Gauging the vision of Nintendo is never easy, but it’s quite apparent the company sees social networking as a cog of next generation gaming – look no further than Miiverse, the online social integration platform being built into Nintendo Network, and set to launch with the Wii U this November.
Visible straight from the Wii U’s home interface, Miiverse displays the users friends as standing, living congregation of their avatars, also known as “Mii’s.” As we witnessed during E3 2012, the social activity generated by these Miis – be it text messages, achievements, photos, or status updates – appears overhead in a bubble in real time, and the aesthetic presentation serves as a platform for live text and video chatting. Ultimately, Nintendo wants allow access to Miiverse from any mobile device. But just how dramatic will Miiverse’s impact be? How vital will it be to the Wii U experience, not to mention its sales in the marketplace?
According to Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo America President and COO, Miiverse will be the Wii U’s “killer app,” a “key differentator” against its console competition. The unflappably optimistic executive told AllThingsD that it may not be apparent now, with over a month left to go before the Wii U’s release, but once gamers begin experiencing the system and building their social networks, Miiverse will change the way we think about Wii U:
“As the network grows and the installed base grows, it will prove to be a true killer application for the system, and I say this loving what we have done with Nintendo TVii and loving all the games.”
“Until you try it and experience it, you may not totally understand it.”
“People have to leave the current paradigm behind to understand what we are trying to do. Miiverse is going to be embedded right on the game platform, so literally some of the activity will be able to happen immediately as people experience it.”
With its clean-and-simple interface and the accessibility Nintendo seems to be designing Miiverse around, there’s no question it would be a social tool more extensive than gamers are used to having.
But then this is the perplexity behind anything the Wii U does: How will it stand the test of time after Microsoft unveils the next Xbox and Sony the PlayStation 4? Sure, neither Xbox Live or PlayStation Network is celebrated for efficacious social networking features; but with the modern ubiquity of the concept – one that, really, exploded just as the Xbox 360 and PS3 were entering the market – there’s no way a facelift isn’t in the next-gen pipeline. When it comes, how revolutionary, how “paradigm shifting,” will Miiverse seem then?
We know Miiverse will exist as its own social network – it won’t connect to Facebook or Twitter or Google+, etc. – so much of its success might also reside in the time gamers want to devote to another, separate online life.
Ranters, do you share Reggie Fils-Aime’s faith in Miiverse? Will you purchase the Wii U on the strength of its social interface?
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