News: Iwata confirms that Nintendo is moving to an account-based system

In today's Corporate Management Policy Briefing, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata commented on a number of topics.  One of which is something that was recently discussed in a "Scott's Thoughts"

In the briefing, Mr. Iwata commented on the limitations of the current system of being device based.
We only had device-based relationships with consumers in the past. As we were connected with a single consumer differently on different devices, we had some natural problems.

While we have tried to achieve, among other things, software-driven connectivity between handheld devices and consoles, handheld devices and consoles were in principle separated completely in terms of our ability to connect with our consumers.  In addition, we tried to encourage consumers to upgrade from an existing handheld device to a new handheld device, or from an existing console to a new console, by providing backward compatibility that enabled them to take their software assets from their existing system. However, we became disconnected with our consumers with the launch of each new device as we could only form device-based relationships. 
Mr. Iwata is spot on in this comment.  He recognized that backwards compatibility was important and Nintendo has included that feature in the most recent hardware launches.  However, because digital purchases were being tied to the device and not the consumer, they were losing their connection to the consumer when the next device was launched.

The answer is simple enough, just move to an account based system.  Iwata sees that as a good move and stated that in his briefing.
On Wii U, we launched Nintendo Network IDs, which are abbreviated as NNIDs. This is the first step of our efforts to transform customer relationship management from device-based to account-based, namely, consumer-based, through which we aim to establish long-term relationships with individual consumers, unaffected by the lifespans of our systems. Our future platform will connect with our consumers based on accounts, not devices.

We will manage our relationships with our consumers through NNIDs in a uniform manner, and connecting with our consumers through NNIDs will precisely be our new definition of a Nintendo platform.  In other words, our platform will not be bound to physical hardware and, instead, will be virtualized. 
 Mr. Iwata also provided some clarity to earlier statements regarding Nintendo looking into using smart devices.  Most people jumped on this as a sign that Mario, Link, and other fan favorites would make their way onto a phone or tablet.  Iwata repeatedly denied that happening.  Instead, Nintendo sees these devices as a way to connect with consumers that do not have a Nintendo system.
Taking advantage of smart devices means connecting with all consumers, including those who do not own Nintendo’s video game systems, through smart devices and communicating the value of our entertainment offerings, thus encouraging more people to participate in Nintendo platforms.
So it would seem that a Nintendo App could be made available to create and access a Nintendo Network ID.  The real question that I have is, why would someone without a Nintendo system want to?  If you didn't have a console or handheld device, would alerts to Nintendo Directs or other news really interest you?  If you weren't able to play a game, would posting about it in Miiverse be something you would spend your time on?  I'm not sure how this concept would play out, but for now we know that Nintendo is looking at smart devices as more for communication than entertainment.

Another interesting point that was mentioned was a flexible pricing structure that such an account based system would allow for.  Right now, John may have purchased a Wii U Deluxe system that came with Nintendoland.  Across the street Jim purchased the same system and over the year has purchased 11 more Wii U games.  Now May 2014 rolls around and Mario Kart 8 is released.  Both John and Jim will pay the exact amount for that game.  Iwata saw the account based system as a way to reward customers that have been purchasing games.
Until now it has been taken for granted that software is offered to users at the same price regardless of how many titles they purchase in a year, be it one, five or even ten titles. Based on our account system, if we can offer flexible price points to consumers who meet certain conditions, we can create a situation where these consumers can enjoy our software at cheaper price points when they purchase more. Here, we do not need to limit the condition to the number of software titles they purchase. Inviting friends to start playing a particular software title is also an example of a possible condition. If we can achieve such a sales mechanism, we can expect to increase the number of players per title, and the players will play our games with more friends.
I thought this was a good example of a Nintendo idea.  Something out of the box that showcases their trademark quality of being loyal to loyal consumers.  No specifics were offered regarding how much of a discount would be seen or how many titles would need to be purchased in order to receive a discount.  However, through use of Club Nintendo and a new account-based system, whether you decided to purchase the title from a retail store or from the eShop, the purchase can be recorded and credited.

Over all, I think these are some good ideas and are a move in the right direction.  But nothing is going to work unless there are quality games offered.  Having an account based system and a loyalty program in place will only do so much if a platform only offers one or two must have titles a year.  

What do you think of Nintendo moving to an account based system and rewarding players that support its systems?  Let us know in the comment section below.

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