Next generation console will allow third party publishers to host their own digital services, company claims

Wii U ‘will be open to networks like Steam’

The successor to the Wii will have a fragmented online offering where publishers can host their own networks, Nintendo boss Reggie Fils-Aime has said.

The Nintendo of America president claimed Nintendo won’t ape Microsoft and Sony’s approach of having one ubiquitous network, opting instead for a system that allows third-party publishers to host their own platforms online.

“For Wii U… what we’re doing is creating a much more flexible system that will allow the best approaches by independent publishers to come to bear,” Fils-Aime said in an interview with Forbes.

“So instead of a situation where a publisher has their own network and wants that to be the predominant platform, and having arguments with platform holders, we’re going to welcome that. We’re going to welcome that from the best and the brightest of the third party publishers.”

Develop has heard speculation from connected sources that Steam will be available on Nintendo’s next home console – these rumours have not been validated.

However Fils-Aime offered the biggest hint yet that services such as Steam would be possible to run on the Wii U’s online network.

Nintendo has hitherto been reluctant to describe the Wii U’s online service – a crucial component to the console that, for many, will be a clear indicator of how far the company has progressed in the networked age.

The Tokyo-based firm has historically offered relatively uncompetitive online services. Third-party indie developers often rue the Wii’s prohibitive data size restraints, as well as the royalty policy for external developers.

Nintendo has made it clear it wants to resolve concerns regarding its online services, though it is not known if the Wii U will include a sizable hard drive – a crucial component for hosting online games.

“We’ve said that the Wii U will have an extremely robust online experience,” Fils-Aime said.

“There will be other publishers talking about that as well, and from our perspective, we think it’s much more compelling for that information to come from the publishers than to come from us,” he added.

“We’ve seen what our competitors have done, and we’ve acknowledged that we need to do more online, starting with the launch of our eShop on Nintendo 3DS, and we’re going to continue to build our online capability.”

Wii U is due for release 2012.

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