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Nintendo reveals Wii U's Miiverse, new hardware specifics
Nintendo reveals Wii U's Miiverse, new hardware specifics
June 3, 2012 | By Eric Caoili

June 3, 2012 | By Eric Caoili
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    41 comments
More: Console/PC, Social/Online, Business/Marketing, E3



Ahead of its presentations at E3, Nintendo revealed several key initiatives for its upcoming Wii U console, including a social layer that will be deeply integrated into the system - and beyond onto PCs and smartphones.

The company did not make any game announcements during Sunday's Nintendo Direct livestream, but it introduced new features for the "Wii U GamePad," its newly named tablet controller for the system, such as video chat (similar to iOS's Facetime feature) and "Miiverse" social functions.

When users turn on the console, they will be greeted with crowds of Mii avatars surrounding game icons and discussing them. They can read what people around the world are saying about a game, as well as participate in the conversations by posting their own typed or handwritten messages.

Nintendo showed a Twitter-like newsfeed that users could access and post messages to with the GamePad. They can even call others from that feed, and conduct a video chat session that uses the tablet's built-in camera.

"The purpose of Miiverse is not only to add information but a new degree of empathy between players," said Nintendo CEO and president Satoru Iwata. He noted that the console's development team sought to build something "that will help unite people rather than divide them."


These Miiverse features extend into games -- Nintendo showed a clip of players going through a New Super Mario Bros. title, and then seeing text-based comments posted by others appear next to specific game stages.

When Wii U launches this holiday season, Miiverse will only be accessible through the new console. But Nintendo intends to eventually make this social platform available on Nintendo 3DSes, PCs, and web-enabled mobile devices such as smartphones.

"We consider the small screen on the Wii U itself as a social window fully capable of linking player to player, from living room to living room, sharing across both time and space," said Iwata.

He adds, "Not only does Wii U offer players a way to connect across great distances, but they can also enjoy a sense of connection even when they are not playing at the same time."

Nintendo also demonstrated other GamePad features, such as using the tablet as an infrared TV remote, playing a game on the tablet even if someone is watching TV, and browsing the internet on the controller.

As for the design of the Wii U's controller itself, Nintendo revealed that it had replaced the 3DS-style Circle Pads shown in previous designs with analog sticks. It has a new NFC Reader/Writer element, too, for scanning physical items that will drop virtual content into games.


For "core" users, Nintendo also unveiled its Wii U Pro Controller, a traditional game pad that lacks a touchscreen and looks like an updated version of Wii's Classic Controller Pro. The alternative design is meant to be "lighter and more attractive for longer, more intense forms of gaming."

Nintendo intends to discuss other hardware details for Wii U, upcoming software, and other 3DS announcements during its E3 week presentations.


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Comments


Joe Zachery
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The Miiverse is very Nintendo like, and I'm very happy about that.

Amir Sharar
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A friend of mine had a great observation in regards to the 360 as compared to the PS3. He said he felt that when they hopped on their 360, he was joining their friends even if he wasn't playing with them or communicating with them. Contrast that to the PS3 where when he booted it up, he felt alone.

When I saw this unveiling from Nintendo, I remembered that observation, and I think people will feel that when they boot up their Wii U that they are joining their friends and a larger gaming community. The Wii U controller will cement that sensation with voice chat (without a headset) and video chat being standard among every single Wii U owner.

The fact that this is all in the OS makes it much better, and could potentially impact popular Wii apps like Netflix (which on the U it will finally be HD I assume) among others. So while the impact on the games experience was focused on, I think it can open the door to enhancing many other apps, like Draw Something (if it were to appear on the Wii).

A W
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Exactly. I don't understand why the Home universe never replaced the xmb bar on PS3. The way Nintendo presented the Miiverse is that it is the first thing you see on you screen on boot up. No more channel style look. Complete interactivity from the go. This is more social media like in consoles than any console currently out at this moment. The took some cues from Xbox live and made it better in theory. I ready to see it in reality.

