Objection: Has The US Wii U Launch Changed Your Opinion Of The Wii U?

It's been a tough day in the office for Nintendo. The US launch hasn't entirely gone to plan, the online situation is... grim. But will Nintendo get these issues sorted out in time for the Australian launch, and have the troubles in the US affected your decision to pick up the console locally? We discuss all this and more with Daniel 'Vook' Vuckovic.

MARK: It doesn’t look good Vook – the US launch of the Wii U has been... let’s go for the understatement and say ‘troubled’. There’s the massive day one patch, the strange 50 cent charge to verify credit cards details, and then there’s the neogaf user who somehow accidentally managed to access a debug menu on a retail console.

Tough day at the office for Nintendo.

The Wii U hasn’t even launched here in Australia, but have all these day one woes impacted your thinking when it comes to the potential success of the console here in Australia, or do you expect most of these issues to be fixed in the next couple of weeks?

VOOK: The events and problems that have transpired since the Wii U was launched in America have been a little troubling, if not more disappointing to this Nintendo fan. Sure, no launch is perfect but Nintendo has a lot of problems on their hands that have to be rectified and fast.

It's probably too early to judge how this will impact the system's long term success in Australia (or anywhere in the world) but the initial experience, that first impression of the Wii U is a terrible one. You buy this console, take it out the box and before you can even use it properly online you're waiting upwards of an hour for the system to download (then install) and unlock all of the main features. That's an hour by American internet standards, what about when it launches here? Our internet is mostly terrible; some people have terrible download caps as well.

In a year's time, it won't matter, but now -- at launch when they have to make that first impression? It's not setting a good precedent.

MARK: Nintendo has always made slow, deliberate steps when it comes to online and it almost feels as though what Nintendo has attempted with the Wii U, at launch, has been a step too far. It's typical of Nintendo's usual online shenanigans -- clunky, ill-considered -- but on a far grander scale.

With online, Nintendo has a remarkable gift -- in its attempt to make things user friendly it ends up making its devices way more cluttered. Ridiculously backwards steps like friend codes exemplify this, but Nintendo continues to make the same mistakes.

Tethering accounts to one single device for example. What's the point of an account system if it can't be transferred? That's utterly ludicrous, but completely par for the course when you consider Nintendo's attitude towards online in previous consoles.

Nintendo excels at building online systems that completely ignore the good precedents set by other services. There's a time and place for marching to the beat of one's own drum, but sacrificing user experience out of a strange stubbornness is destructive.

VOOK: In all fairness, friend codes are finally dead. You can add friends, and follow people just like you can on Xbox Live and Twitter respectively. Yes everyone else has been doing it for years. It's the standard and we shouldn't really award Nintendo anything for finally choosing to do it that way but it is a positive move.

However, for each positive step that the Wii U has made online, the lack of friend codes, Miiverse, friend messaging, the screenshot tool, writing and drawing to communicate. There's still issues like you mentioned; things that are just plain weird.

Your download account shouldn't be tied to a console; it should be well tied to your account. Apple, Google, Sony, Microsoft, Steam and every digital download service in the world does this. Nintendo's the only one not doing this. Why is this a thing?

Why is there a video chat application, but not a voice one that runs through the system? There's enough RAM to do it. If you're opening the doors to communication with text and drawings why is voice that much worse? People have been talking on the phone since 1892; it's not a foreign concept.

Mark you're right, Nintendo have the right to do whatever they want online. We shouldn't expect them to just duplicate Steam, Xbox Live or PSN. It wouldn't fit, they've done their own thing but at the sacrifice of some 'standards' that exist in the digital world.

At least the system plays games just fine, even if you download an update for each one.

MARK: When you begin the defence of a modern games console with the world "at least the system plays games just fine" and finish that sentence with a caveat, you know things aren't exactly going to plan!

And that's the problem with the Wii U really, it's attempted to stretch itself in response to consumer demands and a rapidly changing media landscape. So far Nintendo seems to have come up short. With the Wii U online integration was always going to be a massive question mark -- doubters were waiting and watching for things to go wrong, to reaffirm that things really haven't changed and it's difficult to argue with them at this point.

It's a little unfair in a sense. Both the Xbox 360 and the PS3 had teething problems at launch, and it's to be expected, but nowadays people expect more from online services and more from their consoles. For sure Nintendo will be able to tidy things up, but at what cost? How have these launch day woes affected the opinions of people who were already cynical about the Wii U?

VOOK: Some people are going to cynical about anything Nintendo puts out, more so if it's got the Wii name. People have preconceived notions about what Nintendo now is and you are never going to change those people's minds.

Every system will have teething problems, it's up to Nintendo now to correct what they can as soon as possible. They need to or they'll have another Nintendo 3DS situation.

