The next generation of console gaming is almost here, and with it, the next iteration of online services. With the Wii U, Nintendo has finally taken another baby step in its effort to catch up to the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live. At the same time, there has been a fair share of rumors about what the future holds for all three services. Over the next three weeks, I will take a look not only at how all three stack up, but also examine a few of the rumors about their future.
Just over a year ago, the Nintendo Network was launched, taking over from the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. At the time, Nintendo stated that the goal was for Nintendo Network to be on par with their rivals’ services. The fact that the goal was just to be on par with the rivals shows just how far behind they were before the Nintendo Network release. With Nintendo finally realizing just how important online gaming services are, it would be expected that the Nintendo Network and all of its features would be ready for the launch of the much-hyped Wii U. That, however, was not the case, with a large number of items that were promised at the Wii U launch not available until mid-December and beyond.
An issue that held Nintendo back in the previous generation was the use of frustrating Friend Codes. The advent of Nintendo Network ID eschewed Friend Codes, but, as with all things Nintendo, it failed to meet similar rival services. At this time, the Nintendo Network ID is tied to a Wii U console, where rival services feature no such restriction. To make sure that a Nintendo Network ID, along with all of its associated purchases, is transferred from a broken Wii U to a new one, it must be sent into Nintendo. It should be noted that Nintendo has promised that, in the future, the Network ID will not be tied to one console.
With the Miiverse, Nintendo has attempted to turn the Wii U into a social hub for gamers to communicate with one another. The Miiverse was available on launch day of the Wii U and is quite popular, mainly because most early adopters of the Wii U are unabashed Nintendo Fantards and need any reason to feel better about their purchase. One item that is lacking from the Miiverse is an achievement/trophy system. Many gamers are absolute whores when it comes to trophies. The Miiverse would be the perfect area for people to show off their newly earned trophies, yet they are missing.
The future of the Nintendo Network, as with the future of the Wii U, seems rather bleak. A year after its launch, the service is still miles away from its competitors. The highly touted features share a similar attribute with the console they were made for, a ton of promises, but not a lot of delivery. Nintendo continues to burn the goodwill of gamers. They make many promises, yet fail to deliver in a complete manner. Nintendo is driven to turn the Wii U into an entertainment and social hub, however they should focus on fixing the issues that are holding the service back from being comparable to their rivals.
The Nintendo Network is the worst service available at this time. While it is free, it lacks basic features that its rivals also offer for free. The few things that are exclusive to the service are either lame or not fully fleshed out. If Nintendo is to survive this generation it will need to start with making the Nintendo Network a can not miss service. Next week I will delve into the Playstation Network, but for now what are your thoughts on the Nintendo Network?