Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Thoughts on Wii Pay and Play

Make sure to check the post below this for a huge announcement!

See that little image up there? That's the logo for Wii Pay and Play, a new service recently introduced to Wii owners. Basically, using Wii Pay and Play, players can enhance their gaming experiences by paying Wii Points in exchange for additional features. This holds some great potential for sure. Sadly, it hasn't yet come anywhere near to utilizing this new ability to it's fullest extent.

As of now, one title supports Pay and Play: Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King. The extent of it's Pay and Play support? Purchasing additional dungeons, races, buildings and clothes. The dungeons help extent the life of the product, and the new clothes are kinda fun to check out. The buildings and races, however, don't add to the experience so much as they act as purchasable advantages.

Allow me to explain. As of now, there exist two new buildings for download: A huge house and a temple. The huge house, as you would assume, supports more citizens than any other building, thusly earning a higher number of taxes and more thoroughly lining the king's pockets. As for the temple, the king can pray to it to enhance the stats of all adventurers in the fields.

The new races are also advantageous. Every time the king recruits an adventurer from one of the three downloadable races, their class is pre-determined, and their stats perfectly conditioned to the needs of that particular class. And... That's it.

Each of these downloads requires the player to clear a special dungeon before the new features can be used. This adds to the length of the game. However, everything else about these downloads is nothing but a payed advantage. It's almost as if Square-Enix is saying "Hey, pay us more, and we'll make the game easier!". Kind of unfair, and hardly good use of Pay to Play's potential.

Look at all those great Massively Multiplayer Online games (MMOs) out there. For example, World of Warcraft. In addition to buying the game, players also have to pay a subscription fee in order to support the Blizzard and allow them to keep the servers running. Now, why can't the same be done with a Wii game*? We buy the game and, using Pay and Play, pay for the online experience as we go. And that's about all there is to it. Why can't Pay to Play be used for something like this?

*Yes, I understand that in order for the Wii to have an MMO, it would need additional memory in the form of a hard drive. But, for the sake of argument, let's pretend that such a peripheral exists, okay? It's sure to happen sooner or later, anyway.

On a less grandiose scale, lets look at the deplorable state of Super Smash Bros. Brawl online play. Would you be willing to pay a few bucks a month if it meant Nintendo would make this more reliable? Personally, I'd be all over it. This would be a perfect way to take advantage of Pay to Play.

And what of Animal Crossing Wii, the yet-to-be-formally-announced wonder of online interaction? Looking at how Wii online has been so far, the original hintings of visiting friends while they're not even playing seem like nothing but a dream. But, with the announcement of Pay and Play, these dreams started to look more like reality. Perhaps, with our digitized money flowing through their fingers, Nintendo would consider enabling these features to those paying the bills. They could have a special dedicated server for this sort of thing, giving players the once-impossible ability to visit their pal's town when their friend isn't even playing at the moment. The other player's town data could be temporarily downloaded to a server, and the visitor would interact with it as if it were running on an actual Wii. And then, if the other player does go online while someone is visiting their town, they could jump right on in, running about in the server-based duplicate of their town. It would be their Wii Points keeping this going, thusly adding to, enhancing and lengthening the experience, just like Pay to Play should.

But, I don't really know much about how this kind of thing works. For all I know, this is entirely impossible or terribly impractical. If anyone out there does have a handle on this sort of thing, please do give me your thoughts on it in the comments section. Still, even if it isn't possible, I'll be damned if it isn't a cool idea!

You could also tell me about the feasibility on the forum thread for this article (Non-technological geniuses are also welcome!)

The Duck Has Spoken.

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