It's funny, just two days ago everyone I spoke to, apart from the usual cynics, had at least a mostly positive outlook on the Wii U. Everything was falling into place, but now the reality of launch has forced myself and others to take a step back and reassess where the system is at. I'm still excited for the Wii U, I want play one for more than 20 minutes. It has to be experienced to be able to be judged. In six years, hopefully we can look back on the Wii U and think, well that was alright.

MARK: I've found myself playing Nintendo apologist multiple times -- among friends, among gamers, on Kotaku. I count the GameCube as one of my favourite consoles of all time and despite the fact it was never really my main console of choice, I was happy to have the Wii there for games like Super Mario Galaxy, Donkey Kong Country Returns, Skyward Sword, et al.

It's strange how the things I love about Nintendo also happen to represent what frustrates me -- that stubbornness, that commitment to doing things one specific way. That focus on games, on design -- I always root for Nintendo's success, I can't help it.

That said, Nintendo has an uphill struggle with the Wii U. The world is a very different place compared to six years ago, and while Nintendo has made several concessions in an attempt to cater to that new landscape, it might not be enough.

But it's almost impossible to say at this point. Hopefully in a couple of weeks tings will be ironed out for the Australian launch, but I have my doubts.


    All these negative reports are a little disheartening, but as pointed out, has there ever been a launch of a new hardware or OS that went problem-free? Just this year, we've had Windows 8 and iOS 6 launch a little rockily; the Vita is still struggling; games like Diablo 3, Guild Wars 2, etc etc had server connectivity issues.
    I'm not too worried, Nintendo are making several big (albeit late) steps at once, and it doesn't seem more problematic than other launches.
    It hasn't really tainted my enthusiasm for what the hardware can actually do.

      I don't remember much in the way of problems for the GameCube or DS launches... :P

        No online or software updates, nothing to cause problems.

          Then the solution is clear!

          No online or software updates
          exactly. they had to get it right the first go.

        I remember that at the Gamecube Australian launch, Nintendo didn't release the high-capacity memory card until several months later. And when they did, it cost like 2x the US price. It was absolutely insulting.

          As far as I can remember, the 251-block card didn't exist at any of the launches, it wasn't just absent for ours. It wasn't really necessary because none of the games used all that much space and being a new machine, there weren't that many of them around to warrant so much storage space.

          Also back then didn't *everything* cost 2x the US price? :P

    I think these problems are going to be read as Nintendo still being deaf to why the market wants the things it does; Nintendo's strategy has been to deliberately force people to re-evaluate what their expectations are, but in the case of the Wii line their 'core' audience has had very good reasons for the features they want that aren't really replicated by what Nintendo provides. It's certainly not going to help that Nintendo is, if history is any indication, continue to make it a hassle for third party developers compared to the competing platforms. I'm not confident that Nintendo's changed; I'm sort of expecting history to repeat, with a Nintendo platform mostly a wasteland after year two. The thing to watch for is available middleware and third-party integration of the Nintendo Network and Miis.

    Bah. You lose intelligence if you go to neogaf.

    It seems like Nintendo hasn't learned much....

    I wasn't planning on buying a Wii U until next year anyway so it hasn't really affected me too much, but some of the things that've come out today have taken away a lot of my hype (the accounts tied to the console, mainly).

    I'm remaining optimistic, though. I'm sure it all won't look so bad a few months down the track. Launch-day woes.

    I'm hoping it's going to all be sorted out by the time it releases here. At this point I'm pretty disappointed, and I probably won't get one until SSB4, Metroid or Zelda has concrete information. Some of the reports like the slow RAM is disheartening because it's not something that can be fixed.

    Having said that, I'm probably one of the few here who was very happy with the Wii and even if Nintendo's online sucks and third party support falls flat again, I would still probably greatly enjoy what the Wii U offers. For the current price, functionality and game availability it looks pretty grim to me.

    I dont think Kotaku are talking about the wii u enough :/

      It's just been released...take it easy

      Still seems less than Gizmodo whenever anything Apple-related happens :P

      You realise it's launch day, right?

    The size of this patch is a bit concerning. It would normally take me about 2 hours to download 5gb, plus then you have to factor in that downloading anything on a Nintendo console is the most painfully slow experience you'll ever encounter, and I'm looking at possibly 3 or more hours to download a bloody patch just so I can properly use the thing. Not good.

    Wouldn't Nintendo know that they want to create a buzz and some excitement for when you get home with your new Wii U and turn it on? Instead of getting people excited they're just going to completely deflate everybody by the time the patch has downloaded.

    I love Nintendo and their games are second to none, but I don't think they're entirely sure of what they're doing.

