Preview for the Wii U’s operating system update speaks volumes about Nintendo and its audience


The Wii U doesn’t exactly operate by the same standards as most contemporary consumer electronics. The operating system can chug along, taking upwards of a minute to quit from a game to the main menu. Waiting a few seconds is not the end of the world, but we’ve been conditioned expect comparatively lightning speeds compared to the smartphones in our pockets. The Wii U is getting better, though, and Nintendo can prove it.

Nintendo released a video Tuesday morning demonstrating the faster operating speed of the Wii U with the latest firmware update planned for release in April. The video shows a Wii U GamePad quitting from New Super Mario Bros. U to the main menu. The newer firmware makes the transition in roughly half the time.

Complaints about the way the system works have plagued the Wii U even more than the lack of games for the system. Nintendo president Satoru Iwata had to issue a public apology for the system’s loading times and prolonged system updates that followed the Wii U’s release in November. When Nintendo announced new Wii U games in January, it made the April system update a centerpiece of its presentation. A firmware update from earlier this month laid the groundwork for what will follow as well.

There’s no two ways about it: Dismal sales prove that the Wii U is failing. The fact that a video demonstrating improved operating speeds for a game console even exists speaks volumes about the current technology industry. It shows that video game companies have to tend to an almost terrifyingly entitled audience that has become spoiled by modern conveniences. Consumers should remember that just because a machine doesn’t behave like an iPhone doesn’t automatically mean it’s bad. This isn’t to defend the Wii U. The console’s instability, its habit of locking up and needing to be rebooted, demonstrates that the machine was released before it was ready. The company shouldn’t have to release an informative video to placate needy fans and journalists. 

That said, the video also proves that Nintendo was woefully unprepared to bring the Nintendo Wii U to market. All consoles launch with scant original games – that’s not Wii U’s big problem. Everything from the console’s operating system to its digital distribution infrastructure reflect a company that isn’t ready to meet industry standards. The fact that Nintendo doesn’t offer a unified account for users to track their purchases in the eShop as well as their Miiverse friend network – the sorts of features that were in Xbox Live a decade ago – betrays Nintendo’s base incompetence in the modern technology industry.