Cube Online Soon

Cube Online Soon

Of the three main rivals in the ongoing console wars, Nintendo are certainly the ones that have shown least interest in online gaming. While Microsoft have been shouting at the top of their voices about XBox Live and Sony have been pushing their online adaptors, Nintendo have adopted an almost snobbish approach to online connectivity for their console.

At first glance it seems natural that Nintendo would react in that way since their console seems to be the one least equipped to handle online connectivity. Part of the decreased interest Nintendo are showing also has to do with the nature of GC owners. With a lower average age than that of users of the other two consoles, GC users are less likely to show an interest in online gaming and even less likely to ba able to afford the subscriptions involved.
Many claim that the company have just accepted that they will lose 2nd place to Microsoft and are just keeping investment to a minimum. Those who know a bit about the market however, cannot believe that a company that has lasted this long in the console field is about to lose the battle hands down.

Those considerations aside Nintendo have promised, half-heartedly, some form of online accessory for the GameCube so as to support titles such as Sega's Phantasy Star Online. A little known fact is that Nintendo have already had a rather successful crack at online gaming. Pokemon Crystal players were able to battle or trade creatures over mobile phone links. That particular venture was confined to Japan however, due to the great mobile phone network differences between Japan and the U.S.

The secret behind the Kyoto based company's approach may however lie in two pieces of information which recently saw the light of day. One has to do with a very big public announcement, promised by the company and the other with an application Nintendo placed with the Japanese Patent Office.

The Announcement

Nintendo have promised a huge official announcement, hinting that it would greatly affect hardware sales. Speculation about the subject matter of such an announcement has brought up the possibility of an online card since not much else would be worthy of the huge tag.

The Patent

Only recently Nintendo filed for a patent in Japan in order to register a server technology related to massively multiplayer online gaming. Not something you would expect from a company not interested in online connectivity. Details of the patent are just beginning to filter through so it is not yet clear what is involved.

Nintendo have another advantage if they decide to pursue online gaming for the GameCube. They have always argued that their games focus on playability rather than technology. In doing so they have managed to frequently create titles which optimize the marriage between gaming and technology, creating games that rely on technology only in order to improve their playability. This approach provides an advantage for Nintendo titles as far as online play is concerned. With the majority of U.S. and European gamers relying on 56k connections, Nintendo could offer titles that can just as easily be played over a broadband or 56k modem.

With Microsoft's XBox Live main attraction, namely Halo 2, being almost a year away and with Sony's Final Fantasy XI still carrying an undetermined western release date, Nintendo have the perfect opportunity to introduce their online adaptors.
If that introduction is coupled with the, rumoured, major revamping of the Pokemon saga, then Pokemon Online could offer the company the chance of a clean online sweep.

Pokemon is the perfect candidate for an online launch since it has a strong and very large fan base and the type of play it offers does not rely on bandwidth. The only fear is that such a launch would risk alienating older gamers, although Nintendo would almost certainly offer some other titles as well.

The initial success enjoyed by both Microsoft's and Sony's online projects will almost certainly result in Nintendo following their rivals and diving into cyber gaming. It could be that Nintendo were just letting their rivals test the waters and are now ready to offer a similar product. Whatever the reasons for the delay, it is certain that Nintendo will give their rivals a good run for their money.