Why Nintendo’s online gaming paranoia could kill the Wii

vashivihan

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It’s hardly an industry secret that Nintendo is the most reluctant console manufacturer of “the big three” when it comes to pushing online play on its latest home console. Xbox Live has really set the benchmark when it comes to providing what players now readily expect from a gaming experience that takes them into the wider virtual world outside of their own machine, Sony also seems to want to reach that same wavelength, but Nintendo still appears somewhat cautious about the whole idea - a decision that could potentially harm the chances of the Nintendo Wii in the years to come.

Nintendo has been reserved about the process of online gaming for years now. While Microsoft had the ambition, foresight (and monetary funds) to pursue the idea as far back as the launch of Xbox Live with the firm’s first console, Nintendo seemed somewhat reluctant. While allowing third parties to dabble in Internet gaming on the GameCube (most notably SEGA, who provided the GameCube’s only online title, Phantasy Star Online), George Harrison, vice president of marketing for Nintendo of America stated at the time in May 2002 that it saw online projects as “a very interesting market” and one that would be “very small” for the foreseeable future.

That may have been the case, but Microsoft’s openness to developers keen on the idea helped build Xbox Live into what it is today, a fully fledged service that neither Sony nor Nintendo can claim to rival at present. With the Xbox 360 launching a full year before the Nintendo Wii (and with Xbox Live attracting near 5 million paying subscribers as 2007 and the arrival of the Wii approached), you might think that Nintendo’s head honchos would have nodded at each other agreeably across the boardroom table and started working hard towards something similar for their newest machine. Heck, it probably should have happened at least a few years before.

But no, with gargantuan Wii sales throughout the world in 2007, building a credible online service for the machine was probably the least of Nintendo’s worries. Third parties, meanwhile, were getting a little concerned. SNK’s president, Ben Herman, stated in March last year that “Nintendo is still not letting Wii third-party publishers include online capabilities in their games and it doesn’t look like they will during 2007.” And while the situation did slightly improve (both on the third and first party front) as 2007 unfolded, all told the situation was rather pitiful, with only a handful or releases sporting limited online options.

It’s a problem that continues to affect games on the Nintendo Wii into 2008, particularly multi-format titles in which an online offering is a stable part on rival machines. SEGA Superstars Tennis, Rock Band and Madden NFL 09 (which it appears will lack key online components) are just three notable examples. Nintendo seems to be slowly moving in the right direction with the likes of Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Mario Kart Wii, but the severe server problems many gamers have has in relation to the former’s release proves, somewhat, that Nintendo just weren’t aren’t prepared as they should have been. And without a unified structure such as Xbox Live’s, third parties are also all over the place.

Downloadable content is another issue Nintendo is severely lagging behind with, something that looks to be on the mend with the introduction of Wii Pay and Play in the future. And then there’s the debacle, confusion and restrictiveness of Friend Codes and lack of voice chat, both of which are regularly hotly debated. The huge popularity of Xbox Live, Sony’s ambitious plans with Home and LittleBigPlanet, as well as Nintendo’s success with online gaming on the Nintendo DS, prove that the demand is there from players who want to play online, which makes Nintendo’s current paranoia over the home console situation all the more baffling. Baffling and disappointing in equal measures.

Online gaming is integral part of the industry nowadays. It might not seem a priority to Nintendo with the Wii selling so well right now, but come the time where the PS3 begins to catch up with Xbox Live (all the while improving its online service) and in a market more and more developers cater to an audience attracted to such content, the Wii really can’t afford to be left behind, especially in relation to big mult-format games, just because its online component is lacking.

Nintendo’s relatively poor relation towards third parties over a number of issues has been a major contributing factor to its success (or lack thereof) in previous generations, and we reckon, it is imperative that it doesn’t go isolating itself as far as online gaming is concerned during the life cycle of the Wii. The welcoming and relaxed strategy it has adopted to allowing developers clamber over WiiWare should be its inspiration, letting others lead the way a little instead of being so uptight - just lay the foundations properly and let others take advantage of it. C’mon Nintendo, pull your socks up!

this is very true. nice article. linkage
 

jackfromcs

WiiChat Member
Mar 21, 2008
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I agree with the article. Why should Nintendo reject good online play because their Japanese customers think it's 'nerdy'. Because a small fraction of people who buy the console won't use it?

