Compared to Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, the Wii's online service is...somewhat lacking. While functional when put to use by capable hands, the Wii's free online is undoubtedly in last place when it comes to services, ease of use and capabilities offered. But hey, it's free, right?
For now it is, at least. In an interview with Edge, Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto explained the conundrum the company is facing with regards to their online business model:
… Probably the other thing that we are desperate to realise is the core [online] business structure. 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.
He also spoke out on criticisms leveled against the company for dragging its feet with regards to its online offerings, finding them largely unjust:
To be honest, I think it’s rather unfair whenever I hear such comments – that Nintendo isn’t proactive when it comes to its online strategy. The fact of the matter is that we always want all Wii consoles to be connected online, all the time, so Nintendo has never been less than proactive in that kind of endeavour. It is true, though, that Nintendo hasn’t been very proactive in developing such online activities as an MMOG. But when it comes to our endeavours that try to take advantage of internet technology, where we can provide our customers with more fun and entertainment, then I think we can say we have been very, very proactive and well-received. And that attitude won’t be changed at all in the future.
Whether a pay service appears or not is still something for the company to mull over, but keep in mind that this doesn't necessarily mean the current Wii online service will start costing you money any time soon. What are your thoughts on Nintendo charging for an online service? What would it have to do to be valuable to you? Are you satisfied with it as-is? Speak out in the comments!