Nintendo's president claims subscriptions may be in order for people who "enthusiastically play video games."
Nintendo boss Satoru Iwata has stated that, while "ordinary" Wii U online services will remain free of charge for the foreseeable future, there may come a day when Nintendo starts charging for so-called "deep" online gaming. His announcement was aimed at the hard-core amongst you; Nintendo has no intention of charging casual gamers for their fun, but the rest may have to pay for their pleasures.
"We cannot promise that Nintendo will always provide you with online services free of charge no matter how deep the experiences are that it may provide," Iwata said in a shareholder meeting, as he spoke out against the practice of charging a subscription fee for online access. He said subscription services just don't suit the casual gamer who dips into his console collection for a short or limited period. "We therefore believe that services which ask our consumers to obtain paid memberships are not always the best," he claimed, but added that saying subscriptions didn't suit casual gamers didn't mean that Nintendo would never use a subscription-based service. It meant that Nintendo would only use it on those gamers who, as Iwata described them, "enthusiastically play video games."
"We plan to expand various network services for the Wii U," Iwata said in reply to a shareholder question about covering online costs, adding that this expansion would also include the 3DS and any future additions to Nintendo's console stable. Without elaborating on those systems, in the next breath Iwata went on to say that "we are not thinking of asking our consumers to pay money to just casually get access to our ordinary online services."
Judging by the tenor of Iwata's answer, Nintendo has no intention of switching to a fee-paying online service for the hardcores just yet, and indeed he mentions no date. This is a statement intended to reassure nervous shareholders that Nintendo is "considering the necessary and appropriate services," as Iwata describes it. Shareholders are looking at Nintendo's costs and wondering how the company intends to cover them; Iwata wants to pacify these worried money men without saying anything he may later regret.