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Nintendo executives unfamiliar with PSN, Xbox Live, says anon dev

Sunday, 12th January 2014 23:38 GMT By Brenna Hillier

An anonymous developer has come forward to discuss the genesis of the Wii U, describing something of a shambles, with senior Nintendo staff unfamiliar with console networks.

In a much-discussed anonymous tell-all on Eurogamer, an anonymous source describes the process of working with Nintendo to develop a third-party title for the Wii U, starting prior to the hardware’s internal reveal.

The developer has some strong criticisms regarding the Wii U’s architecture, much of which was discussed in the build up to its launch, but it’s their commentary on Nintendo’s approach to the online features of the console that is particularly interesting.

“We got the chance to talk to some more senior people in Nintendo, via a phone conference, as they were gathering feedback on our development experiences and their toolchain,” the developer wrote.

“The discussion started off well enough and covered off our experiences with the hardware and (slow) toolchain and then we steered them towards discussing when the online features might be available. We were told that the features, and the OS updates to support them, would be available before the hardware launch, but only just. There were apparently issues with setting up a large networking infrastructure to rival Sony and Microsoft that they hadn’t envisaged.

“This was surprising to hear, as we would have thought that they had plenty of time to work on these features as it had been announced months before, so we probed a little deeper and asked how certain scenarios might work with the Mii friends and networking, all the time referencing how Xbox Live and PSN achieve the same thing. At some point in this conversation we were informed that it was no good referencing Live and PSN as nobody in their development teams used those systems (!) so could we provide more detailed explanations for them?”

The rest of the article describes the difficulty of communicating with Nintendo staff via multiple translators; implies a lack of third-party support; discusses the notorious day one OS patch; and predicts tough times ahead for the Wii U.

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40 Comments

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  1. monkeygourmet

    It was an interesting article, but this part, I didn’t really ‘get’.

    It’s obvious Nintendo is behind MS and Sony in the online stakes, but still, everything has ‘worked’ for me since launch. In fact, Miiverse has been fantastic and easily my favourite online community. I’ve yet to try PS4 (which looks better than PS3) or Xbone (which looks more of the same as before).

    The biggest problem is unified accounts with 3DS and it would be nice to see a little more freedom / cross platform stuff.

    It would have been good for Eurogamer to get a few more opinions when running the article, rather than one un-named one. Still, a good read.

    #1 6 months ago
  2. Hcw87

    Nintendo seem to be living in their own little bubble, and it’s about to burst any minute now.

    #2 6 months ago
  3. fengato

    @2 They have enough cash in the bank to keep up the silliness for quite some time to come. I’d love to see them purely focused on software.

    #3 6 months ago
  4. jmg24bad

    I dont want them to keep up the silliness. They know what the problems are but REFUSE to fix them. I have never seen a company give up so much easy money in the history of gaming companies.

    #4 6 months ago
  5. Ireland Michael

    @1 The “point” is that they’re stuck in the past.

    Nintendo is becoming the old person that, while they have good intentions, their opinions and views are so out of touch with modern times that actually trying to explain things to them is a waste of time, because they simply can’t understand.

    Nintendo needs to “grow up”, or they’re going to become irrelevant. The 3DS is keeping them going, but for the first in a. Nintendo machine’s history (for me at least), it’s the third party games keeping me interested. They’ve just lost the magic. The games are technically great but depressingly uninspired. A Link Between Worlds is the one exception.

    No longer is it that the a Nintendo brand is a sign of the best quality you can find. A new generation of game designers are emerging now, that grew up gaming themselves, and their games are proving that you no longer need to be Nintendo to create a classic.

    Gamers have moved on. Many of them have grown up, and they want sometimes deeper out of their games. They want Bioshock and The Last of Us. Something that actually makes you think.

    #5 6 months ago
  6. sebastien rivas

    Yes Nint live in their bubble but I must say it is one of the charm.

