Wii-OOPS! Patching Expectations and The Perils of Early Adoption
I’m certainly happy for those who bought WiiU on launch day and are excited about it. It’s the first new console in a long time, and new beginnings are always special times. The World Wide Web has been abuzz with chatter about WiiU for a couple of days now, as people check in with their experiences– good and bad. It’s an interesting indicator for those who were on the fence about getting a WiiU as to whether buying the console now is a good idea… or whether it’s wiser to hang back and wait awhile.
I wasn’t interested in WiiU at all, so I wasn’t going to be convinced to drop $300+ on it now. I will say that, after reading testimony from individuals whose opinions I value, I wouldn’t have bought WiiU right now if I had been interested. The WiiU hardware shipped to stores incomplete, requiring a hefty (more than 1GB in size) patch to make it complete. The operating system is reportedly very sluggish. Miiverse, Nintendo’s new social network, reportedly is seeing extreme moderation of posts and content. (For example, a young man named Killian couldn’t use his name because the word “kill” is part of the name.) The Gamepad has issues with range and line of sight, which affects its functionality away from the WiiU console. Nintendo Network accounts are (for now) tied exclusively to the console you play on, so you can’t sign in from a friend’s house. Functionality for TVii and DLC have yet to be implemented, despite being talked up pre-launch. Another firmware patch is expected to remedy this sometime in December.
Those are just the main gripes I’ve heard about. I’m sorry, but I wouldn’t waste my money for the privilege to own a system that is as problematic as it is allegedly enjoyable.
What I find interesting about defensive reaction to the criticism that the WiiU launch has received is that defenders are quick to point out that launch woes are acceptable because:
- The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 both had their own issues at launch, but we seem to have forgotten.
- We live in a “ship first, patch later” world. Being upset or critical of launch problems is wrong because the problems will be fixed.
Basically, there’s nothing to see here. Deal with it.
I’m reminded of when I bought my original PlayStation back in 1995. I had issues with it because I was using a Zenith television set that the PlayStation was apparently incompatible with; Sony was unable to identify this as an issue for weeks after launch. I wound up returning the PlayStation that I bought to Electronics Boutique to get another one. I was upset; $300 down the drain and Sony was zero help. I wound up “fixing” the problem by hooking the PlayStation up to a different TV set– and later wound up dropping extra money on my GxTV to completely rectify the problem.
Back then, when I was upset, there was more of an empathetic response to the situation. These days, when a console doesn’t work like it’s supposed to (or if a game doesn’t work as advertised, in fact), that right to be upset or critical has been rescinded. The Internet is understood to solve any and all problems. A fix is just a patch away, so if it doesn’t work right on Day One, play something else and wait for the fix like everyone else. That’s just the way things are now, according to most people. Just accept it.
See, I don’t think that I can “just accept it.” I’m surprised that so many people are willing to make excuses for this kind of thing and basically nullify any kind of industry accountability. I’m trying to figure out when it became wrong to expect hardware and software to function as promised upon purchase. Instead, we are just supposed to allow time for patching and updating before we can consume what we spent our money on. It’s almost as if expecting things to work properly is a sign of entitlement. It’s asking too much for these things to work as they should when they ship to stores.
I have other reasons for getting off of the early adopter train. Buying a 3DS at launch in March of 2011 was perhaps my biggest waste of money ever. It was missing functionality at launch, which took eight weeks to add. Games were sparse, with many delays. And, of course, the big kick in the unmentionables was the sudden price drop by nearly half after less than six months on the market. Ambassador status or not, free ROMs didn’t make up for my feeling like an absolute idiot for having paid twice what I could have paid by waiting a few months. That’s when I decided that, from then on, I’d be waiting at least six months after release on new hardware purchases. That attitude hasn’t changed a year later, despite WiiU and the upcoming Xbox and PlayStation followups.
Perhaps, down the line and presuming that Nintendo fixes at least some of the issues that have plagued the WiiU launch period, I’ll look into getting one. I never say never when it comes to getting video game hardware. For now, though, these issues are enough to keep me away from the fence entirely when it comes to wanting a WiiU and make me even more wary of new hardware launches from Sony and Microsoft when they happen in a year or so. I’m sure that people will make up the same reasons to excuse those companies from criticism during those console launches, and I’ll choose to avoid any peril that comes with early adoption.