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GDC08: Wi-Fi good news, bad news

Candace Savino

Here's the good news:

Nintendo project leader Takashi Aoyama recently announced that Wii games would soon feature downloadable content. If you're unfamiliar with this service (which is currently prevalent in the other current-gen systems, the PS3 and Xbox 360), this means that you'll be able to download additional content for your games via Wi-Fi.

There's no word on what games will offer DLC (though we can make guesses on a few that will and won't), nor have we heard about potential memory limitations with the inclusion of this service. Add-ons will be available for both Wii Ware titles and disc-based games, though.

As per usual, Wii owners will be able to purchase such content with Wii Points or a credit card.

Now, are you ready for the bad news?

According to Nintendo, not all Wi-Fi services will be free on the Wii. The company is introducing a "Pay and Play" policy, which will make players subscribe to a specific game in order to use that game's online features.

Titles that implement this policy will have a red "Pay and Play" circle instead of the blue "Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection" one that we're used to seeing. Aoyama didn't specify which games would make users pay-to-play, nor did he reveal how much the services would cost.

Now, we could understand Nintendo charging for online services if they were up to snuff with the offerings of its competitors. It's no secret, though, that the company currently falls behind its current-gen counterparts in regards to online play. PSN (the PS3's online network) is still free for gamers, and although XBL requires a monthly subscription, it can't be argued that Microsoft's service is miles ahead of the Wii's.

Perhaps the cost will be minimal, or perhaps most publishers will decide to keep their services free (if the decision is up to them, that is). Let's just hope this doesn't happen with the DS, too.

*Note: Since Nintendo has been vague on "Pay and Play" details, it's not exactly clear what services will require users to cough up cash. We'll keep you posted as we hear more.

Read: Nintendo Will Begin Offering Downloadable Add-On Content on Wii
Read: Nintendo to Begin Charging Money for Some Online Gaming

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