    That is what separate them from others (PS/MS)

    Although I must agree in many ways with @5 whereas opening doors even just a bit as well as Nint trying to understand they demographics a bit better would help everyone so much and help Nint too.

    C’mon Nint, don’t you want to hear the “Ching Ching, Ching Ching” a bit more often?

    #6 6 months ago
  7. Just-Joe

    @6 I’m sure they hear it enough already thanks to the 3DS.

    #7 6 months ago
  8. Dragon

    Not surprising in the least.
    Wii U sales are down in the dumps . And the real next gen is flying high and will probably kill wiius 1 year lead in a matter on months. There is demand, just for for ninty home consoles.

    29th Jan will be interesting to watch. Something needs to change at Ninty. First is their attitude that industry exists for them. No wonder 3rd parties don’t like working with a company like Ninty whose contracts were made in such a manner that it ensured they profited, even if 3rd party lost money.

    #8 6 months ago
  9. The_Red

    This is pretty much the story of “Nintendo under the dome”. Seeing this right after Emily Roger’s excellent article about Game Cube makes me feel kinda sad for Nintendo. It’s like a 100 year old grandpa who may or may not be aware of his surroundings.

    #9 6 months ago
  10. The_Red

    @5
    Well said though I want to suggest that it’s not limited to games that make us think. BioShock and TLOU are indeed great games but I believe there is still a perfect place for all sorts of other, more arcade-ish games. The problem is that as you said, what Nintendo is offering is no longer an a absolute classic AND that is REGARDLESS of the genre or theme (fun arcade or dark survival horror).

    It really comes down to the new generation of developers who (IMO) aren going in all directions by not just targeting thoughtful or deeper games but also trying to make more evolved and advanced arcade titles. Something like Brothers A Tale of 2 Sons had more charm and magic to it than any modern Nintendo title.

    I’d say that even in field of fun platformers and adventure titles, Nintendo has been left behind. Super Meat Boy and Spelunky are way ahead of any modern Nintendo platformer. Mario Galaxy 1-2 are near classics and 3D World is really great but the last time they had the absolute best in that regard was Mario 64.

    Then there are “thinking” games that are new even for Sony and MS. Titles like Stanley Parable and Gone Home can never be found on consoles, let alone Nintendo platforms (Though with Sony’s aggressive approach to indie games, I hope PS4 can one day see games like those. Proteus is just the first step for them).

    #10 6 months ago
  11. Dragon

    @5,10,
    I seriously doubt the issue here is the quality of games. Everyone makes great games (depending on taste). Its more about whether they can sustain themselves in home console hardware market.
    1st party only will only help Wii U till GC levels. And 3rd parties aren’t in a hurry to launch on ninty platforms, when they know how they are treated as 3rd class citizens by Ninty, quite unlike Sony and MS who value 3rd party feedback much more.
    No classic can sell 10 of millions of consoles. Its a complete package that sells a hardware. Individually, indies matter nothing too. Its when you have a catalogue of 1000s of good games (or encouraging signs of that happening like in case of PS4), you get good sales.

    Is it really surprising that PS4 and X1 are breaking records and Wii U is dying?

    #11 6 months ago
  12. The_Red

    @11
    The point as Michael said wasn’t about the quality. It is about behind stuck in the past. Design and progressive games is just part of that.

    (Though I was talking about quality and mainly, the games outside the “thinking, deep” group that Michael was talking about). Just compare Spelunky to the latest Mario title. One of them is breaking new grounds in many many ways while also been praised for its masterful design:
    http://www.polygon.com/2013/12/23/5227726/anatomy-of-a-spelunky-miracle-or-how-the-internet-finally-beat
    http://www.pcgamer.com/2013/12/26/pc-gamer-game-of-the-year-awards-2013/

    The other is just another great Mario that is not pushing game design in anyway and feels oddly stuck in the past (Unlike say, Mario 64 which was indeed ahead of its time).

    #12 6 months ago
  13. Ireland Michael

    The quality is fine. But it’s all just so… bland. It’s boring. None of the games are remotely progressive or experimental. There’s no depth to them. No nuance or subtlety.

