One of Nintendo’s major shortfallings with the DS, Wii, and (to a certain extent) the 3DS is online gaming and online services. Now, the 3DS eShop is actually pretty good after its recent update, but the DS lacked an online shop, and the Wii’s was not the best it could be. Personally, I found it hard to navigate. But I digress.
The Wii U could be a new start for Nintendo’s online capabilities; it could be one of the major selling factors if done right. But what, pray tell, do they need to be successful?
They need to market to people who currently play the PS3 and Xbox 360 while maintaining their own following.
The main question is, how do they do this?
Firstly, it needs to be free to use; I don’t know about the majority of gamers, but I think that it is just wrong to charge for online services (and thus, my second console is a PS3 and not Xbox). If Nintendo wants to draw these gamers in, forcing a monthly or yearly payment on them is not a smart thing to do; if they were going to pay for online, why not use the already prevalent Xbox Live? Also, PS3 users will not want to swap over if they will have to pay.
They also need to offer it at launch, along with titles that take advantage of it (but we’ll get to that part later on). They need to pull in gamers at launch, when the Wii U is in the spotlight. If they wait until a few months after launch, hardcore gamers will have lost interest in it. And, after launch, they need to make sure they keep the service reliable; nothing like Brawl’s often laggy online. If the online content is not there at launch, neither will half of Nintendo’s target audience.
Another thing that Nintendo needs to wrap their heads around is this: no one likes the friend code system. After hearing about it constantly from DS and Wii owners, they still implemented the system on the 3DS (although they did at least give one friend code per system, instead of different codes for different games). Just the other day, a bunch of the staff and I were adding each other to our 3DS friends list. What did we all have to say first, though? “Hold on, let me grab my 3DS and get my friend code.” That shouldn’t happen; the friend code system doesn’t work because people don’t want to memorize their code. I’m sure that many (myself included) are capable of memorizing their code; they just don’t want to.
Also, friend codes will be a major turn-off to the hardcore gamers that Nintendo is trying to allure. If they want to succeed, they need to implement some sort of Gamertag/Gamer ID/Nintendo Network ID/etc. that people can easily remember and share.
No thanks, how about a Nintendo Network ID instead?
Most of all, the Nintendo Network needs games that capitalize on its online capabilities and draw in Nintendo gamers and hardcore gamers. In order to do this, they are going to need plenty of third party support to begin with. If Call of Duty: Black Ops II were to come to the system at launch, it would be huge for Nintendo. It could be the necessary title to draw the hardcore gamers to the Wii U if it has appealing exclusive content or game modes. Even if the control setup is appealing, it would help.
While third-party online games would help the system, the Wii U will also need online experiences that are exclusive to the console. Nintendo needs to develop online-driven games of their own. If they were to have their own FPS or Third-Person Shooter with online capabilities available at launch, I know that would draw me in. I know that Kid Icarus has been shelved for a while, but it’s online mode is something similar to what the Wii U needs. If they were to port the online portion only as a downloadable or cheap hard copy game, that could definitely help. Or, they could develop another game in the same vein (perhaps a Metroid Prime-esque game?).
A Pokemon MMO would also showcase the system’s online capabilities well. It wouldn’t draw in as many of the hardcore gamers, though, which makes the other choices slightly superior in that department.
These ideas are very novel; they are something that Nintendo hasn’t done before (or at the least, not recently). Why not go with something that they have done before to begin with? A Mario Kart and/or F-Zero game with online racing would sell systems easily; when the next Super Smash Bros. game comes out, it should be able to take advantage of the service fully as well.
What do you, the commenters, think of these ideas? What would you want to see out of the Nintendo Network?