Social Space: Nintendo should be dying to talk social, but why isn't it?

Nintendo Wii U Miiverse
Nintendo Wii U Miiverse

During an interview last week at Nintendo's special Wii U event in New York, we asked Nintendo Director of Entertainment and Trend Marketing Amber McCollom why social, or Miiverse, and online play weren't a focus. (Frankly, the latter hasn't been much of a focus since the Wii U's reveal.) This is what she had to say:

Yeah, well [it's] true. We didn't spend a lot of time on Miiverse. I think the decision was that--we spent a good amount of time on that on E3, there were actually some asset--we had so much to announce, so we really wanted to focus on games and our entertainment pillar. I wouldn't say, just because it wasn't a big topic, that [it] isn't a priority, but simply since we had so much to talk about.

True, but considering Nintendo has been lambasted by the core audience in the past for its flimsy online offerings--ahem, Friend Codes--shouldn't social and online play be priority number one ... or two? Hell, even number three would suffice. What's even more disconcerting is that, according to Destructoid, even some developers aren't in the know as to how Nintendo's online and social play will work.

During a round-table interview at Tekken creator Namco Bandai headquarters, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 director Katsuhiro Harada had this to say of the Wii U's online network in comparison with the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3: "Not quite sure at this point. I don't fully understand it. We're still working with Nintendo to find out about their network." (We've reached out to Nintendo for comment on this one.)

Nintendo Miiverse
Nintendo Miiverse

Is this case unique to Namco Bandai, or are other developers in the dark on exactly how the Wii U's online and social features will work as well? More importantly, however, is this question: Why is even a single developer unaware of how online and social play will be handled on the Wii U ... less than two months ahead of its launch?

Again, considering the company's track record regarding online play and social features, both should be high on the list of things to talk up well ahead of the launch of its newest console. Nintendo CEO and president Reggie Fils-Aime has given a deeper look into Miiverse through Kotaku, but has yet to talk deliberately about how the service will work within games aside from its integration with New Super Mario Bros. U.

Social and online have become such a crucial component to almost every other gaming platform out there, especially the PS3 and Xbox 360. Nintendo would be remiss not to offer a competitive, proprietary online gaming solution. That fact brings us back to the ultimate question: Why?

Has Nintendo yet to finish developing it (i.e. is still working on it)? Is the company is working on a way to deliver the news that satisfies its consumers? Is Nintendo simply not looking at this as a priority to talk about ahead of launch? Regardless of what the reason may be, we'd classify this situation as one in which the old saying "If you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all" doesn't apply.

Are you surprised by Nintendo's silence regarding online and social? What do you hope the answers are? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.

Joe Osborne is associate editor at News. Weekly in Social Space, Joe shares opinions and observations on the intersection of social gaming and traditional games. Follow him on Twitter here.

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