    Nintendo games bore me nowadays. A video game should never be boring.

    They’ve become obscenely afraid of thinking outside of the box and it’s affecting the company as a whole. They refuse to experiment at all. A second screen isn’t enough of its just going to be a glorified menu for most games.

    This is the first time in their history as a console developer that they’ve been losing money. It’s not going to kill them, but it *should* be a warning sign to them. And they’re sitting on their asses and doing nothing about it.

    #13 6 months ago
  14. OmegaSlayer

    If you’re not interested in what your competitors do, you’re plain unprofessional.
    That’s all I have to say.

    I keep hearing people hoping Nintendo will release new hardware in 2015-16.
    After the trainwreck WiiU is, after the insult to hardcore gaming Wii was, I would never be interested in buy Nintendo hardware and I keep asking myself how other people could.

    #14 6 months ago
  15. mistermogul

    Nintendo need to get a decent executive team together…

    They have been on the decline since Yamauchi left in the early 2000′s and have no execs with balls in the US.

    Reggie is likeable but useless, same for Scott Moffit. NOA need a pro-active team that actually makes things happen rather than the corporate talking robots they have today. The caliber of Howard Lincoln and Peter Main are needed to bring the company in line with the times.

    It’s painful to see a company you love turn to ruin and be so clueless.

    #15 6 months ago
  16. Fin

    Nintendo have NFI about online.

    I appreciate that they don’t have experience in the online space, seeing as they’ve almost completely ignored it for the past three generations, but jesus do some opposition research.

    #16 6 months ago
  17. monkeygourmet

    @IM

    Personally, I think you still need to own all the systems to get a good cross section out of gaming.

    The minute I feel a console isn’t required for me to enjoy certain games, I wonder what direction that company is taking.

    The only console that I feel that way about is the Xbone. That could obvioulsy change because it’s early days, but, judging the last bit of life of the 360, MS clearly seem to think they can get by on the media box image and third party software.

    The PS4, while being in a similar boat, is certain to get some decent exclsives based on Sony’s previous output on PS3, coupled with an easier to develop for architecture.

    Wii U has plenty of good exclusives, and plenty coming (due to it’s lack of third party stuff, almost every game on it is an exclusive!)

    And that sums it up for me, exclusives matter. In a big way.

    I very quickly decided before the start of this gen, which machine would play the best third party games?

    The answer was none of the above. It was the PC. I wouldn’t have to worry about screen tear / frame rates if I had a PC, so it was an easy choice.

    I may be in the minority, but I think we are a long, long way from one brand being able to provide everything you want to play. Sony is the closest with the PS4, but, unfortunatly, whenever I see a new Halo, Mario, Metroid, etc… I will want to play it, because, I like those titles.

    The amazing games you refer to (apart from Bioshock / Last of Us), sound more like Indie titles? Again, the PC is perfect for that platform, maybe quadrupling the output of consoles in this area.

    I think Nintendo’s biggest problem seems to be image… The games are there, people just seem to ignore them.

    Image isn’t a problem for me, I just do what I enjoy. I read graphic novels, watch ‘childish’ animation, whatever. Im not worried about what people think because I know that attitude limits what I want to do.

    I heard a little kid talk to his mum a whie ago (this stuck with me for some reason), he asked:

    “Does Dad like Spiderman too?”

    She replied:

    “Maybe when he was little, he’s too old for that now…”

    It just made me sad. Nintendo’s image they crafted with the Wii was a mixed blessing, the Wii had hardcore games, it just never got beyond the family friendly image. Unfortunalty, many people would rather cut off their nose to spite their face and not pick one up to play some great games.

    The Wii U follows suit, it was an awful, awful name to use, and doesn’t help, for anyone who relies on image / peer pressure, when deciding on a product (I exclude people who only go with one option out of finacial reasons obviously).

