Nintendo’s online Miiverse service, which is in development for the Wii U (and eventually the Nintendo 3DS), has two goals. The first, as shared by Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, earlier this year, is to increase game sales.
Miiverse will not be a service for which you’ll have to pay a subscription fee. Instead, Nintendo feel that Miiverse will increase revenue in a different way—by allowing users to recommend games to one another, and thus, increasing their exposure among the Wii U userbase.
“In short, we expect that online services will contribute to our profits in the form of increasing the number of games to be sold for one platform,” Iwata stated at an investor Q&A back in June.
The other goal, Iwata tells Kotaku, is to allow Wii U users to feel like they aren’t alone, and that they have someone to keep them company, even if they aren’t playing a multiplayer game. Iwata wants to create an “empathy” among players, where people can share their game experiences, tips and stories with one another, just as we once did on the playground with friends, and now do via social-networking services like Twitter or Facebook.
“Of course we’re going to have that service of head-to-head [multiplayer, when you are] on at the same time playing games against each other,” Iwata says, “but what we really want to do is create a place where folks who are playing by themselves will not feel like they are playing by themselves. They’ll be able to share those experiences and have that empathy that we mentioned earlier.”
Due to this, Miiverse is being designed as a social network of sorts to facilitate this kind of communication on the Wii U, and will also be brought to the Nintendo 3DS at some point. However, the service will be accessible not just through Nintendo consoles, but also via the PC and phones, as it is largely browser-based.
Nintendo are on to something with Miiverse. The idea of asynchronous multiplayer or communication that doesn’t directly involve teaming up or fighting with someone else is catching on with a lot of developers, both in the console and mobile space. Dark Souls is one recent prominent example of this.