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Nintendo's Fils-Aime unfazed by Wii U's launch hiccups
Nintendo's Fils-Aime unfazed by Wii U's launch hiccups
December 4, 2012 | By Chris Morris

December 4, 2012 | By Chris Morris
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While the Wii U's early sales numbers are nothing to sneeze at, the launch as a whole probably could have gone smoother.

A large, mandatory system update upset many users. There were sporadic system outages. And some anticipated features were not available on day one (though several of those have launched since).

While the company's global president has apologized for some of the bumpy parts – specifically the hour-plus long mandatory system update – Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of America, takes a different approach.

While regrettable, he said in a talk with Gamasutra, the last-minute release of the patch was necessary, so the team could ensure the online functionality worked as smoothly as possible.

"Nintendo developers want to make sure that the very best product is available to consumers," he said. "That creates a dynamic where our developers are working on elements until the very last point possible. That's why the system update was required on Day One - and this is quite similar to what's happened with other consumer electronic products."

The update won't be built into the system for a while, either. Fils-Aime said that only after the patch has been on the market for a few months will Nintendo incorporate it into the firmware that ships with the system. That means it won't be until sometime in early (and perhaps spring) 2013 that Wii U buyers won't have to download and install a massive file.

Silencing the critics

The update and other problems were accompanied by something else that was unusual for Nintendo: Less than glowing critical reviews. While many spoke of the system's potential, few were effusive in their praise of the Wii U as it stands now.

Fils-Aime doesn't seem worried by the critics, though.

"Reviews of a system or review of a game really come down to the quality and capability of the reviewer," he said. "There has been a range of comments and commentary. But when I go on Miiverse and see how consumers are reacting to games like ZombiU or … Call of Duty, that tells me we're doing something very, very positive. Similarly, when I go on other consumer social networks and see other consumer reaction that is positive, I know we've done well."

The Day One downtime of the Miiverse was another unwelcome launch day surprise. Initially, Nintendo pointed to overcapacity as the reason, telling fans on Facebook: "Oops. So many Miis have jumped on Miiverse that some may be having problems connecting to the service. We are in the engine room getting it fixed!"

That led to fears that when tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of new owners open up their Wii Us on Christmas morning, there could be another, more substantial system failure.

Fils-Aime, though, said the Miiverse problems were not solely a matter of too many people trying to log on at once. (He would not go into details about what other factors contributed to the problem, however.) Come Christmas morning, he noted, Nintendo is confident there won't be a repeat of the launch troubles.

"Without getting into a lot of technical details, the Miiverse [problem] was not purely driven by capacity," he said. "That gives us confidence that come Christmas morning, those servers will not be challenged in the same way. Come Christmas morning, the Wii U will be available globally. We know there will be a lot of consumers utilizing their Wii U for the very first time. So we're working very hard to make sure the initial customer experience is a good one."

That's not to say the move to online has been a completely smooth one. Fils-Aime noted the company's online ambitions do have a learning curve.

"Every time we launch a new system, there are significant challenges," he said. "There's everything from supply to making sure the new offering meet our expectations. In the digital, connected services area, much of what we're doing is groundbreaking, so we are having to learn as we go to make sure the consumer has the very best experience possible."

Ensuring that has resulted in some delays – the most visible of which is Nintendo TVii. While it missed its touted launch day bow, Fils-Aime re-confirmed the feature will release sometime in December.

"On launch day for us, Nintendo TVii wasn't at a point where we wanted it to be," he said. "It was not the compelling innovative product we wanted it to be and we needed it to be."


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Comments


Ron Dippold
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No, no, you should be fazed. That was inexcusable. Of course it'll probably survive it, and I realize you just tossed whatever you had out the door to manufacturing in time for Thanksgiving, but that was a prime contender for worst open box experience ever.

Of course a CEO's gotta say what a CEO's gotta say. Time for the heavy mouthwash.

Merc Hoffner
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RROD? Worst product launch in living memory? I guess not.

BTW, Iwata's the CEO.

Harlan Sumgui
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revisionist history. rrod was not a launch issue. & reggie is ceo of NOA.

@ron, yeah, Reggie's spinning pretty hard. "COD/Batman grfx dramatically better on wiiu than xbox360 or ps3" on CNN comes to mind.

