Alternate History


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Nintendo's current online service, Nintendo Network, is not the greatest, to say the least. A lack of achievements, a lack of system-wide, (as opposed to game-specific,) voice chat, removal of any form of internet-based personal messaging from the 3DS like Swapnote, the horrible friend code system that the 3DS still relies on despite the addition of Nintendo Network IDs and Miiverse, (the 3DS Miiverse not being the greatest place to find people to play online with, which I would consider one of its main advantages on the Wii U, since sharing friend codes on Miiverse is banned and even if you friended someone on Wii U Miiverse, the 3DS does not share the friends list with the Wii U as the friends list is tied to the console, not the account, which is another problem,) only being able to log in to your account on a single 3DS and a single Wii U, and having to go through a bunch of hoops to have your account transferred to a new 3DS or Wii U if you already had your account on another one of the consoles you're trying to transfer to, but your previous one broke, etc. It's sad, really, because they have made many attempts, (most of them only in Japan,) to break into online gaming before the advent of Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, with such examples as the Sattelaview's service, the 64DD's Randnet service, the Mobile System GB, whatever service the Gamecube modem that was compatible with Phantasy Star Online along with a few other games used, etc.

Of course, it all began with the Famicom Network System. It was a modem for the Japanese Famicom, and could be used for such things as trading stocks, airline ticketing, banking, shopping, reading movie and game reviews, (the database containing information and reviews on Famicom games being accessed through the Super Mario Club service,) etc. While it never really took off, what seems interesting to me is how far Hiroshi Yamauchi wanted to take this. According to the book, "Game Over," by David Sheff, Yamauchi wanted Nintendo to, "no longer be a toy company; it would grow to be a communications corporation, among the ranks of Japan's largest company, Nippon Telephone and Telegraph (NTT.)"

Wow. Not just was Nintendo, the company that has in more recent times struggled to get a foothold in the online space when numerous corporations have already done so, trying to tackle online gaming early on, but they were trying to have games simply be a bridge into making network services be the core function of their business. David Sheff continued to write, "Yamauchi saw that the video-game business in Japan was huge but not unlimited, partly because there were only so many households (with kids) that were potential customers. Communications was a bigger industry, virtually limitless. Other companies had sought to hook up households via telephone line and computers, including NTT, but none had what Nintendo had: computers sitting in one third of the country's homes. If Yamauchi succeeded in connecting a small percentage of the Nintendo households, it would be -- instantly -- the largest such network in Japan. Games, Nintendo's stock in trade, were only the door in."

This article on states, "Nintendo had a true 'Trojan Horse' on its hands. Nintendo's goal was to provide or license business and other services on its Family Computer Network. Nintendo essentially had 'control' over everything - a position that gave it the ability to not only charge users for using the online service but also charge those businesses that wanted to provide product and information on the network. Had this network caught on, Nintendo would have gained its video game monopoly times two. Nintendo would have become a dictator of content."

Of course, we all know Nintendo's network did not catch on and a couple of years later the internet would start becoming huge. But, what if things had been different? What if a network, that was completely under the control of the Big N, started being something that a lot of people the world over were using? How would this have affected PCs and the internet? How different would Nintendo's approach to network connectivity be today as a result of it?

That's what I want people to try to figure out.

Point of divergence

The Famicom Network System becomes a wild hit, prompting a launch of the service in North America. The Nintendo Fun Club Newsletter is relaunched in an online format as the Super Mario Club Newsletter, (as opposed to Nintendo Power,) and its embrace of online formats from the start has allowed the magazine to thrive to this day. Soon, Famicoms/NES' are being distributed officially in more countries than OTL, and the infrastructure for the Famicom/NES Network is being expanded on to connect all of those countries together, all under Nintendo's control. Meanwhile, the internet ... Well, I can't really decide at the moment if there should be such a thing as, "The Network Wars," or if the internet should just not reach the global span it has achieved OTL. Anyways, Nintendo renames themselves, "Nintelco," after they start focusing more of their energy on communications rather than simply games. Nintendo's complete control over this network is considered to be a serious affront to people's online freedom, as one company controlling a network this large can never be a good thing. Also, would Nintendo have been able to get away with having this network being restricted to their platforms forever, or would they have been pressured into making it compatible with other operating systems on different types of computers?  Even if they were being pressured, would they be such a mammoth corporation that they could just ignore it?  Would the legal system get involved at all?

This is my first attempt at an alt history, and maybe I've made a bunch of stupid mistakes; maybe this whole idea was stupid. I dunno. Still, though, if this wiki could help me think of some more stuff to either add or remove, I would greatly appreciate it. (If this blurb is one of the things anyone wants me to remove, just tell me please.)

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