Why you should care that Nintendo’s social network Miiverse sunsets in November
We’ve known for a while that social network Miiverse would eventually be closing, but Nintendo confirmed the news and the official death date yesterday on its Japanese site. For those hoping it may only affect Miiverse in its home country, a second shot has since been fired on Nintendo’s North American site: Miiverse shuts down at 1 a.m. EDT on November 8th (10 p.m. PDT on November 7).
Miiverse wasn’t an MMO, but social-minded MMO players might care about the sunset all the same because of the MMO-like games it effectively serviced and the multiplayer future it could have heralded. While Nintendo cites the reality that users have migrated to other social media platforms as the reason to shut the service down, the fact remains that Miiverse integration made a lot of Nintendo games more multiplayer. Nintendo’s clumsy code system could often be circumvented through Miiverse, allowing people to add new friends by seeing who was active on a game’s Miiverse page, looking through profiles, and requesting to add buddies to friend lists. Miiverse profiles allowed not just text and mentioning of favorite games or personal interests but also custom art, something we still infrequently see in MMOs.
Although the Nintendo Switch has integrated social media options to other platforms, you cannot add a Twitter friend to your Nintendo friend list via Twitter. You can scour Facebook feeds for people who play the same games you do, but that’s a scary place many people avoid outside of work. The Switch still lacks any kind of communication system for console friends, even via text (SplatChat is too limited and too weird).
Miiverse was a reasonably safe and decently integrated tool that brought new life to many games when connected to the internet. Especially for smaller games, it gave people a way to form communities and communicate in ways Nintendo had never previously sanctioned. It gave me hope that maybe, eventually, Nintendo would “get” online gameplay and properly integrate it. So when Miiverse goes away and leaves games like Splatoon 1 without art and Super Mario Maker creators without a built-in feedback system, it won’t just kill those communities — it’ll greatly diminish the essence of many games on the platform.