Nintendo recently announced the closure of its social networking service Miiverse. The announcement set off a wave of disappointment from fans of the service. After nearly five years, it’s rather sad to see it go. But, what made so Miiverse so special in the first place?
When Nintendo first announced the Wii U, there was a noticeable focus on its multimedia capabilities. Unlike the original Wii, the Wii U was built to be capable of more than just gaming. For instance, the company tried to appeal to TV watchers with the Nintendo TVii app. But the real standout new feature that the Wii U offered was Miiverse.
Miiverse was Nintendo’s answer to social networks like Facebook and Twitter. What set it apart was that it was a social network that was designed to be all about gaming. Every game and application on the Wii U had its own unique Miiverse community. There, users could post about their findings in the game, and even share screenshots as well as their own custom drawings. Nintendo also used Miiverse to connect with the community on its own by hosting developer interviews and regular contests through the service.
The service was also integrated into many different games. The primary idea behind this was that users would share tips and hints through Miiverse. These posts would then appear in certain titles. (Basically a callout to older times like in the NES era where friends would talk at school about how they got past difficult parts of games.) This made single-player titles feel a lot less lonely and also added a social flare to the overall Wii U experience. While Miiverse did eventually come to the 3DS and there was also a Web version, it really did feel most at home right where it started—on the Wii U. As a result, the end of Miiverse is yet another sign that the Wii U really is all but history at this point.
Miiverse gave players their special place to connect and share with each other, whether it be tips, amazing drawings or jokes.
Miiverse added a layer to the Wii U that wasn’t really available on other platforms. While the Xbox 360 and PS3 and their successors had a lot of social features of their own, Miiverse made the Wii U sort of special. Since it was a network dedicated to gamers, talking about gaming-related topics felt natural. Most gamers who have accounts on other social networks tend to have friends/followers who are non-gamers. As a result, most don’t really post about their hobby outside of connecting with specific communities that are dedicated to it. Since Miiverse was all about gaming, there was none of that awkwardness involved.
While this point may be a bit controversial, I have to say that Nintendo’s influence surrounding the network is what also made it so enjoyable. Moderators were constantly on patrol scoping out users who broke the Terms of Conduct. You were free to post about a lot of things on Miiverse, but Nintendo was very strict when it came to content that wasn’t family-friendly. Those who broke the rules were either temporarily restricted or outright banned. This kind of became a joke among some Miiverse users who would deliberately try and push the envelope, but the policing from Nintendo was typically very well done. It kept the immaturity and toxicity that we see all over the rest of the Internet to a bare minimum, and that was quite refreshing to see. The controlled environment also made parents more open to the idea of allowing their kids to use the service. These kids would typically be barred from having something like a Facebook account due to the potential exposure to inappropriate content and dangerous people. Since that type of behaviour didn’t fly on Miiverse, it was the perfect place for young gamers. It really is a shame that this is all coming to an end.
Miiverse was an idea that only Nintendo could execute. I’m sure Sony and Microsoft could have created their own dedicated social networks if they wanted to, but there was something about Miiverse that made it such a ‘Nintendo’ product. Going through the trouble of building it showed that Nintendo really did understand that people actually use the Internet and want to connect with each other. While this still wasn’t as streamlined and efficient as the social features found on Xbox and PlayStation, it was a neat idea that had its charm. So, why exactly is it closing down?
While not as streamlined as the social features on other consoles, Miiverse was still a solid effort to add a social layer to the Wii U and its games.
When the Switch arrived, this was the first sign that Nintendo was closing the curtain on on Miiverse—the app was totally missing from the system. Instead, Nintendo did the exact opposite of what it did with the Wii U—add native support for Facebook and Twitter posting. Instead of sharing posts on Miiverse, Switch users would have to settle to do it through the very same networks that Nintendo seemed to had previously been trying to shift attention away from. But after all the work that was put into Miiverse, what sense would it make to just abandon it? Well, the answer is rather simple: money.
Being a free service without ads, Nintendo most likely never made any money from Miiverse. The Wii U wasn’t the financial hit that Nintendo expected that it would be, so Miiverse’s community was relatively small. All of this was likely taken to account when deciding whether or not the service would continue on Switch. Now, we’re seeing Nintendo preparing Switch Online, which will be a premium subscription service. This shows that Nintendo sees the value of having an online network that it can truly profit from and something like Miiverse doesn’t fit into that spectrum. It’s a shame, but that’s just the reality of it all. Nintendo is a business after all.
In the end, Miiverse mattered because it was a sign that the company was trying to modernize, albeit in its own ‘Nintendo-like’ way. The service also mattered because it gave gamers their own special spot to connect and share with one another. While the environment was heavily policed, this made the overall experience more open and enjoyable for just about everyone. So Miiverse fans, enjoy these last few months. Try and upload as many final screenshots as possible. To you art masters who are somehow able to design masterpieces on a 6.2-inch touchscreen with nothing but a plastic nub, get those last doodles in for us to shower with “Yeahs!” Thanks for all the memories, Miiverse. You will be missed.