Nintendo offers up more Wii U online and WaraWara Plaza details

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We’ve known for a while now that big changes were in store for the Nintendo online experience with the impending release of the Wii U this month, and now we have a few more details about those changes.

In a Nintendo Direct video presentation that arrived online today, the company outlined a number of innovations Wii U users can look forward to in the next-gen system and the new look and feel of WaraWara Plaza, the in-game lobby that serves as a starting point for Wii U interaction.

One of the big tweaks the new system will receive is the replacement of Nintendo’s “Friend Codes” with a “Network ID” for each user. The ID will be a cross-platform form of identification that serves as your Nintendo account for the eShop and associated Nintendo identity elsewhere around the Internet. According to the presentation, up to 12 different Network IDs can be associated with a single Wii U console, and they’ll all be able to share the downloaded games.

Nintendo’s “Miiverse” will also provide an instant form of interaction with the greater Nintendo community, putting the spotlight on certain users’ conversations about games displayed in the WaraWara Plaza and allowing you to join the discussion without opening a new application.

The video also provides a look at Wii U Chat, the video chat tool that users can communicate on from one Wii U to another, using both the GamePad and television. The GamePad’s onboard camera provides video of the user, and the touchscreen on the GamePad allows for some interesting options during the chat. The GamePad will blink with a similar blue light that the Wii used to alert its owners to messages awaiting them.