    If you strip away those factors and look at the games, what you have is a cheap console with lots of great exclusives. If you also enjoy Nintendo’s output, it holds more value, but it still offers an experience you will not find anywhere else.

    That is why Nintendo are justified IMO. They offer an expereince you do not find on other platforms. So do Sony / MS to an extent, but their latest ‘offerings’ are becoming eerily similar to each other. You simply don’t really need both (at least not for a long time yet).

    For better or worse, Nintendo needs to operate in this outside space, it worked with Wii, it’s not working so well with Wii U, but im sure they will try again.

    #17 6 months ago
  18. Joe Musashi

    @15 “They have been on the decline since Yamauchi left in the early 2000′s…”

    I don’t think that’s it. Yamauchi is absent, but his spirit and attitude live on. However, the world has moved towards a direction where such thinking yields smaller and smaller returns.

    If Nintendo are content with their direction and their volumes then there’s no need for change. If they’re content in their bubble, so be it.

    JM

    #18 6 months ago
  19. naffgeek

    I actually love my WiiU for the very reason that it doesn’t tow the same line as PS/MS.

    I love the fact that it doesn’t have the multi platform games because wtf would that do other than make it the same as everything else.

    I don’t understand the Nintendo hate that rears it’s ugly head every time there is a related story.

    Are people just pissed they can’t have ninty games unless they buy a WiiU???

    Just weird.

    #19 6 months ago
  20. monkeygourmet

    @19

    I think there has largely been a power shift. Third Parties (that MS helped bolster with exclusive content deals in the 360 era), have become even more of a crutch / necessity for all the consoles

    They dictate pace and will go anywhere that let’s them operate freely / sell their wares. Nintendo are still quite protective over their brand (for better or worse), and third parties are attacking them.

    Some may say: ‘rightfully so’, I think a halfway point is more constructive when dealing with companies like EA / Acti who who now effectively control the PS4 / Xbone without challenge.

    You don’t comply? We turn the tap off and you don’t get any water…

    #20 6 months ago
  21. dizzygear

    The online is still a disaster indeed. Maybe their building something behind the scenes given they shove a Nintendo ID through down your throat if want to download demo’s for the eShop on the 3DS now.
    But even that seemed downright stupid. I already had a club Nintendo ID why could i just not convert that one to a Nintendo ID and save us the hassle?

    Oh and that fucking region lock on their consoles. Nintendo is the ONLY one thats still doing that backwards bullshit and than pour salt in the wound by censoring Bravery Default, Fire Emblem and delaying PAL SMT4 for an eternity.
    NOE is prolly working hard replacing tit references to hair and demons to kittens. Joking aside, i’m worried.

    #21 6 months ago
  22. Ireland Michael

    @19 I think hate is the wrong word.

    I love Nintendo. I loved when we got crazy inventive shit like Paper Mario and expertly crafted masterpieces like Super Mario Galaxy. I would lap that stuff up like a starving dog with his first meal.

    just don’t feel that sense of creativity in this generation. At all.

    Another Mario game Kart. With sticky floors. Yay?
    Another Donkey Kong game… that looks exactly like the last one?
    The” New Super Mario Bros.” titles are creatively barren and dull.
    Where the hell is Samus?! She fits perfectly into popular genres.

    It’s all so… mediocre. Animal Crossing: New Leaf and A Link Between Worlds are the only games recently where they’ve infused any sort of real development of the core gameplay. The rest rely on game design that felt outdated… in the 90s.

    Where the hell did their creativity go?

    #22 6 months ago
  23. Joe Musashi

    This conspiracy theory that third parties are holding the industry to ransom is absolute bullshit. It’s a magical fantasy. It’s clutching at straws. It’s looking to shift blame and suggest wrongdoing rather than face facts. It’s denial.

    It is no coincidence that every successful/dominant platform has been the one with the broadest third party support. This has always been the case. Always. Look back to any generation and you will see this trend. Look beyond the videogame industry and you will see this trend.

