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Nintendo Taking "Massive Leap" with Wii U's Online Set-Up

Posted by Trevor Chan

PlayStation Network and Xbox Live might want to watch out

Nintendo might feel that it's finally starting to get the hang of digital storekeeping, but what about a console's online presence and functionality?

Speaking to Eurogamer, Nintendo marketing manager Rob Lowe explained the importance of having a strong online set-up now as opposed to having one back in 2006 when the company launched Wii:

I think that in a similar way that we waited until HD technology was almost ubiquitous before we went in there with an HD console, it's similar with the penetration of Wi-Fi... I think now almost every home has Wi-Fi or broadband. It's a universal truth that everybody is connected online and that wasn't the case when the Wii came out five years ago.

Citing the refined online set-up of 3DS as an indication of what Nintendo has planned with Wii U, the latter will hope to take things even further:

We can't talk about the details yet as Mr Iwata will announce those slightly later. But with the online of 3DS it's obviously a massive leap on from where we were with DSi and DSi XL. It's smooth, robust, it doesn't drop in and out... The friend code system has also been refined. It still exists but in the same way that you'd need to pair up with friends on PSN or Xbox live. Now it's much closer to that kind of online gaming experience than what it was before.

Acknowledging that Nintendo consoles ― as well as the games available for those consoles ― attract younger gamers, Rowe went on to say that protection for the user is important, as is the accessibility for the more "active and hardcore" consumer that wants to go online.

Rowe also reiterated what Nintendo president Satoru Iwata said last year, regarding Nintendo's dissatisfaction with its own online efforts:

With Wii U I think that we've already hinted that we're looking at getting people in that know and understand online gaming as it's something that perhaps we've struggled with in the past.

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User Comments (62)

NintyMan

#1

NintyMan said:

Well, it's time for Nintendo to show that they can flex their online muscle when they have to. Now that we do live in a world of HD and streaming online, Nintendo will get on board and show their own unique way. The eShop is a sign of Nintendo getting serious about improving their online systems, and now with the Wii U they will eliminate friend codes entirely and install a better online shop that will make the Wii Shop Channel look dull in comparison. For now, we should look at the eShop and imagine what such a feature would look like on a bigger scale!

pixelman

#2

pixelman said:

Oh my gosh Nintendo, don't cite the 3DS as a good online system until you lift the frickin' 20 character cap. And enable PM's. It's as barebones as you can get right now.

RaylaxStaff

#3

Raylax said:

"PlayStation Network and Xbox Live might want to watch out"

To capture the hilarious failure on video and upload to Youtube?

BedCommando

#4

BedCommando said:

I don't think Xbox Live has to watch out for anything right now, and the only thing the Playstation Network needs to watch out for is it's security.

Still, Nintendo making their online actually worthwhile, even if it's somewhat, is still a good thing.

Monkeh

#5

Monkeh said:

Don't really see how PlayStation Network and Xbox Live have to watch out? So far Nintendo has hardly confirmed anything concrete about their online support for the Wii-U, just that's it's 'of course' there and that we should take it for granted... eventhough Nintendo has only had some of the worst online support out there so far. I really hope they'll do well with their online support this time, but the fact they haven't said anything past that it'll be closer to PSN and XBL doesn't really get my hopes up.

Deviant_Mugen

#6

Deviant_Mugen said:

I could care less about online, but hopefully Nintendo gets it right with the Wii U, just so they can stifle all the whining...

WolfRamHeart

#7

WolfRamHeart said:

Ha, I'll believe it when I see it. Nintendo is way behind Microsoft and Sony in the online department right now. They have a lot of catching up to do.

MasterGraveheart

#8

MasterGraveheart said:

Here's hoping for a more "best of all worlds" offering. I know there aren't any achievement systems for 3DS, but how about the Wii U?

360 has Achievements.
PS3 has Trophies.
Wii U should have... medals! :D

brandonbwii

#9

brandonbwii said:

It's hard for me to get too excited about any online services offered by the Wii U until there are more online multilplayer games on 3DS.

kevohki

#10

kevohki said:

"It's a universal truth that everybody is connected online and that wasn't the case when the Wii came out five years ago."

