Thursday, October 18, 2012

With under one month to go before the Wii U's debut, messaging remains an issue.

Where is the hype?

That must be one of the most common refrains heard across the interwebs from people in the know scratching their heads about Nintendo's sluggish movement.

Expanding on the Google Trends analysis done a few weeks ago, searches for Wii in October 2006 climbed 27% from September when Nintendo officially unveiled pricing and launch details. In contrast Wii U searches from September 2012 (also the month the revealed launch and price details) is down 50%.  Similarly, Wii + Nintendo searches were up 35% in 2006; Wii +Wii U + Nintendo searches are down 22% from September.

Granted this isn't a fair comparison given there are two two weeks to go in October and we know the marketing will ramp up closer to the end of the month.  The Wii U demo kiosks for example finally started appearing in stores yesterday.

However, the bigger question remains as to how exactly Miiverse, Nintendo Network and it's on-line system will work.

At last month's price and release date announcement in New York, Nintendo of America's Bill Trinen let it slip that more details on Miiverse will be revealed closer to launch.  How thorough a presentation and how close to launch remains an open question.

Nintendo is expected to release financials October 24th, so one may expect news to come out around that time, but this is not guaranteed.  The scope of the clarification expected also remains a mystery.  Will it be a dinky video showing Miiverse working with Super Mario Bros. U or will it be a detailed hour-long Nintendo Direct explaining all the features of the Wii U, from Miiverse to the expected accounts system that will be tied to it?

No one knows, and the silence is killing the hype.

The issue Nintendo faces now is with a lack of information on their on-line modes, Nintendo Network and Miiverse, the rumour-mongers are starting to control their message with negative hype-killing stories such as:

No Elite Pass for CoD Black Ops II - Suggesting sup-par on-line modes when a major 3rd party has given up on trying extra monetization on their biggest franchise, at least for this year.

Wii U voice chat being supported but not through the GamePad's Mic -  While the extra tethering to a Wii U GamePad might be a little bit annoying, this opens the question of whether cross-game chat would be supported or would players be limited to certain games?  No answer so far.

On those two questions that are 'important' to some 'core' gamers, Nintendo basically just outsourced their Wii U PR to an Activision rep and the editorial slant at Kotaku and the various media outlets who picked up the story. No official word from Nintendo, just lots of negativity from core gamers already fearing the worst.

While Nintendo of America may not be able to 'fix' some of these problems, as it is possible even Nintendo themselves isn't quite sure on how to solve some of them, the fact that they are letting others control their message this close to launch is troubling.

So how about it Nintendo?  What exactly is going on with your on-line infrastructure?  When will we finally get to know all the features we're being asked to buy in a month?  Is this another 6 month wait for a proper on-line system like we had with the 3DS? Friend codes again? Accounts?

So many questions. So far, zero answers.

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