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Who the hell is actually running the Wii U's online network? Nintendo? Third-parties? ANYONE?

On the one hand, we know that the Wii U's online network is definitely going to be better than the Wii's. The reason? Four words. "Friend Codes. Lack of." A proper unified Gamertag-style system is going to work wonders in getting it taken seriously as a hardcore online machine.

On the other hand though, it sounds increasingly like the Wii U's online connectivity is currently a vague, messy unfocused heap of confusion, and potentially even worse than the old Friend Code debacle. You see it sounds like no-one really seems to know who's actually in charge of it right now, or how the player will be expected to interact with it. Or at least no-one's saying. Nintendo is giving the impression of being comparatively hands-off, and no-one else is giving the impression of being particularly hands-on. So how the hell is this thing going to work, why is no-one claiming responsibility, and how much more could it damage Nintendo's already crappy online reputation? 

Nintendo's stance, first mentioned at E3 and reiterated yesterday, is that it is creating - in comparison to the 3DS' online functionality - "a much more flexible system that will allow the best approaches by independent publishers to come to bear"

Hmmm. Certainly sounds like a buck-pass to me. So what's Nintendo's reasoning? Well according to Reggie, "...instead of a situation where a publisher has their own network and wants that to be the predominant platform, and having arguments with platform holders, we’re going to welcome that. We’re going to welcome that from the best and the brightest of the third party publishers".

So to translate, going off Reggie's comments, it sounds like where we currently have a situation on the other two HD consoles where XBL and PSN are the de facto, unified systems, and individial games are occasionally plagued by irrelevent, unnecessary, arbitrary additional network services run by third-party publishers (I'm looking at you, EA and Ubisoft), on the Wii U the online system is going to be run predominantly by those arbitrary networks, or at least heavily subsidised by them. Suddenly John Riccitiello's appearance at Nintendo's E3 press conference has a slightly more ominous context.

 
Above: Seriously, no-one wants that shit

And I see that as a big problem, unsurprisingly. Because there's no point getting rid of the hassle of Friend Codes if you're going to make people use four or five different log-ins for tertiary online systems. And what about publishers without networks? Are they going to have to sign deals with those who do in order to get an online infrastructure up and running? How much support will Nintendo's core network provide anyway?

Frankly, it sounds like no-one really knows at the moment. When asked for details, Nintendo is saying "we think it’s much more compelling for that information to come from the publishers than to come from us", which sounds likea  definite avoidance tactic. But at E3, all Ubisoft could disclose in regards to Ghost Recon was a wish-list of online features which may or may not appear. Whether Nintendo is being unclear to third-parties as to what it will provide, whether third-parties are currently still trying to work out what they can provide themselves, or whether no-one really knows what is going on, I can now detect the smell of another Nintendo online clusterf*ck in the air. I could be wrong. I hope I'm wrong. But with so little focus and so few details openly discussed from either side of the Wii U's online equation, this one certainly has a disturbing whiff about it.

What do you reckon?

July 06, 2011

Topics

Nintendo

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22 comments

  • jmcgrotty - July 7, 2011 8:08 a.m.

    ParanoidAndroid, BigKingBud just likes to look for attention doing that. Do what everyone else does and just ignore him/her. That format actually makes it easier to know not to bother even starting to read the comment.
  • jmcgrotty - July 7, 2011 8:04 a.m.

    The new network system will be called Friends U, shortened as F.U. and will end up just being what Nintendo says to all their supporters who want a good online experience. F.U. On another note, who cares what type of network they have in place? No one will be using it anyway, so no one will ever know what type they do or don't have.
  • Yeager1122 - July 7, 2011 5:13 a.m.

    I already have a system that plays online and does it fine so even if they did a great job i woulf have no need for it.
  • rainmanruss - July 7, 2011 4:19 a.m.

    I hope Gabe Newell is reading this.
  • lumclaw - July 7, 2011 4 a.m.

    Isn't this just what the PS2 already did? I'm not seeing any difference here. Letting every dev have their own netcode and user account system could be very annoying...
  • yagirlfriendsfavoriterapper - July 6, 2011 10:15 p.m.

    @db1331 Sorry but I have to disagree, I am a core Wii gamer who will buy Wii U.
  • yagirlfriendsfavoriterapper - July 6, 2011 10:13 p.m.

    LOL DH is a Negative Nancy. Wii U's online sounds like Sony's "open-platform " for PSN, not bad if U ask me.
  • MySistersMenstruationTastesFunny - July 6, 2011 5:03 p.m.

