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Nintendo is shutting down the Nintendo Wii and NDS Wifi Connections
February 28, 2014 11:41 AM   Subscribe

On May 20, Nintendo is shutting down Nintendo Wifi Connection that was used for the Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii [Nintendo WiiU/3DS will be unaffected]. Perhaps the most upset groups are the devoted players of a hacked Super Smash Brothers Brawl, called Project M. This community has devoted time and effort into the 6 year old game, and will have no replacement until the sequel arrives this fall.

The lull in most popular games:
Mario Kart Wii U doesn't arrive until 9 days after the servers come offline.
Super Smash Brothers U doesn't arrive until 9 months after the servers come offline.

This issue may be partially (but unsatisfactorily) resolved by using online servers through Dolphin emulators, but the success of this is unknown until the main servers come offline.

This has caused a small splash in online communities, with posts at reddit and other forums, and articles by mass media outlets like theverge.

Interesting note: When Microsoft tried to do this with Halo 2, several fans kept the servers live by refusing to log off.
posted by bbqturtle (61 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
The running theory is that this is happening because the contract for the software that runs Nintendo's Wii and DS servers is expiring and can't be renewed at a reasonable rate. They originally got Gamespy to provide the architecture for their online multiplayer setup, but Gamespy went ass-over-teakettle a few years ago, and the company was bought out by a firm that apparently is much much less pleasant to work with.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:47 AM on February 28


They originally got Gamespy to provide the architecture

wat
posted by mhoye at 11:48 AM on February 28 [2 favorites]


This also affects my beloved Pokemon series. While I didn't use the service an insane amount, I did use it. I understand that it can't go on forever, but I feel like it shouldn't be too difficult to migrate their servers under the Wii U platform. But I don't know their architecture.

Still, I can't complain too much, its their server to do with what they will.
posted by Twain Device at 11:50 AM on February 28




I like that they are going to keep the places open where you can continue to give them money, but not the things that allow you to use games you already spent money on.
posted by Sequence at 11:51 AM on February 28 [8 favorites]


Last month, I pulled my old Wii out of a storage box for the first time in several years, fired it up and was surprised how fun it still was to play all the wacky sports games. I was kind of shocked to find all the News/Weather widgets on the home screen no longer worked. I understand this thing came out in like 2006, but how hard is it to let it continue to ping a weather API once a day?
posted by mathowie at 11:59 AM on February 28 [17 favorites]


They got around this on the Wii U by having WiFi that never worked.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 11:59 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]


They got around this on the Wii U by having WiFi that never works at all.

My Wii U has really good WiFi connection that seems pretty reliable. Maybe I can help you troubleshoot some problems?
posted by bbqturtle at 12:01 PM on February 28 [3 favorites]


The price we are paying for convenience is that things can be taken away before we are personally done with them.
posted by charred husk at 12:02 PM on February 28 [8 favorites]


As long as Netflix still works I'm personally fine (because having a Netflix device that always defaults to SD streams is a useful thing in a world of bandwidth caps) but this does kinda suck for a lot of people. Weird that they don't find a way to move these games to the Wii U online play servers, it can't be that much of an investment and would net them a lot of good will.
posted by jason_steakums at 12:05 PM on February 28 [2 favorites]


I expect they honestly believe they are doing that when they release sequels.
posted by LogicalDash at 12:06 PM on February 28


Nintendo networking's such a mess -- I do all updates and downloads at work because for some reason my 3DS XL plays well with the router there, while no matter what settings I adjust it hates my router at home. I probably would've kept playing Animal Crossing: New Leaf longer if that hadn't been the case.
posted by asperity at 12:16 PM on February 28


Project M is hugely impressive. I mean, I could just list all the great things about it - expanded roster, modified movesets, balanced gameplay, alternate outfits, even a built-in mode for crew battles - but mainly I love how excited it gets people. Seriously, if you're into Smash Brothers, watch that set and the grand finals from Beast 4.