Thom Q
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Harlan: I'd be very surprised if they don't look better. Dramaticly better would ofcourse be PC on Ultra, but I feel the Wii U should at least be somewhere at 30% between xbox/playstation as a minimum and a PC on Ultra as maximum..

Joe Zachery
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Do we really want to play who had the better launch here.
Tony Hawk's American Wasteland a launch game on 360 a quote from Gamespot
If you already have the PS2 or Xbox version of Tony Hawk's American Wasteland, don't bother getting the Xbox 360 version. The game looks and plays exactly like the other versions released on older platforms, except the 360 version forces you into a widescreen mode. The 360 gamepad's new shoulder buttons do help with control, but it isn't worth shelling out the extra $10 for the 360 version of the game. Playing in HD doesn't improve the game much either since it exposes the simple character models and glitchy environment bugs.
http://www.gamespot.com/features/xbox-vs-xbox-360-do-you-really-n
eed-hd-6140621/

Then let us not forget the great PR from Sony during the launch of the PS3.
Ken Kutaragi’s infamous utterance of “You will need 2 jobs and work over time to afford the PS3” How about the if you find a PS3 on the shelf we will pay you 1000 per system. Then Penny Arcade found like 20 systems with pictures, but Sony never cut that check!

So please let's not act like the Wii U is the worst launch in history. It's following the bad standard set by consoles before it.

Merc Hoffner
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If RROD was not a launch issue then what was it? Persisting systemic failure? Doesn't that sound even worse?

Launch is not quite a finite thing. It's unfair to cover the launch of the Wii U and determine it a logistical failure after a week when it's not even out in two territories, just as it's unfair to look at the first fortnight of the 360 and determine it a rip roaring success.

http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=red+ring+of+death+xbox+360&hl=en
&lr=&safe=active&sa=X&ei=y_m9UK_wN9SKhQf9w4CoAg&ved=0CB8QpwUoBg&s
ource=lnt&tbs=cdr%3A1%2Ccd_min%3A1%2F1%2F2005%2Ccd_max%3A31%2F12%
2F2005&tbm=

Seen as it was an emergent phenomenon, it's hardly gonna have a clearly delineated start and so it may feel like it occurred afterwards, but it was literally baked in on day one, there was plenty of evidence of an emerging systemic issue as early as launch day, and with hindsight we now know this early evidence wasn't merely anecdotal. Add to that the massive undershipment in the US, ridiculous undershipment in Europe, overshipment in Japan and apparently much deeper than anticipated manufacturing issues (http://www.joystiq.com/2005/12/28/xbox-360-costs-715-to-make/) and I think it's fair to say it was a bit of a balls up. Microsoft would agree, as pretty heavy unprojected sustained losses over this period and one time special write down to cover extraordinary failures (and subsequent investigation of their division leader for insider trading of the same) will attest.

BTW according to Wikipedia Reggie is COO and President of NOA. Tatsumi Kimishima is apparently CEO of NOA - I didn't know that.

EDIT: I thought copying that google search would copy the time restrictions - it didn't. Be clear, there appear to be many pages of RROD issues dated Nov 22 onwards.

David Holmin
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CEO talk is CEO talk, but I don't see why people make such noise about the update. Waiting for one hour one time isn't that big of a deal. I let it run while cooking dinner.

Harlan Sumgui
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@Christian. When evaluating the success or lack thereof of a launch, you look at things like customer satisfaction metrics, brand awareness, sell-through rate, etc during the launch period (roughly nov-dec); not console design or things that happen 6 months down the road, unless of course, you have an agenda.

Ron Dippold
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I said 'open box experience'. The experience you get when you bring the device home, open it, and hopefully just take it out and use it and everything works perfectly without even reading the manual. Apple is good at this. The Wii U was a really bad experience - giant download that took hours, wouldn't automatically connect to Wifi, had to go in and manually configure the networking (I know not everyone was hit by this, but their network code is also very beta).

RROD was a disaster, but not generally something you ran into at the time of unboxing.

Ron Dippold
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Okay, fine, I guess you're fixated on turning this thing into a X360 vs Wii U thing. For what it's worth I expect the X720 and PS4 will have the same thing (mandatory large day zero patch), because now it's okay.

