It looks like Nintendo’s ever-persisting struggle to win over the affection of online gamers will take another crippling blow, as Reggie Fils Aime recently revealed in a Forbes interview that the Wii U’s online functionality will independently depend on the publisher.
Reggie calls it “flexible”. I call it “divided”.
The NOA president states:
“For Wii U, […] what we’re doing is creating a much more flexible system that will allow the best approaches by independent publishers to come to bear. So instead of a situation where a publisher has their own network and wants that to be the predominant platform, and having arguments with platform holders, we’re going to welcome that. We’re going to welcome that from the best and the brightest of the third party publishers.”
Inherently, that’s just vague and positive enough to sound acceptable, even preferable. But it’s that last sentence that really has me worried.
Large third-party publishers, like EA and Ubisoft, have their own online solution, but are still forced to adhere to certain standards when adapting online play for, say, the Xbox 360. Giving them the freedom to adapt their own online policy could mean not having a unified online handle, nor friend list, nor connecting hub.
What’s more troubling is the phrase “best and brightest”. What about the smaller developers who can’t afford to create their own online structure? Hopefully, Nintendo will offer some sort of universal solution for those who don’t want to reinvent the wheel.
Nintendo Wii also has a “flexible” online structure where third-party publishers are able to build their own unique experience, and most would argue that didn’t work out very well. Granted, no specific details of the Wii U’s online functionality have been revealed, so this is largely speculation. Let’s just hope Nintendo learns from their mistakes and gives fans the online experience they truly want.