Eric McVinney
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This is very interesting, indeed, as I'm currently thinking about getting the Wii U. Major props to Nintendo for sticking to their guns and also creating a controller for us "core" gamers ;P

Joe McGinn
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Miiverse sound like Playstation Home? Which has been pretty well established no one wants.

Nicholas MacDonald
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Fascinating. How is it like playstation home? I don't know much about the service.

Joe McGinn
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Adding a layer of world+character in between you and your game. Which was pretty much the gamer response to Home: GTFO of my way I just want to play a game!

Joe Zachery
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Home was pretty a game inside of a game. It's GTA with out the violence, sex, and crime. Which pretty makes it a boring experience. Most of the cool stuff of home was still a single experience that you had to invite people too. This is like being at a huge park or male. You stand alone, but still can see other crowds doing things. If you decided to to join them you can.

Amir Sharar
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Nicholas, it isn't much like Home. Home is essentially an App for the PS3 that gives users an avatar and a method to communicate with other people on the service. The nature of the communication was for the most part direct voice and text. Because it was an application, it was a bit disjointed from the rest of the PSN experience.

This effort from Nintendo, much like Xbox Live, is an OS level avatar and communication system that expands on the communication aspects that we see on current systems. It has elements of Twitter (public broadcasts of text messages), elements of Skype (video conferencing), and because it is OS level it can tie in directly to games.

As in the video provided by Nintendo, you could see what your friends were saying about levels in Super Mario, from within the game itself (and not a separate app or interface). This is quite different than Sony's Home which is a bit more like a virtual playground that apart from game themed locales, isn't heavily integrated into games.

Joe McGinn
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So you're basically saying yes, it is like Home in concept, but technically done better. I'm saying it's not something gamers want. It's actively unappealing in some ways - as an extra layer of interface, as conversation about something you do not want to pay attention to right now (playing another game, etc).

They are basically saying, if a game console was like Faecbook, people will want to chat all the time. But a game console isn't like Facebook. Facebook is a time-waster, top to bottom, so people want to chat. I think they are engaging in a misconception that there is something inherently fun about social networks that people want in other more interesting hobbies. It will fail for the same reason that putting Facebook or Twitter interfaces in your console game is a waste of effort.

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A W
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I think I would like Miiverse over Home just because Home was nothing more that Second Life with the fun stripped out, and was obvously a huge advertisement campaign for Sony to nickle and dime the consumer. Its other problem was that it was inclosed in itself and did not use the existing internet to connect out beyond the PS3 consumer.

Miiverse seems like a virtual social network that takes the better parts of the internet social networking system and makes it tangible to the consumer. Nintendo already has a website and does have a community, so building this and repositioning their website to accommodate the changes to be more like a G+, Skype, Twitter style system would not be too far off the mark. The other interesting fact that I like was that it is going to use the existing web to allow people to socialize making it a much more open system of communication between players. What remains to be seen now is if existing social networks will a low apps that directly connect Nintendo social to their own for cross the board postings. Guess well see Tuesday how this plays out.

Nicholas MacDonald
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Okay after reading up on it myself I have to say Joe...Comparing it to Playstation Home is poor because of the fact that Home's big thing was it's whole virtual world concept. They both have the end-goal of being social networks, but I think it's wasteful to say that they are similar in any sense of usability. Miiverse looks more robust because it's designed in a way that makes integration with games seamless and useful - I've seen a couple of Dark Souls comments, and those seem dead on to me.

Realistically when Sony and Microsoft finally announce their own next generation consoles, we are going to see similar features. Especially since both companies have been playing around with social networking for so long, seeing their competitor implement it in such a fashion will definitely push them to integrate the features, although they probably were already considering it anyway.

