Nintendo's next major console, the Wii U, is less than a week from release. With pre-orders for the system sold out across many major retailers, analysts expect a strong holiday launch for the first "next-generation" console. We have one of the $350 units in the Games.com office right now, but can't say much more than that until its release on Nov. 18.
However, what we can say is that you won't know much more than what you've already heard, seen or read about the online offerings of Wii U, like Miiverse, the Nintendo Network or the eShop. That's because all of those features will be unlocked with a day-one software update, which according to IGN, media is supposed to receive shortly before launch.
One more, well, a few things we can say are what we want to see from the online and social side of the Wii U, because, frankly, Nintendo has a golden opportunity to innovate in the console space beyond the controller. With that, here's what we (meaning this editor, of course) want to see from Wii U as far as social and online are concerned:
Social, Social, Social
This is the aforementioned golden opportunity, and given what Nintendo has teased with New Super Mario Bros. U, we're cautiously optimistic. The ability to challenge and communicate with friends asynchronously is part of what helped Facebook skyrocket into the next web-based gaming platform. Both this and the GamePad are where Nintendo could tap the blue ocean it created with the original Wii.
True Online Play
Playing Super Mario with your buddies on the couch is great, but not all of us have that luxury. We already know that Nintendo won't be handling it's online play like Sony or Microsoft does (so much so that it doesn't look like universal voice chat will be a thing). Regardless, especially in its games developed in-house, we need online multiplayer ... stat.
Reasons to Play Online
Not only do we need online multiplayer, but we need a reason to keep coming back to it. Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network do this with achievements, trophies and leaderboards. Miiverse is the perfect opportunity to craft something similar for its players, giving them a reason to keep playing online beyond the initial wow factor.
After revealing to NeoGAF that the Wii U does not have such a universal system, co-founder of Scribblenauts creator 5th Cell Jeremiah Slaczka said this: "The Miiverse is in its infancy. Just think how much the PS3/360 dashboard and store changed to meet people's needs. I'm sure Nintendo will do plenty of updates and new integration of systems as time goes on." He's absolutely right, but considering all signs point to at least one new console coming in 2013, Nintendo needs to act on those updates and integrations--and fast.
Are you excited for the Wii U? What do you think about what you've heard of Miiverse? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.
Joe Osborne is associate editor at Games.com News. Weekly in Social Space, Joe shares opinions and observations on the intersection of social gaming and traditional games. Follow him on Twitter here.