One of the criticisms that has been aimed at Nintendo in their last few consoles is that it appeared that online play and online networks were hastily thrown together and lacked some of the polish that the competition has. It turns out that it felt that way because key decision-makers at Nintendo were completely unfamiliar with the competition’s consoles. It might take a while for that to really sink in, but I’ll repeat it; key people at Nintendo were so out of the loop that their knowledge of Xbox and PlayStation systems and their online networks were almost non-existent.
It’s a bit of a hard pill to swallow, but when you consider how disinterested Nintendo seems with competing at all with the Wii U it makes a lot of sense. Wii U’s Miiverse was an interesting take on online networking, but there are still complaints about how the Wii U’s online is a bit unwieldy in comparison. I can vouch for how confusing the 3DS can be and how it felt like I had to sign up for different parts of their online services multiple times and how they still use the awful “friend codes” system to add and find friends.
Here is a quote from an anonymous developer on how it was working with Nintendo on Wii U projects.
“We got the chance to talk to some more senior people in Nintendo, via a phone conference, as they were gathering feedback on our development experiences and their toolchain,” the developer wrote.
The discussion started off well enough and covered off our experiences with the hardware and (slow) toolchain and then we steered them towards discussing when the online features might be available. We were told that the features, and the OS updates to support them, would be available before the hardware launch, but only just. There were apparently issues with setting up a large networking infrastructure to rival Sony and Microsoft that they hadn’t envisaged.
This was surprising to hear, as we would have thought that they had plenty of time to work on these features as it had been announced months before, so we probed a little deeper and asked how certain scenarios might work with the Mii friends and networking, all the time referencing how Xbox Live and PSN achieve the same thing. At some point in this conversation we were informed that it was no good referencing Live and PSN as nobody in their development teams used those systems (!) so could we provide more detailed explanations for them?”