Eric Feliu
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@Joe McGinn I think it is a stretch to say Miiverse is like Playstation Home. Sure they both have social interactions, but that is where the similarities end in my opinion. Playstation Home was an afterthought tacked on by Sony to compete with MS and Nintendo in the Avatar/Mii arena. Nintendo started the whole trend of Mii's in games and this seems like a natural progression to me.

I can see you are not a fan of this sort of stuff and to be honest I don't care for it much myself. I know for a fact though that kids love this kind of stuff. My children spend a lot of time creating Mii's and interactig with them on the Wii/3DS so any enhancement there is going to be well received by the fans in my opinion.

Harlan Sumgui
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I really hope I'm wrong because the Wii made a lot of people good wages over the course of its life, but that feed was quite discouraging. It looks as if they are going to try and sell the system as a social gaming experience. And, unless I'm misreading the situation, people are already drowning in digital social media right now.

Although, apparently they will be offering video chat with random strangers which no other game company currently offers. Just what ever parent wants to get for their child.

I'm wagering the WiiU wont be the shot in the arm the industry needs.

Mike Murray
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So you think the Wii U won't have any sort of parental controls, like the Wii and 3DS do?

Joe McGinn
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It's pretty hard to imagine any console selling to parent+kids crowd for the foreseeable future. If anyone can do it it's Nintendo ... but that's a tough row to how. Competing directly against iOS and online games that currently own the kids/family market.

EnDian Neo
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I can see 1 particular market: parents who give a WiiU to their kids so they can get their Iphone/pad back... ...

On a more serious note, does the WiiU controller's display mean I can play my WiiU games like a handheld?

Ian Uniacke
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I think this is an evolution of the social interface. For a similar thing try Diablo 3. If I was to try and make a dot point list of what is revolutionary about that social experience I'm not entirely sure I could write it down. All I know is that Blizzard completely changed the landscape. I feel this is what Nintendo are doing to the console space with the Wii U.

Harlan Sumgui
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@mike: of course they will have controls. my comment was a jab at the absolutely terrible, bucket scrapping presentation they had that [i]showed[/i] random video chat with strangers.

A W
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Did I miss something in the presentation? I though the guy was his gaming partner? It seem to be implied. But I'm sure Nintendo being the company that it is has the parental control thing on standby for all those concerned about that sort of thing.

Harlan Sumgui
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@Christian, if the whole presentation was intentionally satirical, including the part where Iwata looked 2 feet tall, in an ill fitting suit, standing in front of1970s wood grain paneling, then I take everything back.

If that was the case, then Iwata isn't just the coolest Japanese CEO, but the coolest CEO period.

Bob Johnson
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We'll see how it plays out. The social stuff I really could care less about. I just don't play Nintendo games with socializing in mind except with my kids or once in awhile a buddy all in person.

But from the sound of it the integration of twitter like messaging inside games across the board will probably be copied by MS and Sony.

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John Flush
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Hum, I hope I can turn it off, the Miiverse that is. That and I won't let my kids online in the video game world. Too many profane things out there when voice and text gets involved. Someday they will grow up and it will be different I'm sure, but I'm just not willing to let them dive into the trash that is "generic internet sharing" as of yet.

William Johnson
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My concern is that Nintendo isn't known for having open and free systems. (Free as in freedom, not as in value) I mean, how much of the Thought Police are we going to have to worry about here before Big Brother does something to us?

But I do have to say this has put the WiiU back on my radar, when before I was very sure I didn't want it. I'm still far from being sold, but if it has a lot of good games, which come out at a semi regular intervales, and is cheap (sub $200), I'd think about it a little more.

A W
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It remains to be seen. It really does, but well see. They did have a test run of internet social interaction on the DS with Metroid Hunters. Hackers killed the fun for me on that game.

E Zachary Knight
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I honestly don't see it being less than $300. If we are really really lucky, it might be $250, but It won't be any lower than that for the first few years.