Joe Wreschnig
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@Christian,

1) Unless you have an American Wii U console I don't think your experiences are relevant - I also had no problems on German launch day, but friends in the US, on North American launch day, waited 4+ hours and one was repeatedly disconnected. It was also not obvious you could download it in the background (you do so by clicking "Cancel", not e.g. "Download in Background"). Then there is also a separate Nintendo Land update; smaller, but the last thing I wanted to see right after doing the big one.

2) One Xbox 360 failing on launch day provides no useful data about the manufacturing error which would become known as "the" RROD, as its nature required an Xbox 360 to undergo many high/low temperature cycles before appearing. The actual red ring is just an error code indicator and covers a wide range of boot problems that can occur. It's a meaningless anecdote, unless you're claiming absolutely *zero* Wii Us failed on launch day?

I agree with Ron - the Wii U *out of the box* experience was one of the worst I've had. It wasn't smooth and friendly like activating an iOS device, and it wasn't technically/visually amazing like the first time I saw a PS2 or Xbox 360. It wasn't worse than setting up a new PC - but it wasn't better either, and I play on consoles specifically because I ran out of patience for that kind of crap in my entertainment years ago. (And it's probably not as bad as the 3DS XLs without power adapters! That takes the prize.)

Joe Wreschnig
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@Christian,

"the german market is at least as big as the US market, most probably bigger, when it comes to Nintendo."

I would love to see numbers to back this up. Whole of Europe? Sure, depending on how you slice the data. Germany? A third of the population with a higher median age and less nostalgia for NESs and SNESs, I can't believe it's possible.

"I agree with you, it could have been made more clear, that the Wii U updates in the background, I thought so, because it's the same on the 3DS, but not everybody has a 3DS."

I've had a 3DS since launch but I've never had my 3DS prompt for system updates before downloading them, as the Wii U did (afaict Nintendo always pushes them at night). The 3DS eShop button specifically says "Background Mode".

"About the RROD, nobody knows for sure, what is causing it"

Bullshit. It was long speculated and subsequently documented that it's a detached heatsink caused by repeated heating/cooling of the non-lead-based solder.

"we all can only measure the result and that was, that there were RROD 360s in the first 24 hours after launch."

Again, the red ring, as an artifact, is simply *any error halting boot*. You can force one by turning on the console when no video output is plugged in! That's not "the" RROD. It's just a dead console. Crappy, yes, but not evidence of a widespread problem, and demonstrably unrelated to the known pandemic. For all we know, 50% of Wii Us are going to up and die in 3-12 months too.

Joe Wreschnig
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@Christian, Somewhat-unrelated:

"Setting up the Wii U meant making a Mii"

Actually this is a pretty good example to bring up a concrete thing.

Importing my Mii from my 3DS wasn't "hard", in the sense the process was spelled out accurately on the various screens, it transferred, and I got my Mii on my Wii. It was, however, completely unnecessary. My 3DS is constantly broadcasting my Mii to anything within one mall food court's width of me. But I still had to navigate two nested menus on two different devices.

Was it "hard"? Was it "difficult"? No. It was a thing I "had to do", like charging the controller. It was a reminder that Nintendo is bad at connecting. It missed a chance to surprise me, to say "hey, check this out, the future is cool!" Instead of the delight of my new magic box doing some magic, I got the rote unpleasantness of having to use a computing device in a way not unlike swapping floppies for an install in 1992.

Joe Wreschnig
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"Sounds like nitpicking to me"

It's not nitpicking, it's daring to want my machines-that-exemplify-automation to automate more things. It's what I have them for! It's exactly the kind of thing StreetPass is supposed to do! It's 2012, and I didn't get my flying cars but I did get my ubiquitous networked devices so let's start using them! Nintendo's brand, like Apple's, is associated with exactly that kind of attention to small detail. The 3DS at launch had a lot of problems, but it also had a lot of great small touches. The Wii U has a lot of problems, and not a whole lot of small touches.

"I think it's quite possible, that in "one mall food court's width" of you there could be several 3DS, so how should the Wii U decide which Mii should be tied to your account?""

Come on, think for ten seconds.
- If there's only one, and often there will be only one, it's not a problem at all
- Use a camera and the algorithms you already have to turn a face into a Mii (itself a previous "magic" feature)
- "Tap your Mii"

Your attitude is basically "look, it meets the baseline level of functionality." And yes, it does. But that's not a good attitude to make people want what you're selling, and it's not a good attitude if you're trying to make something that makes people happy. "Wii U: Basically, It's Adequate" doesn't entice me.

