Nintendo may not be ready to offer its online infrastructure to third party companies until 2008, the US head of Japanese developer SNK, Ben Herman, revealed to UK gaming site SponG.
Nintendo is still not letting Wii third-party publishers include online capabilities in their games and it doesn't look like they will during 2007. So the best chance they have at building an online presence appears to be what they're doing with Virtual Console.
If true, this information should come as a surprise. In early February, NOA president Fils-Aime clearly stated that 'Pokemon Battle Revolution' will be the first online game in the US. It being already available in Japan, a US release is imminent. And why should third party online titles not follow soon?
Of course, Pokemon is using game-specific codes just like the DS, which are theoretically unnecessary for regular online games (each Wii having a console-specific code, which the DS does not have). So I strongly expect following online games to do away with individual codes. And the implementation of such a system may indeed explain a significant delay between Pokemon and what I expect will be the proper online games to follow. In this sense, 2008 might be realistic, after all.
However, Reggie went on to note that online development kits were already in third party publishers' hands. So is there a contradiction between the SponG information and Fils-Aime's comments? Perhaps developers have the online kits but simply have not yet been given the green light by Nintendo to implement online functionality. Perhaps implementation simply takes the better part of a year. Those explanations are a bit of a stretch but they may reconcile the two statements.
Otherwise, one of the two sources must be wrong. The SponG interview, it should be noted, is riddled with spelling mistakes, drawing the authenticity of Herman's alleged words somewhat into question.
EDIT There have been two recent developments regarding this story. Firstly, NSider user Kezay has come across some information (via the NeoGAF forums) pointing to Sega releasing a Pachinko game for Wii that will feature both online and Mii support. It is also slated for release this year. So it seems that at least some third party developers have access to online kits, as Fils-Aime stated.
Secondly, IGN has been able to confirm that Pokemon Battle Revolution, the first online title for Wii, will be published June 25th (coincidentally that is my birthday).
With Pokemon Battle Revolution paving the way just four months from now, Wii gamers can expect the previously announced lot of online-enabled games (such as Mario Strikers and Battalion Wars) to follow shortly after.
Thanks to: MaxConsole