    Not remotely interested in this console at all.

    PC, Xbox, Playstation.

    Wii U for kids

      Wii U for kids

      Here we go :l

      Not remotely interested in this console at all

      And anything you say next about it means next to nothing.

      Interested enough to post a comment in here though.

    Interestingly, tethering your account to a device is exactly what the Japanese chat application 'line' does. Same with friend codes. Must be a stubborn Japanese custom

    Still in a wait and see mode on the Wii U for me. High hopes, but shallow pockets over the next few months means it would have to show me something pretty special for me to splash the cash.

    I'm still really looking forward to it, I'm sure that Nintendo will fix most of the problems

    Stil looking forward to the launch - im just thankful that the Yanks get to smash their heads against the wall of the first 2 weeks till we get it! YAY!

    I'm still looking forward to it. Paid off my pre-order in full the other day so nothing to do but pick it up (and then wait an hour and a half for it to update haha).

      Oh yeah - forgot about that! LOL - im going to the midnight launch - so will come home, set it up, and then either get to sleep and play the next day, or wait up....im sure I wont be sleeping! :D

    The best advice I can give is to get off neogaf! I've been on there all day and watching the giantbomb live stream (being on holidays accommodates this waste of a day lol) and earlier in the day I was quite disheartened by all the reports of the system being underpowered and the frame rate issues of ports. Then I sat back for a second and realised that the Wii was under powered and the DS and 3DS are under powered and yet they are all great consoles and all sold extremely well. The software will sell the system. Nintendo will still make great games and it will be fun to play. And let's remember this is day one people. No system is prefect straight out of the gate. Xbox live has 10 years behind it and PSN about 6. As for dodgy ports any developer given less than a year to port a game to a new platform it is unfamiliar with will do well just to get it on a playable state.

    Remember when the 360 launched? There was a crappy Perfect dark sequel (no crouching!) and most people played Halo 2 for months. The PS3 had resistance and not much else. More recently you have the 3DS and vita with their lackluster launch lineups. Give it done time people! Nintendo are at least heading in the right direction. If nothing has improved in 12 months then maybe there will be cause for concern. In the meantime I'll enjoy playing Nintendo games on the game pad in bed and in HD on my TV.

      +1 - Amen! :D

      ^ Got it in one!

      Having played that Perfect Dark game only a year ago - good lord it was awful. The Wii U at least has some known quantities like AC3 and Batman that aren't going to suck.

      In fact looking at the 360 release schedule - people probably had to wait until Mass Effect (which was still a wonky game in a lot of respects) or Gears of War for an experience that made the whole affair worthwhile over their PS2 or Xbox 1

      The moral of this story is, buying a console at launch can be a bit like being that guy on YouTube that posts "first!", it's great to get into the action, but would it have hurt to have waited, probably not!

      I bought a 360 at the end of 2009 - four years into the system's life and already three years of use, with another two in front of it before I'd have to think about moving on!

    I'm going to wait, at the very least for a decent game that'll keep me wrapped up in the console. I thought that would be ZombiU, but mixed reviews has killed my hype. Seeing as I never got around to playing Monster Hunter Tri, I'll probably pick it up around or after that comes out. I'm not super fussed about the Gamepad, but I want some decent modern JRPG's, none of this turn-based crap. That's old hat!

    The saving grace is that most of the problems seem to be software / service related, which means they can be fixed with patches. Whether it should have been allowed out in that state is open to debate (well... actually it's not - it shouldn't have). But now the test for Nintendo is to fix it as fast as they can before the problems smother any buzz surrounding the launch. They really can't afford to have this situation drag on for weeks.


    The online world has made game and console devs lazy. The attitude of "we can fix that with a patch on launch" has created a market where things can be released full of bugs and issues with no real drawback until its too late for customer backlash to mean anything.

    They've still got to market the thing too.

    A guy at work who games - currently playing Dishonored, so he's not entirely clueless - asked me why the Wii U has Arkham City but the PS Vita doesn't. He had no idea that the Wii U wasn't a handheld console.

    The ads I've seen make sense to me, as I follow gaming news, but if you don't? I wouldn't blame you for being confused.

    Im still hyped for launch day!

    Glad the Yanks are there to sort the problems out! :D

    Nintendo patching shit?

    This is unheard of. Where's patches for all the exploits in your games like all the in game glitches to mario kart, ruining all sorts of fair online play.

    Love the nerd rage when I attack your totally problem free console.

