Nintendo’s decline over the last decade or so has already been widely discussed and reported on, so I won’t go into too much detail, but the gist of it is that the company simply hasn’t been able to adapt to the modern gaming market. While companies like Microsoft, Sony, and Valve were completely changing the way we play video games, Nintendo was just rehashing the things that had worked for it in the past, rather than evolving. This is especially apparent in how Nintendo has approached digital distribution and online services. Fortunately, it looks like the company has finally started to understand what modern gamers want, and for evidence of this, you need look no further than the Nintendo Account, a new type of account that will may finally be able to match the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live.
Nintendo announced as part of an investor briefing today that they will introduce a new account system: the Nintendo Account. The Nintendo Account will connect smartphones, PCs, and Nintendo hardware and can be made via Twitter, Google Plus, Facebook, Nintendo Network ID or e-mail address. What all the accounts will do is unclear, but Nintendo has promised a number of benefits right out of the gate. Character and game data will be stored in the cloud, as will friend lists. Nintendo’s replacement for Club Nintendo will also go through this account, allowing you to earn points for game purchases and gameplay. There are some more nebulous benefits as well, such as potential for free stuff and discounts through Nintendo as well as member benefits at places like theme parks and movie theaters. These benefits will likely be something Japan-specific and not something we see come over here in any meaningful way. The biggest point we’re waiting to hear more about is whether purchases will be linked to this account rather than the system they’re bought on. This has long been one of the biggest complaints about Nintendo systems. If your 3DS is stolen, hit by lightning, or used to stop a bullet, getting your digital games off it can be an incredibly painful experience if it’s even possible at all, and linking game purchases to the account instead would mark a huge change for Nintendo. Unifying friend lists across systems will be a huge step forward for multiplayer gaming on Nintendo platforms as well if they handle it correctly.