    JM

    #23 6 months ago
  24. monkeygourmet

    @23

    I thought the Wii did quite well, that had very limited third party support. (Apart from shovelware).

    #24 6 months ago
  25. Ireland Michael

    @24 The Wii survived almost entirely on gimmicks. It had enough quality titles to keep leverage on top of that, but it was mostly out of pure curiosity for a lot of people.

    The industry isn’t holding anyone to ransom. They just don’t care about the Wii U. It doesn’t have to online infrastructure necessary to thrive in the current market. People just aren’t going to make games for a machine that they know won’t sell.

    #25 6 months ago
  26. Fin

    @24

    It was a special case. The Wii did well because people who don’t normally buy a console (and haven’t since) bought it. They didn’t care about third party support (or even first-party support), they just wanted to play “the tennis game” or whatever.

    Nintendo got complacent, then that audience moved onto tablets and smartphones, which Nintendo either didn’t realise or didn’t predict.
    Now, they’re stuck with failings from the Wii, which they didn’t have to correct at the time (lack of online system, no system OS in background, no unified friends list, no trophies/achievements, lack of proper controller, weak graphics/system, lack of fresh first-party IP, lack of third party support, lack of multiplatform support) without the casual audience to compensate for its failings.

    Unless Nintendo actually pull their head out of the sand, look at where the industry now, and plan for parity with other systems, they’d dead in the home console space.

    #26 6 months ago
  27. monkeygourmet

    @22

    I’m still not seeing much from anyone else that tops the creativity I see in Nintendo titles.

    If you want to break things down / over analyse for other titles, things start to look pretty bleak unless you play a lot of indie games on PC.

    Killzone
    New Infamous
    New Uncharted
    New Halo
    New Fable
    New Forza
    New GT

    Etc, etc…

    Of course we get some gems for each console, but to play them all means you have to be a multi platform owner.

    #27 6 months ago
  28. Fin

    @27

    It’s important to point out that Infamous and Uncharted were only conceived in the last generation.

    Also, are you serious?

    New Mario
    New Mario Soccer
    New Mario Party
    New Mario Kart
    New New Super Mario
    New Yoshi’s Island
    New Smash Bros
    etcetcetcetc

    #28 6 months ago
  29. The_Red

    @19
    People aren’t pissed off because “they can’t have ninty games unless they buy WiiU”. They are pissed because the machine they have to buy is underpowered, has shitty online system and is way behind times in almost every way.

    #29 6 months ago
  30. The_Red

    @27
    Wow, I respect your opinion and posts but nothing “from anyone else that tops the creativity I see in Nintendo titles” is too much. Stuff like Spelunky, Brothers A Tale of 2 Sons, Hotline Miami and Don’t Starve are already on their consoles and pretty much every single one of them is more creative than all new Nintendo software combined.

    #30 6 months ago
  31. Clupula

    I don’t see any creativity in putting out the same games for 30 years.

    #31 6 months ago
  32. Ireland Michael

    @27 Two wrongs don’t make a right. I never said the competition did it better. Microsoft are especially bad in regards to franchising and iterations. Sony right now are the only even genuinely trying to introduce new franchises.

    This isn’t about the competition though. Its about Nintendo’s own lack of creativity and innovation, and its own personal failings.

    “I’m still not seeing much from anyone else that tops the creativity I see in Nintendo titles.”

    - Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
    - Ni No Kuni
    - Rayman Legends
    - Guacamelee
    - LittleBigPlanet (especially this!)
    - Tearaway (my game of the year)

    And that’s just on the general audience range, before you start getting into more mature titles. And by mature I mean intelligent and thoughtful games, not gore, sex and violence.

    - The Last of Us
    - Tomb Raider

    And this is only in the last year. All of these titles make Nintendo’s games look and feel dated.

    #32 6 months ago
  33. Panthro

    @31

    Same characters yeah, but they reinvent the game play mechanics in every spin off making them feel completely different…

    Along with ‘creative’ level designs.

