The Nintendo Wii U’s got some growing up to do yet. It doesn’t have very many games unique to the platform, its social network Miiverse is still populated by a small but growing community, and its services like Nintendo TVii don’t have their full range of functionality yet. That’s fine. Modern game consoles are, after all, more like modern PCs and mobile devices than the consoles of yore. They are evolving tools changed through updates delivered over the internet. One problem holding the Wii U back, though, is the fact that it doesn’t work very smoothly at a basic level. In fact, it doesn’t even come with the firmware it needs to work out of the box and it won’t for months to come. It takes almost 90 seconds to switch between apps and to load some content on the console. Nintendo promises it’s working on it.
Speaking with Nikkei Business on Sunday, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata said that people are generally satisfied with the console besides its sluggish performance and that the company is working on fixing those issues.
“People realize the importance and benefits of having a personal screen that works in conjunction with the TV the more they use it,” said Iwata, “Setting aside the dissatisfaction some purchasers have with start-up and software change speeds, which we will improve.”
In a world accustomed to the instant gratification offered by gadgets like the iPhone, it’s no wonder that some customers have grumbled about the Wii U. The truth is that the console is not so bad. If you’re already sitting in front of a television to play a game, waiting another minute for the game to load isn’t really that big of a deal.
On the other hand, Nintendo really needs to improve the efficiency of its digital distribution. Downloading ZombiU, a large retail game, from the eShop took over 6 hours and that was after three aborted attempts where I was met with an error message after downloading completed. The whole process took over 24 hours. If Nintendo’s Wii U is going to be a success, its service needs to be improved more badly than its basic operating speeds.