This is a safe statement to make as every consumer electronic product has a relationship with the Internet. Even refrigerators and television sets connect to the Internet. We’ve already seen how the Internet changed the context of computers. The Wii U will depend on how it uses the Internet.
How should a game console use the Internet? This question is what will differentiate the game consoles of the 8th Generation and the future. The debate of computing hardware will largely diminish as Internet relationships take over.
“But is Internet gaming important when you have great local multiplayer?” moans Nintendo. “Is it not good enough?”
What is local multiplayer about? It is about playing with your friends and family. What is Internet gaming truly about? It is about playing with your friends and family.
No one expects Nintendo to make a MMORPG or to make games to ‘take on the world’. All anyone wants is for the JOB, that local multiplayer does, be applied with Internet multiplayer.
Internet gaming was popularized by PC gaming which is why Western gaming is so far ahead of Japanese gaming because of it. No one expects, or even wants, Nintendo to ‘innovate’ on the Internet side. I think Nintendo has been overanalyzing their Internet approach. They look at what their competitors do and say, “How can we do this better? How can we do this different?”
Keep it simple, stupid. All that matters is the gamer being able to play with friends and family.
Take Nintendo Land. The game is great in local multiplayer (I have no idea what its single player components, if any, are). But a game like Nintendo Land would be truly awesome if it had Internet capability. But what type of Internet capability? That is the question.
I don’t expect Nintendo to make a ‘play versus the world’ type of Internet capability with such a game. We don’t need massive lobbies and all that. I understand Nintendo is hesitant to provide a server for such a game as servers are expensive and what do you do years later? If people know you will eventually turn off the server, doesn’t the Internet multipilayer lose its value?
The solution is to allow us to play with friends and family. Bob lives in Kentucky (poor Bob). I live in Texas. Local multiplayer is not an option. However, we can both play Luigi’s Mansion of Nintendo Land together and do so easily and quickly. We can call up some friends around the world and all play the game together. This is not unlike how PC gaming does direct connections.
You know how Internet gaming originated? It was taking LAN (Local Area Network) and TRICKING IT to pass over the Internet through packets. Jay Cotton did this to play Doom multiplayer over the Internet. He then applied it to other games and sold the program as Kali. Blizzard was so impressed with Kali that they shipped it on the Warcraft 2 CD (and based Battle.Net around what Kali started).
Internet PC gaming was nothing more than Local PC Gaming and applying it through the Internet. This marks the path for Nintendo to take.
People say, “Nintendo has great local multiplayer but not good Internet multiplayer.” Multiplayer is multiplayer. Since nearly all Internet multiplayer derives itself from local multiplayer concepts. Nintendo has the potential to be the platform that provides the best Internet multiplayer gaming experience because it is, hands down, the platform that provides the best local multiplayer gaming experience.
Much of the ‘Internet gaming’ experiences seen on Nintendo’s competitors is just PC gaming applied to consoles. But console gaming is not PC gaming. Actual console Internet gaming has, as of yet, remain unexplored.
I think Nintendo pursued 3d so much because it was ‘fun’ for them. But Internet gaming is not ‘fun’. There are many issues and many bugs that come up due to Internet gaming. Iwata announced that Nintendo will only pursue Internet gaming at a ‘tepid’ pace and not jump right in like Sony and Microsoft. But a tepid pace will create tepid sales.
All we want is to play with friends and family. This is not 2006. Not having Internet capability is akin to telling people they will be unable to play with their friends and family.
Nintendo Land doesn’t allow this. Neither does NSMB U. Nor Pikmin 3.
When will Nintendo allow us to play with friends and family not in the same room?