Ron Dippold
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'"a prime contender for worst open box experience ever" because that is blowing things completely out of proportion'

No it is not. It is required for everyone who buys it. It's not an optional thing (unless you want to run disconnected from the internet with barely functional console) or a rare thing like your X360 being RRoDed when you buy it (instead of later, nearing the 100% failure rate). This is a planned 1 gig (as of tonight 1.6 gig) download out of the box.

It is a very bad out of box experience, and the only way in which it's even defensible is that you've been so trained to expect this kind of thing from games and Windows and the PS3 that you just go 'eh, okay, that's the way it is for EVERYTHING, what are you complaining about?' And you have broadband, a router that the Wii U likes to get DHCP addresses from, and responsive Nintendo servers, which is certainly not the case for everyone.

What I'm mostly concerned with is that game industry standards are now so low that we're just like some guy pissing in the sink and his roomies nod their heads because the toilet is just too filthy. Whether or not it's 'worst evar' this should not be acceptable, much less just normal business plan as it was here.

Thom Q
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Its a 1gig file, right? Also, it ran in the background correct? Im guessing the connection to the nintendo servers was poor, causing people to have to download it at 200kbps, because otherwise I don't really see the problem.

Also, out of all the reviews & lets plays, I'm getting the feeling that the main resistance against the Wii-U comes from the industry itself? For example, look at Gamespots ZombiU review score, and then the metacritic and user score..

Peter Wysoczanski
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its funny that people complain about launch day when we all know every system has had its issues on launch day...

Thom Q
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Dario, you missed the point.. i gave that as an example of discrepancies between the public and the industries views on the Wii-U.. The feeling i'm getting is that the skepticism & negativity comes mostly from the industry, not the public. Sorry, not the 'plebs', as you would call them..

Eric Geer
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I agree with Thom. The resistance seems to always come from the industry when it comes to Nintendo. As much as the Wii was loathed by industry reviewers---it went on to just keep on selling.

As for Metacritic. I don't really even bother with the industry reviewers anymore---only really trust destructoid or EGM(multiple reviews). User reviews are where it's at. There's more of them and you can get better trending--but also much more truthful feedback about the game. It may be gibberish sometimes...but sometimes that's what you need.

"Before and after launch IGN has had splash pages for games like Zombi U" Don't get support mixed up with advertisement.

A W
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In all fairness the game ZombiU (a Wii U exclusive) is an experiment on what you can do from an asymmetrical social level, much in the vein of Demon Souls I'm guessing. It's just not as hard as that game. Just a note: most games that are console starters get low reviews. ZombiU is surprisingly high for being a systems first averaging about 75.

Ron Dippold
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No, it did not run in the background. Unless you knew how to trick it - which I didn't find out till the next day.

'I don't really see the problem'

Is this also just an industry thing? We now just /expect/ to ship unfinished, provide a big day zero patch, then a continuing series of fixes for a few months till it's finally done and you work on the next major revamp? Assassin's Creed III also suggests this is the case - an AAA title that shipped buggy as hell to hit a deadline.

To be clear, once you get it patched it's okay (still a little rough, but I assume they'll smooth that too), but this was very clearly a schedule driven launch and not a 'the product is ready' launch. My negativity is not about the console itself, just that it was purposely shipped unfinished. But maybe that's a lost battle.

Eric Geer
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I feel bad for those people that buy consoles and don't have access. Their gaming experiences must be terrible. ( but those people are well forgotten any how)

A W
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@ Ron

Welcome to HD gaming.

Ron Dippold
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@ A W: So yes, the industry has just given up.

Well, at least it's only games.

A W
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You want to know what was a Fiasco? Getting the update for MGO2 before getting the update for MGO2. It took my PS3 all night to update that game and then after the update was complete and the restart happened I was welcomed to a second mandatory update that took just as long. Some friends and I bought the game around launch, and when we where going to dedicate that night to play online, that's when when where treated to the updates. That was a big let down from a major game company.

Now the Wii U update took about 20 mins out of the box, and I was up and playing the games after their install updates with in the hour it hit my living-room. So Reggie is right. This is new territory for them and they are managing it well despite all of the uproar of the entitled gamer and their respective biased journalist hangouts.