Nintendo isn't the type to make any special effort to keep a popular mod online, but I was hoping Project M could count on Nintendo continuing to support Brawl. I'm curious to see if this will drive players onto emulators so they can continue to play online, or if they'll just stick to local multiplayer with friends and rivals.
posted by knuckle tattoos at 12:21 PM on February 28 [3 favorites]


Wait, Picross DS is affected? Noooooooo I have to download all the puzzles first.
posted by asperity at 12:22 PM on February 28 [2 favorites]


mhoye: why the "wat"? Gamespy started out as an online game server browser and matchmaking client in the 90s (originally called QSpy) before they branched out into being a general gaming web portal. They kept doing the matchmaking stuff and looks like they offered it for 3rd party licensing.
posted by zsazsa at 12:23 PM on February 28


Why did the self-hosted server paradigm fail to take off? I realize games with independent servers are (almost) PC-only, but Half-Life 2 players will never suffer this fate.
posted by Monochrome at 12:27 PM on February 28


Nooo. Not WarioWare D.I.Y.
posted by RobotHero at 12:28 PM on February 28


This has to be in the running for the most confusingly named service.

So it's called WiFi Connection, but it's just any Internet services/integration for Wii or DS games I might have? It has nothing to do with the WiFi itself except that it makes use of it?
posted by ODiV at 12:29 PM on February 28


Crap. I just realized this will also affect the older Animal Crossings (yeah yeah, get New Leaf)
posted by Twain Device at 12:32 PM on February 28


Why did the self-hosted server paradigm fail to take off?

Probably because you have to forward ports and deal with poking holes in firewalls to get it to work, at least for the person hosting the server.
posted by zsazsa at 12:33 PM on February 28


They have to force people to buy a WiiU somehow, I guess.
posted by winna at 12:37 PM on February 28 [3 favorites]


The only thing I know about Super Smash Brothers Brawl is that it's responsible for two of my favorite things, wombo combo (talk about excited) and this picture
posted by valdesm at 12:51 PM on February 28 [7 favorites]


Nooo. Not WarioWare D.I.Y.

Wario Ware DIY is probably the best thing Nintendo ever released. It's super simplified game making software but held back by the difficulty of sharing games (which is now moot). I'm really surprised there isnt anything like it for mobile/ios
posted by hellojed at 12:54 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]


mhoye: "They originally got Gamespy to provide the architecture

wat
"

zsazsa: "They kept doing the matchmaking stuff and looks like they offered it for 3rd party licensing."

wat indeed that you're a software company and licensed out a critical part of your online game play infrastructure.
posted by wcfields at 12:54 PM on February 28


Ugh, the more I hear of Glu Mobile, the more I dislike them. I was a big fan of their Glyder games series back in 2009, but an iOS update broke compatibility and rather than develop an update for them Glu abandoned them and removed them from the store.

Their Gun Bros game was insane fun, but it was also my introduction to the excesses of the freemium model.

I shall make it a point in the future never to give them another cent.
posted by The Confessor at 12:54 PM on February 28


wat indeed that you're a software company and licensed out a critical part of your online game play infrastructure.

Nintendo and online infrastructure are two things that have never ever mixed well.
posted by kmz at 12:56 PM on February 28 [5 favorites]


My Wii U has really good WiFi connection that seems pretty reliable. Maybe I can help you troubleshoot some problems?

Maybe I have a defective unit. I can never watch more than a few minutes of Netflix before the connection flakes out. Meanwhile the Wii and the Mac Mini right next to the U work great every time. I've tried 3 routers (two Cisco/Linksys, and one Asus). The only thing I haven't done is move the router closer to the Wii U, because why the hell should I?

The Wii U has such a poor user interface, opaque error messages and convoluted setup process that I want to throw the fucking thing in the river. And I would if I didn't love my Mario games. Fuck U, Nintendo. The Wii was so perfect in comparison.

Phew. That feels better.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 12:57 PM on February 28


Crap. I just realized this will also affect the older Animal Crossings (yeah yeah, get New Leaf)

It's seriously the best AC yet. (Although I'm STILL bitter about them taking out the collectible NES games. And Sprocket.)
posted by Dr-Baa at 1:08 PM on February 28 [2 favorites]


(Granted both of those were only in the first AC, but still...)
posted by Dr-Baa at 1:08 PM on February 28


Nintendo and online infrastructure are two things that have never ever mixed well.