Ummm, apparently this guy lived on a different planet five years ago.

komicturtle

#11

komicturtle said:

Wii U should have more than medals. WiiU should allow us to use points to purchase virtual items for our Mii or even in-game as Nintendo did with the 3DS Play Coins.

The Gamerscore on Xbox Live is kinda useless as it just sits there and build up. I wonder why Microsoft hasn't adopted the idea of using points as currency- in a similar way where in Club Nintendo, you spend your coins but that doesn't really affect your stand in achieving Gold or Platinum status.

Linkuini

#12

Linkuini said:

PSN should watch out for hackers and Xbox Live should watch out for gamers cutting their subscription fees in a tight economy. Honestly, Nintendo can take its time if I can continue to play their games without having to pay for service or getting my credit card info stolen. Just so I can take headshots from the kinds of griefers you tend to play with in online fps games. Nintendo has its priorities straight, as far as I'm concerned.

SilverBaretta

#14

SilverBaretta said:

We'll see. As long as the internet's airtight with it's security, though, (lookin' at you, PSN) the rest can come later.

WaveWarlock

#15

WaveWarlock said:

For the most part, i don't give a damn about Online. I never have. :p
And I certainly don't give a super damn about Achievement points either.

Rensch

#16

Rensch said:

We'll see. I hope they do it better this time around. From what I'm hearing so far, Nintendo is determined to do just that.

dizzy_boy

#17

dizzy_boy said:

atleast nintendo have acknowledged that there online presence is piss poor, and that it needs to be sorted.
i really hope for their sake they`ve listened to their user base and took on board what people are saying.
tbh, the online functionality is one area nintendo has got to put the effort into making it as user friendly as possible, and put a stop to their mindset of keeping things down to the bare minimum.

warioswoods

#18

warioswoods said:

I don't want the online experience to feel like I'm connecting to an enterprise IT infrastructure, which is how I feel with the other consoles. It's analogous to being forced to connect into MS Exchange for everything at the work place (or even MS SharePoint, gag me) when you could be simply managing calendars, messages, and docs in cleaner, more streamlined apps and then sharing them, only when needed, using all open formats and protocols.

I just want the online part of the console to be yet another toy: speedy and useful, but quirky, unexpected, and above all lightweight. It doesn't need accounts (and all the user tracking that goes with it), perpetual sign-in, or any of that complication.

I might be alone in that, but I actually would predict that a very significant part of the population (many of whom are in the Wii's target consumer base) does not want to deal with another big account infrastructure when buying a new entertainment device for the living room.

MF_MaxiMillion

#19

MF_MaxiMillion said:

Nintendo really gives theirselve way too much credit over their eShop and 3DS online functionality while both these two fail to entertain me so far.

raedjhn

#20

raedjhn said:

maybe nintendo online less features then the other
but common the xbox live a lot of lag. and some time server down with some games and u need to pay. i never try the PSN but i guess it can speak for him self after the hackers incidente
so really idk if more features or not at least i can play at peace :)

armoredghor

#22

armoredghor said:

I do think nintendo needs to create a new franchise with emphasis on online and graphics as well as gameplay but at the same time, still not everyone has strong wi-fi. Mine at home isn't even broadband and won't accept my 3DS so it's not "universal" but VERY close.

Hardy83

#23

Hardy83 said:

Better then PSN and XBLA? I doubt it. In fact I almost guarantee you it won't be as good.

As for protecting kids online, there's this thing no one uses called parental controls. Those controls can have options for online play no?
BAM done, don't need to make everyone suffer.
Now if people only USED parental controls.

Hardy83

#24

Hardy83 said:

@22 They don't need to make a new IP to show off online. Animal Crossing could be THE Nintendo game that shows they are in the times when it comes to online.
We all know it. It's just Nintendo that thinks the same game for over a decade with no improved online features is okay.

That and Pokemon.

Bankai

#25

Bankai said:

What a load of bollocks. Nintendo said exactly the same thing about the 3DS, and its online can't even come close to the PSP.

