Since the Wii launched, Nintendo has kept the system's basic online functionality completely free. However, the company might not be married to that business model. In an interview with Edge, Nintendo senior managing director and Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto addressed Nintendo's online plans, suggesting that the company needs to get its online act together.
"Probably the other thing that we are desperate to realize is the core [online] business structure," Miyamoto said. "Do we need to demand customers pay monthly fees to enjoy online activities? Or give an online subscription that is free of charge, but then offer something extra for people that pay, so that they get some extra value? With these core business strategies, I think we are less active than we should be."
However, Miyamoto did defend Nintendo's online efforts to date, noting that the company wants its consoles to be connected online constantly. He also acknowledged that the company "hasn't been very proactive" when it comes to segments like the massively multiplayer online genre, but said the company has implemented online features well in areas "where we can provide our customers with more fun and entertainment."
Nintendo's approach to online gaming has been a subject of much discussion since the days of the GameCube. A week before the system's 2001 North American launch, Miyamoto said Nintendo would only enter the online business when the market is ready. The company's stance toward online remained essentially unchanged until the announcement of the Wii. A Nintendo of America executive in 2002 dismissed connected gaming as "a niche area," and company president Satoru Iwata in 2004 bluntly stated, "customers do not want online games."