    @ParanoidAndroid --No --He's --A fucking idiot. And I don't know about the smell of a clusterfuck, but I definitely smell a clustershart.
  • cyanidegold - July 6, 2011 4:12 p.m.

    They should just ask Valve to take care of it.
  • db1331 - July 6, 2011 2:43 p.m.

    Nobody was more excited to see the reveal of the new console at E3 than I was. The promise of a return to the hardcore seemed almost too good to be true. Then, as soon as Iwata said the console would be for casual AND hardcore players, I knew that it was. Then the announcement of the name literally caused me physical pain. Now, even as a Nintendo fanboy, I have zero interest in buying their next console. The bottom line is there is nothing about the Wii U that is for hardcore gamers. Sure, it's absolutely great that Nintendo is finally getting hardcore 3rd party titles like Arkham City and Darksiders 2. The only thing is, hardcore gamers already have 1, 2, maybe even 3 systems that can play those same games, months sooner and without an awkward and gimmicky control scheme. And the casual players who buy the Wii U aren't going to be the least bit interested about GTA V or Darksiders 2. What Nintendo should have done was keep the Wii for the casuals and make the new system strictly for core gamers, with no waggle or gyroscope gimmickry.
  • Bravo315 - July 6, 2011 2:04 p.m.

    Being honest, I don't mind uPlay. In fact, I like it. For one, it stops people that hate trophies and achivements complaining about getting nothing from them. Completely agree about EA's servers though and it will be interesting to see how they integrate Origin etc.
  • ParanoidAndroid - July 6, 2011 1:24 p.m.

    @BigKingBud What are you? The Riddler?
  • RedOutlive10 - July 6, 2011 1:08 p.m.

    Nintendo better give the Wii U a robust online system, because graphics alone won't do much if the system is still behind the 360/PS3 in online capabilities, as some successful titles are mostly focused on multiplayer (like the next Call of Duty game), not to mention online coop and so on.
  • shawksta - July 6, 2011 12:54 p.m.

    While we should speculate and its hard to be patient, Just be patient David, so far the 3DS's Online is already better than both wii and ds with its One-time-only friend code set with friends so we could be looking at something more. To be honest, I want something Simple and effective, and not too hard, Making it like XBL and PSN would work but we already know nintendo doesnt wanna put TOO MUCH on the online, as in overhauling DLC's and Unnessasary things to downloads.
  • Darkmessiah24 - July 6, 2011 12:45 p.m.

    Kinda early to tell, we'll just have to wait and see what happens next. I'm kinda open to this idea so developers can have an choice on how to handle the online functionality of the Wii U but I can why it could cause a mess but again, we'll have to wait and see on how it's handled when the system launches.
  • ClusterShart - July 6, 2011 12:02 p.m.

    If Gabe Newell saying that valve has slight interest in the WiiU, one can hope it's gonna use Steam.
  • Zeb364 - July 6, 2011 11:38 a.m.

    Just as you said, smells of a clusterfuck. Hopefully they'll get their shit together in time. @mijetman: It's not a judgement, it's an observation. He's simply observing the current situation based on the information provided. A judgement is absolute and he openly stated that this could change and that he in fact hopes in does. Don't attempt to take a moral high road that isn't there.
  • GR_DavidHoughton - July 6, 2011 11:37 a.m.

    mijetman: Trust me, there's no-one more supportive of the Wii U right now than me. I'm absolutely behind all the potential this thing has. I just worry that Nintendo's traditional slowness in adopting industry standards in regards to online could be problem here. I want it to work, but until we get word that the Wii U is getting its own Xbox Live or PSN, I'm going to stay cautious. Nintendo has always been one of the most exciting companies in gaming, but there is a track-record in this particular area.
  • mijetman - July 6, 2011 11:29 a.m.

    It's too early to say what the WiiU's online connectivity is going. We should stop speculating and jumping to conclusions because of an elusive comment made by Reggie who clearly also doesn't fully know what it's going to be yet. Dave, please don't pander to the Internet backlash about the WiiU. Nintendo are being deliberately coy about this and making judgements won't help anybody.
  • spoonofmilk - July 6, 2011 11:28 a.m.

    I call it now... it'll be a daft, half-baked online offering from Nintendo that won't be a patch on their hardware competitors. Dave's called it right, it's looking like a mess. In their efforts to be 'different' to the competition they fail to notice those things that work elsewhere. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

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