Nintendo simply does not have the resources to possibly pull its online service up to the standards of Sony or Microsoft.

Capt_N

#26

Capt_N said:

If Nintendo is serious about online:

1. They need to implement a system where they can update it, via software/firmware on our end(consumer console end), as well as on their end(Nintendo's end), so as to have the online hardware/software/firmware inside the WiiU @ least be able to be kept up to newer net standards, & functionality, as they arise. This would also be a good idea for Nintendo to be extremely versatile in regards to how the WiiU can access the internet, such as for example: hard-wired into a local home network, or the console could have internet transceivers connected to it via usb(you could just go out, & buy newer ones when they come out), so the console would always be able to change, & keep up somehow w/ faster home network speeds, & protocols.

2. Make their online services not so dependent on broadband alone, but a variety of internet access options too, such as dial-up, etc.

3. Nintendo needs to, or @ least should make the console so it can go online, but doesn't have to. Including system updates on Wii games was brilliant in the sense that those that didn't have internet access could still get console updates.

4. Is Nintendo going to implement the Wii's online? They should make an update for the Wii that addresses being able to move game saves that go w/ games that had online. Remember, Wii can't move online game saves, w/o tampering w/ the Wii's os code.

5. There were some other things, but I forgot....

Bankai

#27

Bankai said:

@18

The Wii's online install base is something like 10-20 per cent. Most everyone never bothered to take the Wii online.

So you're right to say "I might be alone in that, but I actually would predict that a very significant part of the population (many of whom are in the Wii's target consumer base) does not want to deal with another big account infrastructure when buying a new entertainment device for the living room." But that just means they don't want to connect at all. The percentage of people who do want to connect, but then want an inferior service would be too low to be worth considering, I'd wager.

Chris720

#28

Chris720 said:

The eShop is pretty amazing compared to the Wii Shop and DSi Shop, the 3DS functionatily could be a lot better. At the moment, the 3DS works great for online functionaitly, however, there are some things that need upgrading, for example, the staus messages are too short, there aren't any PMs or even a way to invite friends to join a lobby in a game. I just hope it future updates for the 3DS Ninty will add these.

Bankai

#29

Bankai said:

The eShop is clunky. Icons are too big, lists of content are annoying to cycle through, and you have to wade through menu after menu to reach videos/ user reviews.

Everything you can do on the eShop, you can do in 2-3 less steps on competitive platforms. If Nintendo thinks that's going to compete against the Vita and the assumed upgrades Sony will bring to the PSN, then it's deluding itself.

Still, most of that would be fixable with firmware updates, so hopefully Nintendo wakes up.

Waxedfloss76

#30

Waxedfloss76 said:

online multiplayer sports games would be great. i game alone most times and have been tempted to buy an xbox or ps3 for online. 3ds has alot more trailers to download..ssf4 shows off cool online...need more online 3ds games please nintendo....3ds.which is sweet...needs flashplayer though.
wii u looks sweet as well but needs 2 ipadish controllers maybe. i hope nintendo for best. glad i didnt get ps3. 3DS is swweet.

PSICOffee

#31

PSICOffee said:

Rob Lowe!?! Certainly not the actor! :p

I can finally see and understand why they held off on HD from the POV he's speaking. I have faith (surprisingly) Nintendo will smooth everything out in the future.

danschemen

#32

danschemen said:

just wondering but when we play the wii games on the wii u. will they have the better online stuff or will it be just like wii's crappy online service

y2josh

#34

y2josh said:

I don't know who comes up with the tag lines, but seriously? Reggie said last Monday they would announce what the online was going to be like later last week, yet they are still saving that for a later time. I hope it is as good as 360/PS3, but I HIGHLY doubt it.

TKOWL

#35

TKOWL said:

Well, they're getting rid of Friend Codes, so it's already way better.

LordChimpington

#38

LordChimpington said:

I think their online has majorly improved and I believed it will get way better as time goes on. I think they will have great online games for both 3ds and wii U and i think their stores and whatever else is online will be great you just gotta be patient.
I like the eshop right now but I can't wait until more titles get put on there.