The Wii U was doomed right as it hit the market according to most, and is just not as capable as most would like because the ports run just as good as the games on the PS3 and Xbox360. Now we got people (some claiming to be journalist in the gaming media) telling us that somehow Microsoft and Sony are going to produce consoles up to 10 times more capable than the Wii U and it will be out by next Christmas for a low price. And fools eat this garbage up.

Ardney Carter
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Not exactly on topic, I know, but I'm gonna call it right now:" There will be no PS4 next year. Not with Sony's financial issues.

E Zachary Knight
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Why is everyone complaining about the WiiU update? Doesn't the PS3 still have an hour long update every other week?

Ujn Hunter
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Wish Nintendo would make it clear that the Updates will download and install in the background if you hit the "Start Software" button. I was afraid the updates were PS3 bad until I realized I could play while the Wii U did everything in the background.

A W
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Don't Know @E Zack, but I did just give an example of a PS3 DL that was frustrating during the game launch.

Good point @Cameron

BTW @Ujn Youtube vids are surfacing of people finding out stuff the Wii U can do that Nintendo failed to mention. Like being able to use SD card readers in The USB that will allow an SD card to act as HDD for saving DLC games. SD card readers are extremely cheap these days.

Merc Hoffner
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@ Cameron

I don't have one yet, but I'm pretty sure you can still put a game in and play Wii U right away. I'm also pretty sure you had to get an update for the Wii before you could use much of its extra curricular activity.

Bob Allen
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You're right that PS3 updates are overly long and annoying, but even the PS3 didn't have a gigabyte update required out-of-the-box during its launch. Every consumer buying a Wii U for the next four months (probably more) will have this issue. Plus the "average" user isn't going to know about the trick to make it download in the background. Nintendo shouldn't strive to have an online experience that is simply "no worse" than the PS3.

Ian Uniacke
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We used our Wii U out of the box (partly because of our home network set up that requires me to find out the mac address to connect to wifi, which delayed me connecting to the internet). The update is only required to use online functionality so the widespread media reporting is largely false.

Matt Robb
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Why is everyone complaining about the stale bread? Doesn't the other company still push moldy bread every other week?

John Flush
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Whine whine whine, bitch bitch bitch. Isn't this is the industry norm anymore? I can barely turn on the Xbox and put in a game without another update of something. It wouldn't even surprise me if the Wii U forced someone to make an online account, and avatar, and such to just get going anymore.

It should be a given that the first hour of your life in a new console or game is wasted - updates / patches / DLC / Inputting On-line one use codes / etc... just get use to being shat on by the industry or move on.

Kenneth Wesley
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Yes, the updates seems to suck for most people in general. For some reason, I just can't say it bothered me. I just turned the TV to a football game while the downloads was monitored on the Gamepad. If load times and updates are such a pain, then I should have quit gaming somewhere around 1999.

I don't wanna give excuses for everything not being ready outside the box, but everything I like using, tech wise, takes some time to get set up right. I remember how much the gaming press was furious at Valve for releasing Steam with Half-Life 2. Updates are gonna happen and they are gonna be long. That iOS 6 update took forever (which is now measured as an hour) as well.

And I don't think its bad to expect Nintendo's online set up to stumble a bit out of the gate when they have to deal with the technical parts of an online infrastructure, something that's not their bag. But for what it's worth, the updates mean that Nintendo will actually look to improve their system digitally over time. It means the Shop could look and be navigated differently than it is right now.

Ron Dippold
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This is kind of what I'm upset about. Not that there was a launch issue - there will always be launch issues. But that your expectations have been sufficiently lowered that we think it's fine that games need gigantic zero day patches to be playable and now that even hardware needs a gigantic zero day patch to be usable.

There's also been a lot of confounding of 'launch issue'. This wasn't a launch issue that happened because they hit some untested case or didn't have enough server capacity (the usual culprits), this was a planned launch issue.

I may be particularly touchy about this because I got hit with both this and AC III (a bug riddled mess even /after/ the large patch) at the same time. But it's more that the game industry's so given up on even the pretense of software engineering to prevent these problems, triage them, and deal with them properly.

