One of the harshest and strongest criticisms anyone can toss down on the Wii, aside from third party support and underwhelming tech specs, is the terrible online network. Nintendo Wi-fi is almost a joke, and we say that with our full love of the company in mind. Friend Codes, the practical absence of a great chat network, missing lobby systems and terrible player-to-player communication highlight the sheet of reasons why the online component of the Wii is bad.
With the Wii U, however, Nintendo's looking for a fresh start. The company hopes to right the wrongs of the previous generation and span the gap that they created between the casual and core gamers. They hope to release a system that's both, to use their lame catchphrase from the E3 press conference, wider and deeper.
Reggie Fils-Aime spoke with Forbes about the online portion of their upcoming console and the way they intend to design the network. Here's his full quote, our breakdown to follow.
We’ve seen what our competitors have done, and we’ve acknowledged that we need to do more online, starting with the launch of our eShop on Nintendo 3DS, and we’re going to continue to build our online capability. For Wii U, we’re going to take that one step further, and what we’re doing is creating a much more flexible system that will allow the best approaches by independent publishers to come to bear. So 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.
While it's great that Reggie and The Big N are realigning their online focus, we hesitate to accept the fact that a non-unified network is the best move for gamers. Sure, telling third party and independent publishers to host their own networks and go nuts with handling player interaction may be appealing to those companies; however, the players taking advantage of those services will be left with a massive chunk of incongruent gaming.
A unique user name and completely unique friends list for every game you play. Consider that. If every game offers up its own service without restrictions and limitations put into place by Nintendo, there's no telling how they'll handle friendships and player matchups.
Or if they'll handle them at all.
We love this "we can fix it" attitude that Nintendo appears to be applying to their newest pursuit. The online side of the console definitely needs that sort of attention. But a free-for-all probably won't fix their host of problems, and we're hoping that Fils-Aime simply isn't detailing the type of restrictions Nintendo will have in place in order to maintain a sense of online unity.