CerealKiller062

#39

CerealKiller062 said:

@7
IDK about Really, Really, Really behind but they are a little off. Achievments for me are a bunch of worthless icons. I mean none of my buds walk up to me and say "Hay, I saw you got that (Achievement/Trophy) on (Xbox/Playstation)" And I am really one of those who really doesn't care what their friends are playing at that instant. Yes the friend codes are annoying, but so is having to pay every 3 months or yearly for a service that should be free. That is just my opinion.

rjejr

#40

rjejr said:

To make up for the Vita price they need to come out and announce X game chat ASAP.

Seriously, it has to improve. My crappy Cablevision set-top-box has better online connectivity (playing house to house in Bejeweled 2 w/o codes.)

Ren

#41

Ren said:

This is what I don't like about their approach to some things. Where did this idea come from that the e-shop is such a fixed perfect experience? Who is giving this feedback? Most of us can say "yeah, I guess it's ok", but it is not up to par with ANY of the other services out there.
For game design it works just fine to ignore the feedback, because they are simply the best; You don't question design and creative choices of Miyamoto. But for web useability and design you can't just fix what's waaay broken and call it a giant, competitive leap forward. Why not actually lead the way instead of waiting to see what the standard is?
They prefer to lead the way with innovation and interactive gaming so why sit back and wait for sony and Microsoft to lead the Way with HD and online game content. That's what he's saying they'd prefer to do.

Kid_A

#42

Kid_A said:

@warioswoods
I agree. I think the 3DS shop is a good example of this; it's just as functional as the App store, but it has a more quirky, Nintendo feel to it. Online gaming still feels very strange and impersonal to me. Nintendo needs to find a way to make it more fun, personal and...well, Nintendo-y.

Bankai

#43

Bankai said:

@43 on what planet is the 3DS shop as functional as the App store? If there was a million+ apps on that thing I'm pretty sure it would literally blow up.

The only reason (and I do mean only) it's working right now is because there isn't much Virtual Console/ 3DSware content on it. Having tried to wade through DSiWare on the eShop I can immediately see where Nintendo's going to run into some problems in six months or so.

Of course, it is possible Nintendo will fix the service by then. I have my fingers crossed that will happen, because there's a lot of potential in there.

warioswoods

#44

warioswoods said:

@WaltzElf

"The percentage of people who do want to connect, but then want an inferior service would be too low to be worth considering, I'd wager"

Perhaps, but "inferior" doesn't mean the same thing to everyone. I'd argue that something like the App Store is far closer to what Nintendo should do with its online than are PSN and Xbox Live... which means less emphasis on creating an account or online identity and more on just throwing on a little credit — likely purchased on a card at the store — then grabbing a few titles that appeal to you.

Now, that's still not Nintendo-y enough, as Kid A was saying, so I'd suggest something far quirkier and more whimsical than the App Store interface (and the 3DS eShop is certainly a good start) but the point is that the online models of the competing gaming systems may not be the direction Nintendo should go. Many of us don't want yet another online identity or network, we just want to browse around for some fun games and then easily install them, without any complication whatsoever, and without taking the focus off of local social gaming.

Bankai

#45

Bankai said:

@46 I agree with you in part. I don't actually think Nintendo necessarily should copy Sony or Microsoft wholesale - I've said that in jest/ sarcasm in the past, but a good company needs to differentiate itself rather than just copy.

But, Nintendo needs to provide a service that is just as good as the competition while being different. And the reality is, it doesn't. The eShop is not as easy to use as the App Store, let alone the PSN or XBL. It's a clunky mess of an interface. Being better than DSiWare is like saying eating raw pork is better than eating raw chicken: you're still not in for a good time.

I understand Nintendo isn't big on online identities, and that's ok, but it still needs to offer basic functionality. Having a hermit of a console that can't even message people you're gone to the effort to add to your friends list is an embarrassingly-backwards attitude from a company that should remember it's the "innovative" one in the games industry.

