Play” announcement came at GDC back in February of this year. Mario Kart’s street date is April 27th 2008.  I think the majority of Mario Kart fans assumed that the game would support a free online mode much like Smash Bros. Brawl does.  With only two months or so between the announcement and the games release, Nintendo is curiously quiet about Kart’s online mode and are forbidding insiders to speak about it.  I’m getting a sinking feeling that Mario Kart will serve as Nintendo’s Trojan Horse sneaking in an online fee that will surprise many gamers, like yours truly who just preordered the game.  If this turns out to be true I’ll be exchanging the game for something else, I’m not supporting a limited and overly restrictive online experience.

2.   In the era where Nintendo referred to the Wii as The Revolution the company stated that while 3rd party games may carry an online fee Nintendo made games would remain free to play online.  This is perhaps the most irritating aspect surrounding Nintendo’s Pay to Play.  Though the companies focus is a casual crowd the company should have had the foresight to see that people would want things like voice chat, and downloadable content.  They should have charged for online play from the beginning though the fees should have been minimal as the Wii can not offer anything close to an Xbox Live experience.  Many gamers are upset over this announcement and I’m guessing that should Mario Kart carry online fees, there’s going to be a large group of disenchanted Wii supporters.

3.  I don’t know how many 360 owners also own a Wii, but the online gaming crowd is primarily composed of hardcore gamers and I’m not sure that anyone who’s been on Live will pay to play something through their Wii.  No voice chat, friends codes, etc.  Fairly weak in my opinion.

My hope is that nobody pays to play anything through their Wii.  To do so supports Nintendo’s incomplete and abysmal online model and tells them what they’re doing is profitable.  Like everything else that’s bad on the Wii though, it’ll probably be highly profitable and games with fees will sell millions of copies.

  1. Deity Rob says:

    Just another reason why the WII is phallic and inferior to it’s counterparts.

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