The Wii U is only a few months old, but Nintendo is already planning to expand the console’s feature set by adding some brand new community tools to the Miiverse social network.
During an online Nintendo Direct session on Wednesday, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata announced that the Miiverse will see several updates in the first half of 2013 that aim to make the online Wii U community more engaging.
According to Nintendo, many of these updates will have direct ties with specific games. Iwata noted that the upcoming Pikmin 3, for example, will include a build-in camera mode that allows players to take screenshots and share images of the game with others users on Miiverse. This feature will make it even easier for players to share game content and spark discussions with other Pikmin 3 users.
Wii Fit U, on the other hand, will allow players to create their own closed Miiverse communities. Here, users can set up private online groups to motivate each other and discuss their progress in the fitness-based game. These closed communities are a fairly notable change for the Miiverse, as other games on the service only offer a single online hub for players to chat, share pictures, and ask questions in. Nintendo added that it plans to enable closed communities on other Wii U games after Wii Fit U debuts later this year.
Outside of specific Wii U games, Nintendo added that it plans to add online filters to help users find specific types of Miiverse content. In addition, Nintendo also revealed plans to bring the Miiverse to smartphones sometime this spring.
When discussing these upcoming updates to the Miiverse, Iwata said he hopes to make social connectivity an even more essential part of the Wii U experience. When players can chat with each other and share content with their friends, he believes games become far more interesting.
“The fun of games is being able to enjoy the games themselves as well as being able to talk about them with others and share those experiences,” he said. By creating healthy online communities within the Miiverse, Nintendo believes that players will become more invested in their game experiences, and will thus spend more time with their Wii U.
With this new console, Nintendo seems to be trying hard to embrace the online, connected world. With the original Wii, Nintendo didn’t do much to foster online relationships between players, but this latest Nintendo Direct demonstrated that the company now understands the importance of engaging players via Community as a Service.
But will the Miiverse actually grow into the compelling online hub Nintendo is looking for? We won’t know for sure until the Wii U is a bit more mature, but we’ll be keeping a close eye on the service to see how it all shakes out.
For more information on the upcoming Miiverse updates, check out this week’s Nintendo Direct video.