News Article

Talking Point: Miiverse and Social Networking

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Bringing gamers together

In the past week, two particular news items and events have made us think about the future role of Miiverse on Wii U, and why it could be vitally important to the system. On the one hand, Satoru Iwata spoke to Kotaku to explain that Miiverse will be a ”social graph” for gamers, highlighting that the service will aim to do more than merely provide a competent competitive multiplayer environment, but also bring single player experiences into a community of empathetic gamers. The other key event was our own Mario Kart 7 community race meet, advertised through an article on the site and through plenty of tweets on our Twitter page. As it showed, Mario Kart 7 may have some excellent means of bringing groups together and communicating, but still has plenty of limitations. It also demonstrated that the Nintendo Life community has some rather quick kart racers, and that it was too much fun to not do again.

How will Miiverse potentially change single and multiplayer interaction between gamers, first on Wii U and eventually 3DS? Let’s have a look from both perspectives, in terms of what we know and what we hope to see from the service.

It’s perhaps in the proposed single player use of Miiverse that any comparisons to social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook, become most relevant. Nintendo has already stated that it has no plans for Twitter and Facebook to connect to Miiverse or have Wii U apps, so these kind of experiences will need to be mimicked through its own service.

We know that Wii U will have friend lists, of course, and that Miiverse will inevitably offer ways to communicate with those friends. It's been evident from screens that there'll be private message options, though these exist on 3DS and also featured on Wii. Of more interest are demonstrations of messages through timelines, for example, that can be general and all-inclusive or game-specific. It's the idea of empathy, so often mentioned by Satoru Iwata, that is most prominent in the messaging service that will be accessible via the Home menu. The Miiverse message screen in the infamous ‘Non-Specific Action Figure’ pre-E3 demonstration showed Plaza interaction, which appears to allow the various Mii characters gathered around the virtual bubble of a game to read and post on a message board with strangers. Messages seemed to have voting buttons, one an equivalent to a ‘like’ and one showing the number of responses, so browsing adopts well-known social network ideas.

Nintendo has already stated that it has no plans for Twitter and Facebook to connect to Miiverse or have Wii U apps, so these kind of experiences will need to be mimicked through its own service.

This appears to work as an internal forum message board, in practice, but it’s the follow-up steps that take it from a simple message board to something more fitting for communications in 2012. After receiving a message, the demo showed the ability to video call another player – which we’ll assume is limited to those on a friends list, as is likely – using the camera on the Wii U GamePad. If all of this works well when in action, then it’s easy to see how taking on a tough puzzle, boss character or area could become an entirely new and dynamic experience, genuinely adding a social angle to playing games. It all depends on how quick and efficient Nintendo’s moderation of content is, with almost instant publication promised for messages that pass through an automated filter.

These features are perhaps most like Facebook, with some Twitter touches included. The most direct comparison to Twitter is probably in Mii speech bubbles, shown on the Wii U main screen when around game bubbles, and even within games. As these are short messages, either text or doodles, they more closely seem to resemble the Twitter habit of making a short statement to anyone who cares to read it, without necessarily expecting any kind of response. It’s possibly more fun than functional, and doesn’t seem to be in the same league as the messaging system for actual interaction between players in solo games.

As mentioned earlier, we revived one of the Nintendo Life community rooms in Mario Kart 7. To outline the positives, first of all, it’s a 3DS title that actually allows gamers to set up a tangible meeting place, set their own rules and play together without having to trade friend codes. Aside from the ‘connect to race mini-game’ that can often end in a communication error, it’s a nice touch, even if it’s disappointingly an exception on 3DS at this stage. In-game communication is also decent if simplistic, with set messages to exchange in the lobby – though it’d be nice if starting the race was a group decision, rather than the whim of one over-enthusiastic player.

On the flip-side, however, are the limitations of the setup and the desire of the community to interact with each other in a more substantial way. For one example, some of the Nintendo Life team were playing the game next to computers, switching away from their 3DS to check comments in the website’s article and post updates on Twitter. It was a constant act of race, check monitor, and then race again. It’s encouraging that, potentially, Miiverse will help to remove these limitations, certainly on Wii U and hopefully on 3DS if it arrives on the handheld with much of the proposed functionality. It’s also to be hoped that Nintendo’s efforts with Miiverse, in giving a social platform for its developers and third-parties to access directly, will also encourage greater use of voice chat. We’ve seen it in Heroes of Ruin on 3DS and the ill-fated Wii Speak accessory, but it’s an area that should become more common.

Nintendo may not like the idea of groups setting up private areas for gaming sessions, in fear of potential inappropriate content being shared, but it’s a feature that can add a lot to online multiplayer.

One thing that’s not clear, so far, is how much gamers will be able to set up their own groups and communities within Miiverse. It’s understandable that Nintendo is focusing on bringing lots of diverse people together in its demonstrations, but we’d like to see functionality that not only allows private messaging areas for friend lists, but also in-game areas in the style of the Mario Kart 7 community rooms. Whether that’s possible relies heavily, once again, on the effectiveness of automated moderating, as well as the willingness of developers to provide the functionality. Nintendo may not like the idea of groups setting up private areas for gaming sessions, in fear of potential inappropriate content being shared, but it’s a feature that can add a lot to online multiplayer. We had a lot of fun playing Mario Kart 7 with fellow Nintendo Lifers, so the prospect of doing that on a future Mario Kart U with voice chat, Twitter style bubble messages and message board discussions, all on one platform, would be almost too much fun.