Fine, then take online play out of the Japanese products and let everyone else stay in this decade and play online.
 

Dr Venkman

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Nov 30, 2007
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its annoying for sure, its a pretty simple reason though, they're marketing wii at families and kids, and its working. they think voice chats gonna make the parents concerned about who their kids are talking to, they wanna keep wii the 'safe, family' option for a console, i cant see them changing any time soon.
 

HubMonkey

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Jan 28, 2008
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Will it kill the Wii? NO and it is apparent that it is really not that important to people who want a Wii, if it was there would be tons of them on the shelves and nintendo would die off.

The Wii is NOT about online gaming, it is about the unique controls and what doors of possibility could be opened up with it.

I see lots of the articles criticizing game consoles for every short coming and they are nothing more than hindsight... If these people are so smart, why is there not a 'Perfect" game console out there? I will tell you why, because one cannot be created. It is like having software with zero bugs, will NEVER happen... this is because of the costs associated with with development. R&D is a cost center not a profit center.

Sooo with that said these people who write these articles can jump in the lake because they really have no clue. I hope that people on these forums are smart enough to take those articles with a grain of salt.

Hub
 

wezeles

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You have to understand it's a huge regional thing aswell. In areas such as Japan,Europe for the most part they are in larger citys and live much closer together than people do in the States. The concept of running next door to your buddys house wouldn't even cross your mind you just do it, simple. Yet here in the states, unless you are in one of the bigger cities the majority of people would be going a few miles to get to the closest friends house to share in a multi player game.

That is why Xbox seized the Online market in the USA. Xbox is for the most part a American console, it does sell in Japan and Europe but not to the same level as Wii/PS3. And when it comes to alot of Americans it's not that its a cool extra to have online, it's a downright necessity to alot of gamers that have no friends that live nearby.

The real question is why are the Japanese consoles "Wii/PS3" not fighting more for the American dollar? America has been the majority of the gaming consumer since gaming began. Why ignore such a popular customer draw? Even if its not a big hit in the other regions to lose any of the large profits you can get from gaming in the States. Just add what the customer wants, it is just smart buisness.
I'll cut Nintendo some slack because they where slow to it, and it's not their only market to focus on. But some nice improvement from both Sony/Nintendo would be nice to see in the near future.
 

jimbo

wii are cool!!!!!
Mar 13, 2007
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lol xbox live benchmark, thats like saying crysis on very high (which no one can play...NO ONE) is the benchmark in graphics..

is rockband wii, got online...

it wont kill the wii same reason high prices didnt kill the ps3
 

T3kNi9e

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Dec 1, 2007
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I dont think you can put Sony in the same category as Nintendo as a Japanese company not trying to take advantage of the american market. They are doing fine, there's nothing wrong with PSN, it's free and it's very good for it's zero price.

The Wii's online is horrible, but I doubt they will completely neglect it for too long. Atleast I think so...
 
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vashivihan

vashivihan

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T3kNi9e said:
I dont think you can put Sony in the same category as Nintendo as a Japanese company not trying to take advantage of the american market. They are doing fine, there's nothing wrong with PSN, it's free and it's very good for it's zero price.

The Wii's online is horrible, but I doubt they will completely neglect it for too long. Atleast I think so...

oh u bet they will
 

CantGetAWii

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What would be really nice is having more third party games have online play, rather than just stat tracking or whatever that junk is they do provide.

And Downloadable Content is wishful thinking, first they would need to upgrade the memory of the Wii or at least give us external memory support. Their online will start to improve a bit once voice chat is launched, and I think it will be launched with Animal Crossing (just my guess).
 

wezeles

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Nintendo's big deal is they do need to make money aswell. Unlike Sony and MS that can handle taking a loss on the gaming division because its a nice advertisment base and a small portion of their overall buisness. Nintendo can't afford to lose this type of money, all they do is gaming. This isn't just a way to get more customer it is their livelihood.
If gaming is all you do you have to balance cost to profit, thats why we have always seen Nintendo seem to work in a different realm "specially the last couple generations" from the new "high end" systems.
They have to pay to setup the free online and in thier mind if your not making money directly because of it, it's a loss. To Sony and Microsoft being so huge they can write it off if it doesn't suceed, Nintendo if they invest into a huge flop they could end up having to close the doors.