    - 2 -3 hour battery life in your game-pad
    -multiple ports of games like Mass effect 3 and Ninja gaiden. (Didnt we all play them ages ago? Playing catch up to the current market when we already have Xboxs, PS3 or a decent PC rig in our homes)
    -A huge Patch on day one due to massive exploits
    -Aged hardware (which shows with my next comment below.)
    -37 seconds to load system hardware settings (that's a joke right)

    You guys need to see things properly not go


    Best thing about the Wii is hacking the living hell out of it with homebrew and totally giving the middle finger to Nintendos "region lock out" and every retarded move Nintendo does.

    stop being so utterly loyal to a company that Fucks its own loyal fanbase.

      So sony and microsoft is allowed to patch their consoles and Nintendo is not allowed? hypocrite ?

      Console isnt problem free but doesnt mean the problems outweight the advantages. Maybe to a Nintendo hater but to other people they see potential in the console

      2-3 hour gamepad battery is a little low, but look whats in the Gamepad, 6.2 inch touch screen, analog controls, buttons, speaker, mic, camera, motion control, & NFC thats quite alot of tech that is crammed into the controller, and according to most reports its not as heavy as it looks which is an amazing achievement, maybe not to people who see anything Nintendo does as an achievement but hey you cant please everyone. The problem can be alleviated two ways, keep the gamepad plugged in or wait till the extended batteries come out - may make them heavier but for extra battery life might be worth it, its up to the Wii U owner to decide

      Ports are always gonna be there at launch and through any consoles life. Yes alot are late, but as most Wii owners are aware getting them all is a big deal. I means the chances of sequels for these titles will more then likely be on the Wii U. Thats good news for any Nintendo fan

      Why complain about patches? Its like your only complaining that Nintendo does this. Get a reality check. Its a part of any consoles life. This one in particular isnt done as well as it could be lets not start a riot over a minor inconvenience that is not exclusive to the Wii U.

      The load times are a concern and i hope that future updates fix that crap up. That doesnt mean aged hardware but thats not to excuse Nintendos lack of polish, which is not really a good thing. Hey as long as the gaming experiences are great and interesting those things can be forgiven, after all just look at 360's read ring of death debacle, despite this terrible issue fans forgave them because they kept releasing quality titles to keep them entertained. If Nintendo does the same why should we cry foul?

      Nintendo is what it is, and has always been this way, its not the company thats changed, its the gamer. If there type of gaming doesnt appeal to you there are plenty of options out there. Why get your knickers in a knot if a company gives a gaming experience different to what you want?

      Agreed - Nintendo may as well die, hopeless. Same shitty games released over and over - I'm sick of it. I hate the Nintendo Piss - bought the red limited edition 25th anniversary (Mario) edtn - Worst Mistake Ever... I regret it more than buying 1000 Caltex shares just 2 weeks before the crash in Jan '08.
      Here is my prediction - Nintendo will die, and come back like Sega - they will make games for Sony to start off with, giving Sony a much needed wind to carry on.

        You know, for a second I thought you said "they will make games for sega to start off with," and I would've loved this comment. Buut nooppe, had to be unoriginal. Pftt.

        That's a bold prediction - but if anything, I don't think Sony is going to survive beyond the next generation, and that's not an indictment on the Playstation, but rather it's mother company which is losing money hand over fist. Maybe the Playstation will survive, but Sony would be a different beast.

        Nintendo, on the other hand, has plenty of fuel left in the tank.

    Quite a few pages around the internet are stating the contrary. The PS3/360 all launched with problems galore and with an arguably weaker set of titles. Has there ever been a perfect lineup or console release? No, of course not. Albeit, in my eyes, Nintendo's Wii U launch is actually one of the better ones. Relax, things can only improve from here; your 'killer app' will come.

    After buying a Wii on launch day, and then buying the what, 6 games for it that were any good, I recently gave my Wii away to a workmate for free and vowed to not buy a Wii U at all. I have no faith in anybodies ability to deliver decent third party games for it, so it's just not worth the outlay for first party games only.

    Thank-you people see the light that Nintendo has screwed its loyal fan-base for far too long.

    Nintendo you were amazing when you did

    ORGINAL gameboys

    Far to many screw-ups for me to shell out any more money for you. The 3DS and Wii were the last draw. Hope this company rots.

    Releasing a buggy console *software wise* and people having to patch it day one is piss poor effort just shows the effort they put in.

    The battery life is acceptable for the game pad is that a joke?

    Nintendo have lost it fullstop.

      You do realise that the "day one patch" isn't for software bugs, right? It's an update to the system software to enable half the features of the thing, because it was all still in development when the console production started up. When you have a whole stack of machines sitting in a warehouse and something new gets finalised for the software, you can't go and open them all up to update them.

      The Wii had exactly the same thing at its launch too - you couldn't use the SD slot at all out of the box, you had to download the first system software update for it to be enabled.

      But hey, no need to let facts get in the way of a good rant, right?

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