So far, the principles and ideas behind Miiverse are exciting. When Satoru Iwata talks about creating a “social graph”, bringing gamers together whether in single or multiplayer, it sounds like an exciting evolution in how we play games and interact with others. We'd also say that what we've actually seen so far, assuming it all works and the promised 3DS and mobile device support come through, is very encouraging. There are still questions, however, and features that if included would truly enable the service to excel and become more than a rarely used extra function on the system.

Can Miiverse truly become a streamlined, fun and effective Nintendo gamer’s social network? We certainly hope so, and we look forward to finding out.

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User Comments (41)



Squashie said:

I am particularly looking forward to the ability to access the MiiVerse from Smartphones and PC. Otherwise, a great article!



Scollurio said:

Well to me it sounds awesome how you imagine it to work and I loved heroes of ruin (except its non replayability with added difficulty) and do still love Mario Kart 7 and yesterdays community race was awesome. I just fear that - again as so often with Nintendo - we might imagine it brighter and more awesome than it really will be. I hope I'll be proven wrong.



grimbldoo said:

I think this is a good step up. It can be a little more reliable than Twitter of Facebook and you are more likely to get the help that you want.



DeMoN-13ruce said:

Way better then the message system of sony now for sure they probaly mimic it but care.....

miiverse is a nice idea for nintendo gamers to unite!

edit: i'm not a fanboy i own both nintendo and sony game systems xbox not becuase i simply can't afford paying more^^



19Robb92 said:

I absolutely love the idea of Miiverse. Sounds awesome.I just hope they can pull it off and deliver a great social HUB for everyone.

Nintendo and online usually don't go hand in hand.. So I'm still very skeptical.



Chris720 said:

Miiverse looks like it'll work perfectly, but I'm hoping they'll stop people trolling and releasing spoilers all over the place - I know it'll most likely be moderated, but it's still a massive online community that will constantly need inspection. This is the one and only thing that really concerns me about Miiverse.



triforcepower73 said:

Miiverse will be awesome! Question, though. Anybody know what the U in wii U stands for. I never thought about it till now. I know what the wii's name was, but what does the U mean?



19Robb92 said:

It's suppose to be a synonym for "You". We/You = WiiU.

You can notice that the name and Miiverse go along quite well. As the slogan "Together we (Miiverse) & you [WiiU]"



TruenoGT said:

I'm hoping MiiVerse facilitates a "book club" like atmosphere for games to be shared and talked about. While web forums are nice, it would be great to have a unified place to share experiences with other gamers.



NintyMan said:

I think Miiverse will be exciting and cool and hopefully Nintendo implements it well. As long as it regulates cursing, trolling, and spoilers, then I think this will be great for everyone. The concept of Miiverse might not be new, but the fact that such a network will be on a Nintendo console for the first time is a good cause for anticipation. It'll be even better once the 3DS gets updated to run it.



sinalefa said:

In paper it sounds great. A nice thing is that they can update things in the future via patches or like Sony's firmwares, to correct Miiverse's mistakes and omissions. It is also nice that the gamepad itself works like a virtual keyboard, so no need for an extra USB keyboard next to you. Not to mention a microphone and a camera already built in.

Miiverse, if done right, has the potential to offer something unique that the others consoles can't do, besides the asymmetric gameplay. So if it is successful, we will be seeing their versions of it, as happened with motion controls.



rjejr said:

"ill-fated Wii Speak accessory"

I really think the Wii Speak should be integrated into the sensor bar for the WiiU. If you have a Wii Speak sitting on top of your sensor bar look at it and realize the sensor bar is two lights at each end and the entire middle is wasted space. Stick the mic in there and get rid of 1 wire. Companies would be much more likely to use it if it's built into the base system, peripherals never get any love.

I don't think Miiverse needs built in FB and Twitter. I use FB on occasion but I don't have my PS3 link turned on. I would like to see it linked to the 3DS w/ Miiverse "light" or whatever they want to call it. And it should work much better than Swapnote, which I still think should have been named "Billboard" b/c that is how it functions. My 2 sons can't "Swap" notes off line in their own house, or with their mother. Miiverse needs to have an instantaneous part for messaging, even if that part is limited to registered "friends". Looking forward to how this plays out, so much potential, but Nintendo rarely goes all out, they are always too busy playing it safe.



LavaTwilight said:

Did anyone else notice that the top picture of the forum doesn't make sense. If you read the messages they look as if they go from top to bottom, reading downwards with the top comment being the first one published, but if you look at the 'time' posted then the top comment was the last to be published. Anyone else find that odd or am I the only one?

Good article... I'm not much for social networking, can't stand the stuff, but this looks more 'specialised' than that. I'm looking forward to it.