Joseph Anthony B. A. Tanimowo-Reyes
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Honestly, all of my doubts have been alleviated. I'm grabbing this on day one.

k s
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I'm almost salivating at the idea of finally getting my hands on one of these bad boys later this year.

A W
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I surprised that someone has not yet accused Nintendo of going backwards on the controller issue. What I did not see in the presentation was a re-engineered Wii Mote. Instead we got a new pro game pad design which can be argued is nothing more than the 360 / Ps3 controller. Maybe there are somethings being held back for the main E3 presentation. But the design of the Wii Mote can be improved. My opinion on improvement lies in the nun-chuck area.

A W
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Well I have grown to really like the Wii Mote for gaming Christian. I do hope they make the Nunchuck wireless and maybe redesign and move the C trigger to where the Z trigger is and move the Z trigger to under the curve where you middle finger rest.

E Zachary Knight
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I don't see a real need to redesign the Wii Remote and Nunchuck. They seem to be at the optimal design as is. I guess there could be some improvements in wireless technology, they would not want to redesign the button layout as it would negatively affect current Wii users.

Patrick Davis
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Point is, there are certain types of games that will never lend themselves to a Wii-mote/nunchuck style control(fighting games/complex FPS/etc). Adding more buttons would just negatively affect current Wii owners as said above. So, Nintendo did the better idea of just giving the core gamers the type of controller they want.

No, it isn't moving things forward, but it certainly isn't going backwards when it is the current standard for certain game genres. If Nintendo is pushing for core gamers with this console, they just made the absolute best move they could have pulled out besides the online service.

Tony Downey
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I think Nintendo made a lot of great moves here:

- They created a controller so that multi-platform games can appear on the Wii U
- They're supporting, but not changing, the peripherals that made the Wii such a hit
- They're moving the social community into games themselves
- The Wii U's launch screen is entirely information about your friends and community
- They're bringing empathy with each other to the front of game design
- They're ensuring every game will have user generated content
- They are keeping the community immediately accessible from the main menu itself

But I can see a few possible missteps too:
- Each game seems to require a different combination of peripherals, a lot of hardware
- The Wii debuted as simple to use - the Wii U looks far more complicated than an iPad

All in all - looks good so far. Can't wait for the press event tomorrow.

Maurício Gomes
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Why I imagine turning on the Wii and seeing instead of a LOL pic, lots of penis and boob drawings?

Alex Leighton
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Yeah, letting people draw stuff and display it for everyone to see really isn't a good idea. The internet is really good at turning people into really vulgar children.

Alex Leighton
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Well, hopefully all the social crap can be turned off.. I'm super stoked to see that pro controller though! What I'm hoping for is a dirt cheap barebones system, just a pro controller, a Wii U and lots of awesome Nintendo games. I so want to be back in the big N's camp again, with Xbox becoming some bloated advertising machine and Sony just sort of not really doing anything (hopefully their press conference will change my opinion).

Bob Johnson
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The big problem is what happens in a few years when the next 360 and PS3 come out. That's where many of the big games will go.

But I guess Nintendo might be able to get 3 years worth of good sales.

And the next 360 and PS3 might be expensive and slow to start again especially the more powerful they are.

On the other hand MS and Sony can turn their current consoles into Wii U competitors without much effort. Just release a tablet version of the controller. Not sure they need much else in terms of hardware or not.

A W
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Nintendo always builds the hardware to support the heart of their software goals. I don't think just making a tablet controller will be in the cards for the other two companies existing hardware.

Christopher Plummer
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Nintendo couldn't come out at a better time.

The 360 and PS3 are showing their age. There are a few games I'm excited to see come out for them in the future, but with no new console on the horizon I'm looking elsewhere for gaming, namely PC and mobiles. Neither really turned the corner and transformed themselves into a family machine IMO; they just found ways to upsell the traditional male gamer.

I look forward to getting a family machine that will let the family play together, and it truly complements the direction I'm moving towards with PC and mobile since neither of them need the TV.


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