Kotaku recently had some interesting thoughts regarding Nintendo’s online service based on a conversation that author Stephen Totilo had with Nintendo President Saturo Iwata. Stephen walked away with the impression that the Wii U’s Miiverse functionality would be more similar to Facebook than Xbox Live. Here are a few highlights.
” ‘I feel that we need to create—or present—a gaming platform as the place to create that ‘social graph’ for folks who are in gaming circles,’ Iwata said as he began to describe to me Nintendo’s ambitions for an online service called Miiverse that will launch on Nintendo’s new console and eventually spread to the company’s 3DS handheld as well.’ ”
“Online gaming can be a hostile place. If gamers could be more empathetic, that would be great. Since E3, I had assumed that is what he was getting at. I remembered this as we chatted and as I looked at the 3DS XL I’d placed between me and Iwata. I thought about one of my favorite features of the 3DS, how a small green indicator lights up when my system is near someone else’s 3DS system as the two machines wirelessly and automatically trade greetings between me and the other machine’s owner and how those little “Street Pass” connections turn out to be delightful discoveries when I remove my 3DS from my bag and see the green light glowing. It makes me feel good about other gamers; maybe even empathetic.”
“On the other hand, you’re not always going to be available at the same time to play with each other. And of course we’re going to have that service of head-to-head [multiplayer, when you are] on at the same time playing games against each other, but what we really want to do is create a place where folks who are playing by themselves will not feel like they are playing by themselves. They’ll be able to share those experiences and have that empathy that we mentioned earlier.”
All of this sounds like it’s right up my alley. While I enjoy online multiplayer, I absolutely refuse to wear a headset unless I’m playing with real life friends. Call me thin skinned, but Xbox Live is not a fun place for me. Perhaps it’s because I enjoy fighting games, where players know exactly who is beating them down, but Xbox Live is filled with negativity, whining, insults, and even threats. By modeling themselves on Facebook, which tends to be a more positive place, rather than Xbox Live, perhaps Nintendo can make a better online experience.