If you're a gamer who enjoys playing online, the Nintendo Wii has probably left you wanting. Online play has never been Nintendo's strong-point, but recent revelations is regards to the Wii U certainly give the appearance that the company is trying to flip that bad rep around. During E3 this year, Ubisoft producer Adrian Blunt let it slip that the Nintendo was dropping friend codes all together, allowing for an experience closer to that found on Xbox Live. This was solidified further when Shigeru Miyamoto, a week later, implied that Mii avatars would somehow work into a universal online platform for the Wii U.
Now, it sounds like the company is even willing to let third-party publishers push their own online networks onto the console.
Speaking to Forbes, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime says that the company isn't interested in arguing with publishers who would like to impress their own online networks for their titles. The company is apparently more than willing to allow those networks to be accessed through the Wii U.
"For Wii U, we’re going to take that one step further, and what we’re doing is creating a much more flexible system that will allow the best approaches by independent publishers to come to bear," Fils-Aime told Forbes. "So instead of a situation where a publisher has their own network and wants that to be the predominant platform, and having arguments with platform holders, we’re going to welcome that. We’re going to welcome that from the best and the brightest of the third party publishers."
The only console-based publisher network that immediately comes to mind is Ubisoft's Uplay. The publisher has been pushing the online network for a couple years now, enticing gamers to join with free downloadable-content and other goodies associated with games like "Assassin's Creed." It's important to note that Ubisoft was at the forefront of embracing the Wii U at E3 this year, showing off their upcoming title "Ghost Recon Online." It was during a demonstration of that game that Blunt first told us about Nintendo doing away with friend codes, after all.
While it's great to see Nintendo finally catching up with the rest of the world in terms of online play, allowing publishers to control that access sounds a bit odd. Consider this: that could potentially mean signing up with a service for each publisher; seems a bit redundant. While Fils-Aime is clearly only hinting at the possibilities of such an agreement, it's hard to imagine the publishers won't take the bait.
In the end, the Wii U will still probably end up with some type of unified network for first-party Nintendo titles, but Fils-Aime's comments definitely leave room for speculation about everything else.