When Shigeru Miyamoto speaks, the industry tends to perk up and listen. Recently, the man did an interview where he talked all about the Wii U, from past to present, and present to future. One tough question referred to the Wii U's shifty launch state, with missing apps and atrocious load times.
To that, Miyamoto made no excuses, except a mention that the Wii U project was just such a huge endeavor for Nintendo. Different teams were working on the hardware simultaneously, and the devs really couldn't see how some of these features would work together until the very end. That is to say, not all issues can be detected during testing. Miyamoto explained:
It’s a tough question, certainly, but I think it’s also an accurate observation. For Wii U in particular I would say that in preparing the system for launch, it was a project on an unparalleled scale for Nintendo. We had multiple different teams working on multiple different segments of the hardware and its features simultaneously. Certainly we’d had experience with that type of development designing the 3DS, but with Wii U the scope of the project was far beyond our development of the 3DS hardware. And with many of those features, you don’t get a true sense for how they interact or where the advantages and disadvantages lie within the broader framework until you’re able to bring all the components together into a single unified system.
Even during the testing phase, it’s difficult to ascertain what facets of those interactions between the applications are resulting in inconveniences for the consumer until you have an opportunity for many people and lots of consumers to try these features out — to understand how they’re using those features and what they’re doing as they’re switching between them. Since the system was released, we’ve spent a great deal of time looking at how people are using it and where they feel it can be improved, and we’re currently continuing out preparations for this first major system update that’s coming. What we want to do is make sure that when we release it, that we address as many of the different opinions about how people would like to see the system improve as we can at once. We hope to cover a wide range of requests while simultaneously ensuring it’s a very stable update to the system.
All is not lost, however, because improvements are being made. Nintendo is, of course, planning to update the system in an effort to boost the Wii U's performance, which has been the cause of much consumer annoyance. Rest assured those upgrades are coming, and Miyamoto estimates an arrival time in the summer:
We think that by this summer, the system is going to be very much improved over how it’s performing currently. Of course when it comes to the actual hardware, those decisions have already been finalized, and one of the things we focused on in making those decisions was the speed of the connection between the Wii U system and the Wii U GamePad. We strongly feel the transfer speed between those two devices is so strong that it’s not something that can necessarily be achieved by other devices that haven’t been designed specifically with that in mind. So as we get into these other system-based updates, our anticipation is that because of the amount of effort we’ve dedicated to the GamePad’s wireless connection to the hardware, these additional improvements are going to make for an overall device that’s even more convenient to use.
It's not all bad news, because at the end of the day, Miyamoto supports the hardware. So what does he find most inspiring about the Wii U? The new ways of gaming that the GamePad encourages.
From a gameplay perspective, what interests me most are the new types of play you can create using the Wii U GamePad as either a second or fifth screen when you’re playing split-screen multiplayer.
At the same time, one of the other things I find particularly interesting is, it used to be that when you were playing you had to choose whether you would use the television to watch TV or play games. With Wii U and the Wii U GamePad you can do both at the same time. Similarly, there used to be particular activities that you would perform on your computer, like browsing the Internet, and you would have these different functionalities or features that you would use different devices for. But with Wii U and the Wii U GamePad you can now bring these together in one device, and I think that’s ultimately going to make your TV, when it’s connected to Wii U, a more useful thing in the household.