Kenneth Wesley
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@Ron: It didn't say it was fine, I just wasn't gonna whine over it in the big scheme of things. Online makes everything a bit trickier and as someone who's worked on a bunch of games with online capabilities, it's never gonna be perfect. Not saying its excusable, but it sure as hell isn't easy or perfect, otherwise-no one will have to do it.

Planned launch issues doesn't always mean something was broken out of the gate and a bugfix went in all the time. They didn't turn on their network until the weekend before.

And you don't know what my entire expectations are, so please don't get upset by it.

Ron Dippold
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I'm not upset at you specifically, just the idea that you can plan to ship broken. Which they did. And that that's okay. Because it's only games. And that we shouldn't even frown at them for planning to ship broken. Because it's only games. It doesn't bother you because your standards have been relentlessly lowered to nothing by everyone in the industry.

That's throughout this entire thread. You guys have entirely given up on the idea that something needs to work to be released. And I don't even mean 'We didn't bother QAing it enough and didn't find this edge case' (I've been there), I mean 'We KNOW it doesn't work, and we know we can't make it work to hit the deadline, but we're releasing it anyhow.'

Jarod Smiley
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Nintendo went from having Wii Codes and system as powerful as Gamecube competing with PS3/360. I welcome all the strives they are making in the online space, as well as there commitment to games. Patience...

goes a long way.

Jamie Roberts
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"Everything is amazing and nobody is happy."

Bob Johnson
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Lol. Ain't that the truth.

Geoff Yates
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The thing is we are all technologists and gamers so the update for us is normal. However as i said in another thread it took LG a number of updates to my new LCD before it actually fulfilled its promises.

Personally I think its poor form to expect a kid to open a present and than wait up to 1hour before playing. Yes, it will be forgotten one day but the problem with the connected world is we have a patch it just get it out there attitude.

Nintendo prides itself on quality and experience an yet it delves into the same practices as it competitors.

I for one don't like people like Reggie. They are dismissive, arrogant and generally belligerent people. To be honest I'd like Nintendo more if they had a better person in its PR department.

wes bogdan
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Rrod was such an issue that ms eventuially removed the RED diod so it couldn't show a rrod but ninty's wii u has some issues as well :day 1 dump and reinstall ,the incredibly slow splash screens even going from system settings to the dash takes far too long and what happened to the 802:11 n's blazing 900mbps i feel like i'm crawling @ 11mbps wireless b. Where are the demo's of games i blind bought nano assault neo unfortunatly it lacks southpaw and i'm forced to send the game to the pad and play holding it upside down then i get southpaw.

If you don't send the game to the pad both flight and guns get inverted but when the active screen is on the pad the controls are fine though worse still i haven't been able to get my gamester phoenix revolution or the superior thrustmaster 3-1 dual trigger to work on wii u meaning any dual analog game on wii u is unplayable.

If everyone used my version of southpaw on wii u i'd be golden.

I'd flip x/up ,y/left,b/down and a/right so when looking with the left stick my face buttons would be placed corectly as no one's reaching back across the gamepad to use them.

Next of course i'd use inverted up/down vertical aiming and be looking with left and moveing on right stick this means the real face buttons become your d-pad and i also keep zoom on the freelook side because it seems wierd walking and pushing right shoulder to zoom that's why the freelook stick is aiming so in either default or southpaw zooming should be on the freelook side.

Lastly whenever it's offered i prefer toggling crouch or zoom rather than oops finger slipped stand up and die or now i'm no longer zoomed in and can't claim that sweet headshot.

I originally used the phoenix revolution to design full southpaw and really refined it on thrustmaster's 3-1 dual trigger butagain

wes bogdan
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Nook line jumped and what i was saying is without my custom scheme i simply can't play dual analog or twin stick shooters ...with regards to twin stick games i need non inverted aiming because while playing 3rd-1st person games i can't do without it pointing up and fireing down doesn't work in a twin stick game so that's the exception with inverted aim.

Ron Dippold
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So taking a step back, since I know I've been posting scattershot all over, there just seems to be a really serious disconnect here between consumers and creators (as Thom Q noted).

As consumers, yes, we can say 'It's Nintendo, I can put up with a little hassle because I love Nintendo and I know they'll get me some Miyamoto games eventually' (as with Jarod, and that's fine). And consumers will put up with a hell of a lot - just look at Facebook. I bought a Wii U on this same promise, and I don't think the out of box update is going to kill it.

