This past week during the company’s annual shareholder meeting Nintendo President Satoru Iwata revealed that the Wii U’s online service will be free, and will not require users to have a paid membership to access features.
According to the Andriasang translated report, Iwata stated that he “doesn’t necessarily reject the idea of a paid [online] service” but believes that is not the “best approach” for Nintendo’s customers. Adding, that by making the Wii U’s online features, like the Miiverse, free “word of mouth will more easily spread. This will lead to greater hardware and software sales.”
As a result of the Wii U being on roughly equal footing (in terms of power) with the existing HD consoles, Nintendo is going to have to provide extras with the system that will make it more appealing to users who are already invested on Xbox Live or PSN. Providing a free online service is certainly a good start towards that end, but it will take a lot more to pull customers away from those markets. Hopefully, this announcement is just the tip of the iceberg and Nintendo has plenty of other incentives to announce before the Wii U launches later this year.