    ______________________________________________________

    With all the casual consumers buying tablets these days I think Nintendo would greatly benefit at this point from releasing there own tablet, I would buy one for sure.
    They need to ‘break the mould’ again, the last console that did that was the Wii and Nintendo only deserve (and need) to do it again, take a head first leap into something which the “hardcore manufactures” probably wouldn’t and focus on new Nintendo first party games and retro titles.

    It wont happen, but I can dream.

    #33 6 months ago
  34. The_Red

    @33
    Last time they re-invented the gameplay mechanics was with Mario 64. Even the planet / floating elements in Mario Galaxy were old (Seen in Psychonauts and a couple of other titles).

    They haven’t re-invented anything in years (unless you really love cat suits).

    #34 6 months ago
  35. Ireland Michael

    @33 “Same characters yeah, but they reinvent the game play mechanics in every spin off making them feel completely different…”

    But see, that’s the problem. They’re not doing that anywhere near as frequently as they used to. The only game I can think of where they’ve really, genuinely reinvented the gameplay on the current machines is A Link Between Worlds. Everything else right now is horribly iterative.

    #35 6 months ago
  36. Fin

    @35

    Even that was sequel to/used the same world map as Link to the Past (as far as I know?).

    #36 6 months ago
  37. Ireland Michael

    @36 Yes, but it does a lot of cool things with the gameplay, items and exploration, and using the 3D plane in a 2D world is really inventively done.

    It just feels very fresh for a Zelda title.

    #37 6 months ago
  38. Dragon

    @Red, IM,
    I still say its doesn’t matter, because “quality,bland,innovation”etc. are generally dependent on tastes.
    Case in point, I dont like Spelunky. I played the trial on Vita (the best version) and was distinctly unimpressed. In fact, I doubt games like SM3DL 3DS better than that (different genres I know, just saying).

    Wii U is failing due to an complete failure of the biz process driving its policies at Ninty. And an attitude where 3rd parties are just not cared about. I am surprised how anyone could defend such a selfish attitude.
    Add to that them taking all the wrong lessons from Wii. Wii was a fad. It sold very quickly, but its sales tapered off way quicker than any other successful console. Cheap gimmicks may work (motion controls was cheap), but costly don’t (like Wii U).

    All in all, I don’t see them enjoying any significant success in home console market any time soon, and it certainly will never be by design.

    #38 6 months ago
  39. ManuOtaku

    While i do agree they live in their own bubble, especially in the online space, as a gamer and owner of all consoles, well with the exception of the future steam os, i think nintendo needs to be nintendo, i dont want them to became sony 2 or microsoft 2, i want a different taste that the other two offer, and Nintendo, even if it is for their stuborn mentality is fine for me, and i hope it is fine for an X amount of gamers. Nintendo can be the second console of choice for any serious gamer.

    But io do believe they are improving somehow, with miiverse, their online store, etc, they are doing the right things with the nintendo touch, thats what some gamers want, something different from them.

    Now for the quality of their games, i do also believe there is a lot of developers that are great in doing quality titles, but nintendo titles are different, even in the zelda and mario games, you see the difference, and they are different that any other developer out there, a link to the past, is different to the wii titles and they are different to mayoras mask and to the gamecube zelda. The same for the marios, the new 3D mario on WiiU is different to Mario galaxy, to mario sunshine and to mario on 64, therefore i think they do offer different products with high quality games, like anybody else.

    #39 6 months ago
  40. Legendaryboss

    @39
    I don’t believe Nintendo set out Wii U in mind with being “a second console”. It is that type of thinking that puzzles me, do people buy Wii U exclusively for the exclusives and have a PS4/One or PS3/360 (Whatever gen Wii U can be classified as) on the side for third party stuff and some exclusives here and there?

    That highlights a big problem with Nintendo? How can the solution to this problem be buy another console?

    Point: This article caused some alarm bells when i first read it, my god! they live in their own bubble and thats not good. I thought as much before in regards to some factors, but it is good to have insider knowledge although secret developer.

    #40 6 months ago