If you were expecting Nintendo to roll out an Xbox Live clone, you’d be hard-pressed to find it in the Wii U. During its Nintendo Direct Pre-E3 event today, the company showed us its social gaming network, Miiverse, for the first time. And it’s very very Nintendo.
During the event Nintendo several times spoke to the concept of playing “alone together”, or as we already know it “playing online”. The Miiverse is their hub for this, and focuses on connecting players, families, and friends across space and time… like a Wii TARDIS.
A look of the details show an evolution of Nintendo’s online efforts rather than a complete reimagining.
Firstly, the Miiverse looks to allow for individual logins for players, something that Nintendo had yet to show could exist on their platforms outside of the 3DS. It would allow for interaction between the logged in Mii, other Miis on the Wii U, friends, and other Miis playing the same games as the user.
The Miiverse is the home screen for the Wii U — and was also mentioned as being vital to the 3DS — and mixes social networking alongside the games in the hub. Think of it as a cross between the classic Wii channels with Miis running around, sharing information, messages, and more. From the looks of things, it is slightly reminiscent of the Vita’s Near functionality, but on the big screen and always live.
The Miiverse will be linked via the Nintendo Network, their online gaming service, and can be accessed from Nintendo devices. Interestingly enough, Satoru Iwata — Nintendo’s President — mentioned several times that it was browser-based as well, and accessible from PCs, phones, and other devices via internet, and a mobile web app was even shown. This functionality wouldn’t be available at launch, but would arrive at some point soon after.
As for functionality, here’s the rundown of what was revealed:
- Asynchronous interaction across single-player and multi-player gaming, allowing for notes, comments, a very Dark Souls-like experience. This would be available across all Wii U games, from the start.
- User-to-user messaging including text, writing, video chat, sketching or sending screen captures to friends and other gamers
- An always-on and gaming-specific forum where users can interact about the games, share information, ask questions, and connect with each other
- Messages can be viewed on the big screen or the Gamepad (the official name of the Wii U tablet controller)
It’s certainly a step in the right direction, and Iwata mentioned that there is still more to know about the service as the days and weeks move on. Achievements, the eShop marketplace, gaming lobbies, and other details are still to be shown.
We’re all holding our butts as the big press conference looms on Tuesday, where we expect to find out more.