OranJezz

#46

OranJezz said:

Nintendo, offer some form of messenging on my 3ds. Then we can talk about Wii U.

rwq

#47

rwq said:

We don't even know what online will look like when wii u comes out, Nintendo should really consider getting an outside partner to help them with this. My dream scenario is that i can buy all my games online and download everything. Never having to mess with optical media ever. Basically steam is doing it right, license a version of steam!

---BEGIN WIIU FRIEND CODE---

CEampaE0Uy6IoPgbutBWDu6xVjYxxOliHs0... [We get the point - mod team]

---END WIIU FRIEND CODE ---

armoredghor

#48

armoredghor said:

@WaltzElf it still looks like the same menu I see on my 360. I still hate that interface but they're the exact same thing-you can only see one item and the corners of two others. Neither are that good so just don't put it as the absolute worst.

SwerdMurd

#49

SwerdMurd said:

i'll believe it when i see it. 3DS's crappy low framerate barebones eshop and that "browser" do not give me much confidence.

JimLad

#50

JimLad said:

At the very least, release a first party headset so the third parties can use voice chat in their games. Don't even think about using the mic on the controller, we don't want Wii Speak 2.

iPruch

#51

iPruch said:

I want a chat-with-friends system for 3DS, something like the Steam's friend system. And the same for Wii U.

LoopyLuigi

#52

LoopyLuigi said:

Hey, Nintendo. Make Miis better. They look very last-gen. Something like characters from Harvest Moon or Go Vacation or, dare I say, coughxboxavatarscough would be a GRAND improvement.

Darel18

#53

Darel18 said:

Give us a message system, invite others players system, no lag smash bros., demos and we will be happy =D

One code/name per user, not per game, and watch your friend's status (offline, online playing/watching something) is surely happening (3DS) so I'm already good with that.

jerryo

#54

jerryo said:

"Massive Leap" compared to wii and ds? or compared to xbox live?

3DS already has some pretty cool online functionality. DoA is a very good example of taking advantage of 3DS online features they are doing some pretty cool stuff. But Nintendo has not yet convinced me that they understand what it takes to be successfully online. i.e. the browser is pathetic. Street fighter had slight lag issues and so does DoA.

Rapadash6

#55

Rapadash6 said:

Those expecting much more than Nintendo is doing now are really only setting themselves up for disappointment. Nintendo isn't just suddenly going to roll out the perfect online structure. I think an accurate assessment will be that it'll be slightly improved from what the 3DS set up is right now. Oh, and friend codes, albeit now a single one, are here to stay unfortunately.

Crunc

#56

Crunc said:

If it's like the 3DS, then they can hang it up. Per-console friend codes? Friend codes in the first place? Yeah, that's as easy to remember and give to someone, and for them to remember as, say, a username. Please tell me that Nintendo does not see the 3DS's approach as the answer.

melechofsin

#57

melechofsin said:

What's so good about the App store? I have an Ipad and I don't like it all. From what I've seen, the 3DS eshop interface is beautiful. The whole dual screen is so cool, browsing at the bottom screen, and seeing trailers and stuff on the top screen? I love that. That feature of seeing trailers, videos, is available in the Wii for EVERY game, but it's hidden in a way... most people probably don't know about it. Anyway, looks great so far.

Bassman_Q

#58

Bassman_Q said:

So... basically Ninty is playing catch-up? Not only HD but with their online? They're not gonna bother to make it better than PSN and XBL but just try to make it "similar"? That sounds incredibly stupid to me.

And they're excuse for not having a good online store from the beginning is even more stupid imo. Just because not everyone had access to wifi doesn't mean that they should've let the online store suffer from being barebones.

JustanotherGamer

#61

JustanotherGamer said:

This is one of the key areas Nintnedo needs to do well in. On-line gaming and assorted features. If Nintendo can at least have a decent on-line service the Wii U will do fine.

ZNemerald

#62

ZNemerald said:

@59

Nintendo aims to be affordable but yet fun and enjoyable. Sony and Micro aims to go all the way with hardware and features without caring for the prices. Nobody is playing catch up. They all have their own marketing styles.

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