Nintendo seemed to look at the online features as a bonus to games at first, maybe get a couple buyers that would be on the fence otherwise like with games like SSBB and Mario Kart because the multiplayer is the key to these games.
Now as they see the sucess of games with these features far more than the predicessor, obviously it will be included and at a higher level.
We already see pay-to-play comming, along with more selection of online games, they have gotten the hint.
Are they going to be the best online provider with the widest selection of games? Probably not! ha ha Wii is known for being the party console. It's the one you bust out with friends in your own living room not so much when your home by yourself and you want to hop online.
Still I'm sure it will improve at the least this will give them a nice jump into the future for next gen of what they do and do not want to do with online.

Free internet service from the Cheepest console on the market, obviously its not going to be the best setup. They can do better but for what we paid for the service "Nothing" it is more of a perk than a necessity when compared to the competing pay service, and the free service offered by the most expensive console on the market.
If anything Nintendo making a more on par online service would simply piss off PS3/360 owners because they pay a premium for the better service. The argument will never be gone it will just change directions as things change.
 
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jl559

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Dec 15, 2007
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I would rather much pay for better online than have a terrible free one. Maybe there should be two types of online-one for free, which is like it is now, and another superior online service ala xbox live. But then there would be problems arising from people using the free service asking that why is nintendo making us pay for a better service which, in their opinion, should be free.
 
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vashivihan

vashivihan

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jl559 said:
I would rather much pay for better online than have a terrible free one. Maybe there should be two types of online-one for free, which is like it is now, and another superior online service ala xbox live. But then there would be problems arising from people using the free service asking that why is nintendo making us pay for a better service which, in their opinion, should be free.

wait. why would people using the free service ask why ninty is making them pay for online?

also problems would arise from people who are paying trying to play with people who are not paying. features would vary between them
 

jl559

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vashivihan said:
wait. why would people using the free service ask why ninty is making them pay for online?

also problems would arise from people who are paying trying to play with people who are not paying. features would vary between them

i meant people using the free service would start to think that they're getting ripped off because they think the features they're not getting, which are in the pay one, should be free. Especially if they look at the Playstation Network which is free yet includes online standards like voice chat, leaderboards, etc.
 

Subarnu

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It wont kill the Wii, like wezeles said, the Wii is a party console. A lot of people buy the Wii because they can play virtual tennis with their spouse.
 

RPGMasterTurk91

Turkish RPG Master
Aug 2, 2006
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HubMonkey said:
Will it kill the Wii? NO and it is apparent that it is really not that important to people who want a Wii, if it was there would be tons of them on the shelves and nintendo would die off.

The Wii is NOT about online gaming, it is about the unique controls and what doors of possibility could be opened up with it.

I see lots of the articles criticizing game consoles for every short coming and they are nothing more than hindsight... If these people are so smart, why is there not a 'Perfect" game console out there? I will tell you why, because one cannot be created. It is like having software with zero bugs, will NEVER happen... this is because of the costs associated with with development. R&D is a cost center not a profit center.

Sooo with that said these people who write these articles can jump in the lake because they really have no clue. I hope that people on these forums are smart enough to take those articles with a grain of salt.

Hub

I understand what you're saying, but I agree with the article more. Today's gaming undustry in America favors online play--when was the last time parents looked at the games they buy or their children buy? I guarantee you that half, if not more, of all parents would not have approved of any of the San Andreas games for their children to purchase and play. Adding online capabilities is what people want--kids and not. Normally, parents don't think "wow that console has internet connection, my child is going to use it and talk to people and it will have negative effects on him". It's still all about the money, and people are demanding good online gameplay like never before--literally.

If the Wii does not improve its online play soon, it will be known as a console with bad online capabilties and qualities, as it is already starting to be known as such--and people will cease to buy it.

How many people bought the Wii, for the most part, for its "competitive multiplayer online game for the Wii" (SSBB)? The number wont be in the millions, but even in the thousands is plenty. Trust me online play is basically whats "in" right now and it isn't going to die out any time soon; if this cannot be helped than people will simply "reject" the Wii. The majority of the owners, it seems, would like to see a good online play--games that were once limiting to four people within your household--to broaden to your entire country or even the whole world. And because it's possible and it has been done, and most of all has been a success, people want more of it in general.
 
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