It’s no secret that the Nintendo Wii, since its very inception, was always trying to play catch up as far as the online gaming sphere was concerned. Not only did features like the friend code hinder gamers, but also the types of experiences offered via the Wii’s online services felt the least polished as compared to its competition.
Thankfully, Nintendo, as represented by Satoru Iwata, realizes the Wii’s shortcomings in the online market and vows to improve the experience with both the 3DS and the upcoming successor to the Wii.
Part of what Iwata states as the reason behind the Wii’s lack of success in the online community is the company’s own hubris. Never feeling the need to approach companies outside of their own, Nintendo tried to create an online experience that was as unique as the motion-controlled console they were developing. Unfortunately, that console could have done with some input from institutions with a little bit more experience as far as online gaming is concerned.
As Nintendo’s first real dedicated online console, the Wii took some risks most of which never paid off for the hardcore gamer. Sure, new features like friend codes helped those parents concerned about their kid’s online interactions feel safer, but its limitations far exceeded its benefits more specifically in the technical aspects of things. It was a simple case of Nintendo wanting to do things all by themselves that did them in, but Iwata acknowledges that and promises the company will not repeat its mistake.
“Wii’s future could have been different if Nintendo had made better partnerships with outside companies in the field of network services at the early stages of the penetration of Wii. In other words, Nintendo might have been a little obsessed with the policy ‘Jimae-shugi’ [doing thing’s by one’s bootstraps] at that time. Although we have already put ourselves back on track, we would like to clearly differentiate what is our true strength from what we can basically do by ourselves but can be done better by more skillful outside specialists in order not to fall into that trap again.”
Though the 3DS does feature friend codes, the application of a universal friend code has helped demonstrate Nintendo has learned their lesson. While early reports are hinting towards new revolutionary concepts for their upcoming Wii successor, Nintendo has been relatively mum about the online capabilities of the console.
If the Wii successor, currently code named Project CafÃ©, does want to blow the PS3 and Xbox 360 out of the water it needn’t do anything but offer a streamlined no nonsense experience. Gamers these days are all about ease of use (and after the PSN hack, security) so as long as Nintendo takes a few steps back from what they employed with the Wii, there should be a real winner in there, at least as far as the online is concerned.
What do you hope to see from the Wii’s successor in an online gaming experience? Would you like to see an evolution of the concepts introduced with the Wii or a complete renovation?