But if you're actually involved in making stuff, and you care about your art, it seems like you need to step back from this and ask yourself if a descent to the minimum viable quality is a good thing. This is supposed to be a place for craftspeople to talk about the craft of making games. The thread consensus that you can just toss something out knowing it's bad and patch it later, that this is your plan of record, because it's minimum inconvenience to those of us with broadband, really horrifies me. (It's okay if you make it really clear to savvy users, like Minecraft - heck it's a business model). As a consumer I can live with it, as a producer I'd be horribly ashamed.

I'd like to think that's where people in the industry being more negative comes in - the vague sense that universally embracing low standards will eventually bite everyone in the ass. I'd also like to think that you can defend the Wii U as pragmatism: Maybe they really felt they had to get it out by Thanksgiving, not Christmas, for business reasons. I believe this is actually the conscious decision they made ('getting out by US Thanksgiving is worth shipping with 1 to 5 gig zero-day patch'). Hell, it is the decision they made! Reggie said so. That's defensible! But that certainly hasn't been where the comments have gone. If you can't even take that step back and look at it with an engineering eye you end up like IO Interactive and their marketing people.

I do apologize for posting so much in this thread (I am feeling embarrassed about the volume), but I feel strongly about good games (and good utilities and software in general) and also feel very strongly that you've at least got to try for quality, and if you can't justify that that you can at least explain the business reasons why that's not possible. 'Everyone else does it and it only took me 30 minutes' is justification, not reason.

Bob Johnson
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The internets was going to complain no matter what. Delay the console and people would complain about that.

Don't they have their heads in the sand? Consoles can be patched nowadays. Why delay the whole thing. Why break your promise of the launch date? I pre-ordered. What? What? It is delayed over a 5 gb patch? You gotta be kidding. Just let me download the dumb patch. That would take a whole hour. What? Nintendo doesn't know consoles can do this? We have been doing this since 2005 on consoles. Yeah great decision. Now I have no console. And GameStop has my money. Stupid Nintendo. ...thinks I am too dumb to download a patch.


Tom Baird
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@Ron
But I think some of these complaints show a lack of understanding the extent of the construction process.

It's not like manufacturing, assembling, and distribution of a console worldwide is a 1 week process, and we don't really know what was fixed in the large update. No matter how confident you are in your code, things can crop up post-deadline.

Similar to what Bob said, when they find an improvement to their system between deadline and launch day, they can either A) Halt all production and distribution, recall all systems back to update them before redistributing them again with a significant time and money cost, or B) Produce a day 1 update, not lose a TON of money on recall for the update and keep all their release date promises.

You can complain about the implications of B, the lack of integrity and confidence in the original release, but for both consumers and for Nintendo it's still better than A.

Without knowing what the 1 gig patch fixed, and therefore getting a better understanding about the quality of the OS at the manufacturing deadline, you can't really say that the original, pre-patch OS was of bad quality, just that it could have been made better, and was done so expediently, if in a somewhat annoying fashion.

The fact that a patch exists doesn't mean the previous version was of bad quality, it simply means that (hopefully) they found an area that could be improved, and so you can't make any assumptions about the OS version you never actually got to use based on the fact that a patch exists for it.

Kenneth Wesley
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@Tom-Exactly. Updates and changes don't necessarily mean something was broken.

@Ron-There was something I studied in an English class about writing persuasive essays. There was a concept called 'unattainable perfection'. Where someone sees a flaw, a flaw that actually exists for a reason, and decides to lord it over something as always bad. This is what some of the naysaying sounds like. 'You have to download an update, therefore the Wii U is a failure'. They way you put, Nintendo deliberately forgot something on purpose just to sell it. And as someone who's worked on software for bug publishers, it's not as black and white as you want to make it. How many games, hell, any software or hardware had had to get updated at some point to fix flaws in it, if that wasn't the case, then nothing will ever get updated.

And no one is lowering standards or being a bad consumer or lowering quality by having to update their stuff and being okay with it. I thought it was okay to enjoy something in spite of the flaws.

Ron Dippold
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Hmmm, this is pretty much what I was talking about. I work on products that can hurt people if we aren't careful, but if it's just games it's okay if it's broken at launch.

This was in no way whatsoever 'unattainable perfection'. It just wasn't in the business plan.

