Nintendo caused a stir back in January when it announced that its latest game console, the , would break convention and charge gamers to play online. Despite the initial outrage and though shocking at the time, the gaming community has slowly come to accept its financial fate.
But, that being said, until now we’ve never had a full explanation for what, exactly, Nintendo’s going to use the money for.
According to one of Japan’s largest and oldest gaming magazines, , the answer it turns out is less heinous than you might expect: quality control.
Famitsu’s original interview with Nintendo executives Shinya Takahashi and Yoshiaki Koizumi was recently translated by and the pair cite rising costs for online services and a focus on quality as the two primary reasons for the surcharge.
“We decided to charge for the service because we are concerned with customer satisfaction,” Takahashi said. “We’ll be maintaining the online service and providing new services that we haven’t had up until now, and there are costs associated with those.
“We’d also like to maintain a stable playing experience and provide proper support. We are working to prepare all of the features until the service begins in the fall of 2017, and details on the service will be available at a later time.”
Taking a page from Microsoft’s book
While the decision to charge for online multiplayer is very un-Nintendo, it’s a move that Microsoft made in the very beginning of Xbox Live and, in many ways, was the key to the service’s success.
By charging for the service and putting the money towards internal servers, Microsoft had more control over the experience for gamers. While Sony often relied on publishers and developers to host their own servers to varying success (some games had awful downtimes or lag during online matches), Microsoft could allocate resources easier using its own servers.
Now, it’s worth pointing out that Nintendo is no Microsoft, so just because the latter had great success in this area doesn’t mean the former will, too … but so far at least we haven’t had any issues with the system’s online multiplayer.
Let’s just hope it stays that way as more players come online over the coming months.