MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, Blogger, Second Life and now PlayStation Home, the world of online social networking is growing at a huge rate.
At his recent GDC keynote address in San Francisco Shigeru Miyamoto gave us an insight into how the Mii system came to be. Dating back over ten years, the system has only finally come to light on the Wii. It is clear that this personalised approach to gaming and networking is now seen as the way forward in the gaming industry now.
Sony’s surprise announcement of Home now poses a key threat to Nintendo’s Mii system, but I think that the cute little characters might have a few tricks up their sleeves yet.
Nintendo have been hinting at an expansion to the Mii Channel for a while now. We all know they can do, so for me it is more a question of when. It is the very simplicity of the Mii system that is its biggest asset. It can be manipulated and wrapped around so many things that Nintendo can really begin to exploit it if they are clever enough. Some people have called for the Mii characters to be used in Animal Crossing, which could work very well indeed. But how about we take it on to another level?
MySpace is one of the most popular websites in the world, and love it or hate it, it is a very clever idea. If Nintendo can get around privacy and kiddy safety issues, I’m sure they could use the Wii to create some sort of Mii-centric social universe. By linking together a Mii profile to your Wii, Nintendo would be able to track the games you play, your friends, your interests and your Wii related activities. If your page was only available to people you swap Wii codes with, then it would be perfectly safe. Link in your Wii Sports age, your scores on other Wii related games and some of the Miis you have created.
If you create this all in a little Mii virtual world (similar to a very small Animal Crossing vil-lage) where you can pick up your mail, catch up with friends, perhaps play some basic games and catch up on the latest Mii news and even hang your favourite pictures from the Photo Channel on your virtual walls. Shove it all on a Wii Channel called WiiWorld or something similarly stupid and you’ve got a license to print money in console sales. Heck, they could even do some very evil in game advertising and have posters and clever product placements dotted around from time to time.
Nintendo aren’t stupid and they really do realise what makes the industry tick right now. This would be a great way to make the Mii a more personal place. They have already snagged people with the idea of the Wii, so why not expand on it and make the Wii into a tool that everyone in the family can enjoy? We all love getting mail on our Wiis, so why not get it in a little Virtual World and be able to catch up with friends and see if they want to play you online on Pokémon or Smash Bros?
Companies are trying harder and harder to try and inch their ways into our everyday lives. Nintendo have said right from the off that they want people to ‘turn on their Wii everyday’, but for me they haven’t yet given us a good enough reason. The news, weather and voting systems are all well and good, but there isn’t yet a massive opportunity to connect with other people and feel part of a network. Risky as it may be, I think Nintendo have to embrace it to move the Wii forward. Home will be a massive thing for the PlayStation and we already know how important XBOX Live has become for Microsoft, so Nintendo need to build a hub around which the Wii’s future online services will revolve. A centralised WiiWorld that links together your online persona, your friends, your online gaming and your Wii profile would be a hugely powerful tool.
Link in the Wii Shopping Channel in some way and Nintendo will finally have the Wii Channel system networked and linked together in a coherent and cohesive way. Linking together our lives has become hugely important. Being connected is essential to how we operate, so if Nintendo want people to turn on their Wii everyday, they need to make it part of this connected world. At the moment, the online system on the Wii is a major letdown.
Had it not been for the major stock market deal silencing Nintendo during the GDC they would probably have unveiled a new Wii Channel. As things stand, how the Wii will function online and bring together the great Wii community is something of a mystery. I’m just speculating on what I feel Nintendo might chose to do, but also what they have been hinting they might have in the pipeline. The Wii has a huge amount of untapped potential and I for one can’t wait to see it on show...
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digg_title = 'New Wii Channel: Wii World?';
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