I am not saying the Wii U is a failure. I bought one. And yes they deliberately 'forgot' something on purpose just to sell it it. Did you even read what he said? They purposely launched with incomplete firmware to be sure it would be out by Thanksgiving.

Apparently once you say 'it's only games' you've got carte blanche to release crap with the reassurance that you can just finish it later. As a consumer I am perfectly willing to put up with flaws, but as a craftsman it drives me up a wall how apparently little concern the hacks who make games have for quality and engineering. [I'm pretty sure Miyamoto wasn't involved here, I know he's legendary for quality concerns].

I'd be perfectly willing to go with 'We had to launch by Thanksgiving, so f#$% quality. The internet means we can always release something working later.' But so far I've been the only person (other than Reggie) to admit that's what happened.

Tom, they did not find something later that was broken and decide to launch anyhow, they decided in advance to just launch with whatever they had even though they knew it wasn't ready. This is in TFA.

Leon T
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In in the US and got a Wii U at launch. I didn't know I could download the update in the background so I let it run while did other stuff. It is what I do whenever I have to an update on any device, because why would you sit there and just wait for it to finish. With the games it was more clear that I can just select the start software option and the update continued in the backgroud. The updates were no big deal.

The OS is slow, but that is how I remember the Wii, 360, and PS3 starting out as too. In fact the 360 OS is still slow to me. The slow OS and updates are the only two issues I had to deal with. I thought I had a hardlock when going to a website, but later on that same site locked up my PC. Nothing similiar has happened since.

People trying to paint this launch as bad as RROD are just sad. No launch is great imo, because launch buyers are beta testers. This is not a great launch but it is not terrible either.It is a pretty fun console to use for just about everything it does.

Justin LeGrande
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In the old days, increasing amounts of content available within cartridges were patched in before sale using nifty hardware additions which did not change the core console. Examples of cartridges built using these hardware techniques included SNES games like Star Fox or Donkey Kong Country, and Genesis games like Phantasy Star 4 or Vectorman. This would potentially increase the price of the product. Even when the hardware containing software products became increasingly standardized, using disc formats, patches were still an all-or-nothing software accountability affair, usually taking place before release. This forced developers, producers, and publishers to account for this limitation of technology.

Now that those limitations are being overcome, the methods of dodging those limitations are being exploited more often than need be. Greed, instead of need, is the reason for the Wii U's sort of rush job. Yet, greed, instead of need, can also potentially be the reason for not rushing. It's difficult to say what constitutes good morals on this matter...

What is certain, however, is that the economies of transporting game products, especially software, are indeed being exploited. Many games are charged the same through online venues as retail venues, even though taking out the physical middlemen SHOULD decrease the overall cost of the product for the consumer. Many MSRP 60$ games online should be lowered to MSRP 45$ to account for this... Manipulations of end-user value by turning attention away from transportation economies are surely not morally acceptable.

I suspect those manipulations may have been accounted for, by being linked to certain upkeep processes applied to full-priced products, such as paid DLC, zero-day DLC, and zero-day patches... Hence, why those processes are implemented.

Matt Cratty
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"Reviews of a system or review of a game really come down to the quality and capability of the reviewer," he said.

Are you serious?

Lousy reviews are also frequently indicative of less than stellar products.

Justin LeGrande
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On the other hand, excellent reviews which throw gratuitous praise can also be used to mask fundamentally flawed or deeply unbalanced products. Just look at Civilization 5. It's taken 2 years since it's 2010 release to mold it into a product worthy of the nearly across-the-board 7/10, 8/10, or 9/10 reviews it got at release in the "professional" reviews. Meanwhile, it originally got about 3/10, 4/10, and 5/10 average from user reviews...

Or, the reviewer might not be able to connect with a product's design. Until Monster Hunter Tri and Freedom Unite were released, the Monster Hunter series was generally not critically reviewed well in the USA, with many "professional" scores being 5/10, 6/10 or 7/10, yet the user reviews often put them at 7/10, 8/10, or 9/10. Sometimes, lousy reviews are a sign that the reviewer doesn't understand the goals of a product's design in correlation with the intended audience; or the reviewer did not grasp certain gameplay mechanics and/or personally did not like a product's concepts.

So yes, accurate reviews of a product DO come down to the capabilities of the reviewer.


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