EvansLegends said:

I'm cautiously optimistic towards Miiverse. It'll be tough, but I really hope Nintendo can create an environment that's safe, mature, insightful, and able to be taken seriously; I hope it's fun, but ultimately maintains a propriety.



nfzeta007 said:

@LavaTwilight This is actually how a few forums and such do their posts, just like how with twitter and facebook the last post is on top, it usually happens with the more ongoing message systems, where always seeing the last updated can be more convenient, of course it could also be a choice.



FluttershyGuy said:

I can't express my sheer joy that there are no plans for connectivity with Mugbook & Tweeter. I wouldn't want to lose it getting umpteen Farmvile requests while I'm playing New Super Mario Bros. U, and take a hammer to my Wii U.



FluttershyGuy said:

I can't express my sheer joy that there are no plans for connectivity with Mugbook & Tweeter. I wouldn't want to lose it getting umpteen Farmvile requests while I'm playing New Super Mario Bros. U, and take a hammer to my Wii U.



scrubbyscum999 said:

This all looks cool. Like what others have said, if they can keep trolls and spoilers away we should be good. I like the idea of a central hub for the Nintendo community. It would be nice to have a main place to just meet Nintendo fans.



DarkNinja9 said:

i agree with a few others in paper it all sounds good but the thing is someone always ruins it and idk i feel like we all might set our hopes high and in the end not get to much out of it D: but is nintendo does go all out or tries they can make this really interesting can you imagine playing a mario kart game and chatting with the other players or even after the race

only thing i see there will have a rly tough time with is trolls and spoilers -_- and forget being able to use fb and twitter we dont need it >.>



hYdeks said:

@PokeTune yay probably, but Nintendo has a history of pulling a miracle out of there butt All I can say is thank god there the kings of video games, cause alot of there decisions lately are just baffling to me. Personally, I think there going the right way with the Wii U, and I'm really hoping they learned from there mistakes from the Wii.



Token_Girl said:

I like how they're focusing on how the social/online aspect can help games, not trying to be or integrate into full social networking. I don't have people over after school or gaming sleepovers anymore, but if being able to connect with other people playing around the world over games on he miiverse can capture a bit of that fun of sharing games, I think it will be worthwhile.



c1pher_c0mplet said:

"Nintendo has already stated that it has no plans for Twitter and Facebook to connect to Miiverse or have Wii U apps..."

Good. I'm not against social networking (to each his own) but I'm sick of seeing the blue F and T everywhere. It's even gotten to the point where many sites require you to have a Facebook, Twitter, or whatever in order to interact with the community, which is ridiculous. However, I do LOVE what Nintendo's doing with Miiverse and their implementation of social networking. They don't need Facebook, Twitter, or anything because I believe their version of it (for gaming purposes obviously) will be better anyway.



McGruber said:

It sounds awesome, but the exclusion of Facebook and Twitter does seem a little off putting. I also think they will have to re-evaluate their stance on Apps, because Apps are here to stay. 3DS desperately needs more of them, and I think eventually Nintendo will come around.



StarDust4Ever said:

Say "NO" to Facebook and Twitter. I refused to sign up for Facebook because I do not agree with their privacy policy. If you're part of the 1% of the Internet that also refused to join the social media BS, more power to you!

That said, I am looking foreward to Nintendo's Miiverse, although I have this feeling that knowing Nintendo, they will ultimately figure out a way to gimp their service to make it more "kid friendly" and ruin it for the rest of us...



kdognumba1 said:

I'm definitely the most interested in learning about the Wii U's online and what its all about as the online is the area where Nintendo seems to struggle the most. If they could put to rest all concern about the systems online, I will be be super stoked.



SMW said:

@vonseux About MiiVerse killing NP. Thats actually a crazy idea I had! Here is my guess:
Nintendo may replace the magazines with something implemented into Wii U or MiiVerse? They already use FaceBook and Twitter for news, so I'm thinking we'll be getting Nintendo news straight from MiiVerse.

Also I am so glad that they are not partnering with any existing social media. That way nothing can hold back the potential that MiiVerse brings with it.



erv said:

The only thing that crossed my mind is how to find friends if that is really what you're depending on using miiverse on game help etc.

I would think it's the best for games to have a public timeline of messages and the ability to show answers clearly apart form 10000 helpme's, as well as easy connect options through miiplaza.

I am really excited for wiiU, in part because of this.



arrmixer said:

personally I understand everyone's doubts on Nintendo's hand in online/social network area... Nintendo has been on the bench thus far...
However, I feel nintendo's vision on how Mii verse should work will be fantastic and will probably be the killer app most customers are looking for... especially for parents...
I'm excited can't wait to see how this unfolds...



alLabouTandroiD said:

"we’d like to see functionality that not only allows private messaging areas for friend lists, but also in-game areas in the style of the Mario Kart 7 community rooms"
Amen to that. Who wouldn't like to have NL WarioWare leaderboards for all of its minigames.
Having 'em on your Wii U account instead of just in the game could make you want to play games again that you haven't even looked at for quite a while.
This is videogame communication. It needs to happen.

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