|Image courtesy of PureNintendo.|
True Cross Platform Usage
Nintendo has already announced that the new program will be cross platform with not only the current Nintendo consoles, but PC and mobile as well. Aside from this fact, no other details have been announced, such as what this actually means. What Nintendo needs to do is make this a true cross platform experience that includes purchases that span multiple devices and saved data that can be accessed from multiple devices.
|This is the start of Nintendo's vision. (Image courtesy of NintendoLife)|
This is the number one problem that Nintendo needs to address. The excuse at the moment is that Nintendo wants to keep the value of games up rather than discounting continuously to try to aim for more sales. It's a noble excuse, and one that has some merit, but it can only be used so much before it looks like a thin veil to not give up something that is making the company money. If the upper management feels that handing out multiple copies on multiple devices will bring down the value of the game, there could always be a cheaper license purchase for players who own the game on a separate device. So rather than paying $5.99 for Legend of Zelda on my Wii U when I already own it on my 3DS, I could pay $.99 to buy a license and utilize it to re-download the game on this new device. It's silly that players have to re-buy these games over and over again and, honestly, it feels a bit like a let down, as if Nintendo doesn't care that it's consumers have to re-purchase these games.
|Having to purchase these separately is silly and kind of outrageous. (Image courtesy of Engadget).|
Hate them or love them, Trophies and Achievements are important to PlayStation and Xbox owners. Not only is there evidence that games with these features sell better, these games often have longer retention, depending on how the feature is implemented. Nintendo won't create a similar system, nor should they. Keeping score between friends isn't really Nintendo's style and creates a competitive nature that sometimes leads to hostilities that Nintendo does not want to deal with in it's online community. However, creating a unique system to show off accomplishments and compare with friends online is some thing Nintendo needs to implement.
|This is a start, but keep it going Nintendo! (Image courtesy of games.niooz.fr)|
And if Badges aren't what Nintendo wants to do then something similar, such as Stamps or a Garden to collect plants that relate to these systems. Anything is better than nothing, and knowing Nintendo, the company can create some system that is not only creative, but undeniably charming and cute at the same time. Having this system to span all devices and Nintendo games would be fantastic.
Maintain the Miis
The biggest thing Nintendo has over Sony and Microsoft when it comes to social gaming networks is the Mii system. Miis can be kind of a joke, but ultimately they are the best solution to keeping Nintendo unique and can help maintain a social network specific to Nintendo games and products. And unlike the Avatars that Microsoft uses for Xbox, Miis are utilized for Mii Plaza and other social areas.
|This is a start, but make it a little bit more interesting (image courtesy of Nintendo wiki).|
Keeping this concept and expanding on it will create a creative and interesting gaming social network that can do the same thing as PSN and Xbox Live, but also create a social area to interact with other players. Sony tried this with PlayStation Home, but ultimately it was too separated from the gaming space that players start in. To get to PlayStation Home you have to go out of your way. It is too ambitious. Keeping it simple, but building on Mii Plaza, Nintendo can capture this social area interaction while keeping players close to the games they want to play.
Taking this concept to mobile and PC platforms would be simple as well. A Mii app for mobile phones that would allow players to customize Miis, chat with friends and even compete in mini games and show off their Badge Collections (SEE HOW IT ALL COMES TOGETHER NINTENDO!) would be perfect. Sony has it's own PlayStation App, which works well, but Nintendo could implement this and expand on it with it's own unique twist to create an experience players want to be a part of.
The final thing Nintendo needs to address is it's own mentality towards the internet and it's features. There are plenty of essentials that PSN and Xbox Live continue to build on that Nintendo refuses to utilize, namely communication. Voice Chat and better Messaging needs to happen.
|Let me talk with my friends while playing games, Nintendo! (image courtesy of zeldainformer)|
Yes, the internet can be vitriolic. And yes, not every player is going to be nice to other players, but in order to make the Mii system expand and incorporate a trophy-esque system, the online social features need to be expanded to match that of the competition. Party matchmaking and social media integration is also a plus, but the voice chat and messaging are where Nintendo needs to start. Limit the usage or offer the option to turn these features off for specific games that are being aimed at a younger audience, but don't make everyone suffer to 'protect' the younger audience.
These are the starting blocks that need to be addressed. For years the company has taken hits for it's refusal to upgrade this system of online features and usage. From being unable to tie everything to one ID to the inability to use the gaming systems to communicate with friends online easily, it's time to change. If these features listed above can be implemented appropriately, Nintendo could not only catch up to Sony and Microsoft, the company could supersede it's competition as the leader in how to build a positive social structure within it's gaming world.