On the one hand your platform-wide online infrastructure should always be under your direct control, even if it means just buying the company that's writing the code for you. On the other hand, when you look at how Nintendo has handled its user accounts, online store, etc., this could well be the lesser of two evils.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:08 PM on February 28


Nintendo Video on the 3Ds is also going away.
posted by Otis at 1:11 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]


No more Animal Crossing multiplayer, after they already shut down the thing that let you send mail between towns?

So much grar! Sigh...
posted by AaronRaphael at 1:28 PM on February 28


This is crap, they're still selling Wiis and DS Lites at full retail price.
posted by T.D. Strange at 1:32 PM on February 28 [4 favorites]


This has to be in the running for the most confusingly named service.

Let me put this in perspective: Comcast has a subdivision that provides a hosted video streaming platform and cross-platform player.

The name of the platform is "The Platform."

The name of the player is "The Player."

I dare you to find documentation on that set of products using Google.
posted by verb at 1:36 PM on February 28 [6 favorites]


Yeah, apparently Glu is one of the worst companies out there for this sort of thing. I imagine Nintendo can't really fix this on their end, other than shelling out whatever Glu wants, which is most likely exorbitant considering past history with other companies (noted above) and that they are sort of competitors since Glu develops and publishes mobile games in competition with the DS. Some people have noted that Nintendo may be being classy not mentioning Glu by name, but it seems a very open secret.

But at least it seems that Glu Mobile has a has a 96 percent chance of bankruptcy in the next two years, so maybe at some point someone will buy them and be a lot better to their customers, both corporate and individual. Doesn't help this situation though. :(
posted by tittergrrl at 1:39 PM on February 28


Goddammit Metafilter, I have a TON to say about this but have to go for now. Will say it all, later.
posted by JHarris at 2:27 PM on February 28 [2 favorites]


Did anyone who seriously liked SSB or the modded version really play on wifi(or LAN, with the usb adapter) multiplayer anyways?

I played it quite a bit, and i ALWAYS found it to be an irritatingly laggy mess. Even when it was just me and a friend playing, and we were both in the same city on properly high speed connections.

Why did the self-hosted server paradigm fail to take off? I realize games with independent servers are (almost) PC-only, but Half-Life 2 players will never suffer this fate

Because for console games they're laggy, feel like a cheap-out, and generally pretty crappy? A lot of games like halo(at least the older ones) that only use the servers for matchmaking can be SOOOOO awful with this.

There's also the problems of NAT traversal. PC gamers know all about that stuff and can easily configure their router, but expecting a kid(or their parent) who just bought a nintendo system and expected it to just work to deal with it? yea, not gonna happen.

This also affects my beloved Pokemon series.

Wow i didn't think about this. That's really quite shit actually. You used to be able to use the online service to migrate pokemon to the newer games and now you can't. This seems like it'll make more than a few pokemon SUPER rare in the newer games simply because of lack of a way to transfer any more forward than the ones that are already there.
posted by emptythought at 3:20 PM on February 28


You can't trade between the DS and 3DS locally? That blows.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:43 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]




You can't trade between the DS and 3DS locally? That blows.

Yep, they basically created a paypal for pokemon. It doesn't surprise me, i mean i think each game uses its own weird proprietary interface standard for trading.

So it worked like:

1. Upload pokemon to "box" on server
2. Pokemon is now on nintendo server
3. Open other game, log in, download pokemon from box.

I don't even think you can be signed in on both devices at the same time. It's like a shittier version of google drive but for pokemon.

To be clear, i've never used this service. I haven't even played a pokemon game newer than ruby because my DS got smashed at a party and i never replaced it. But i've heard friends gripe about this shitty system quite a bit.
posted by emptythought at 6:47 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]


On the subject of Nintendo and online services, reminder that apparently no developers at Nintendo were familiar with PSN or Live in the slightest

Wow, Nintendo fucked up from day one.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:08 PM on February 28


WarioWare D.I.Y. would still let you share minigames directly from DS to DS, so now you'll have to start local WarioWare sharing circles, through which minigames can spread, underground.
posted by RobotHero at 7:29 PM on February 28 [2 favorites]


Okay, here at last--

From what I've heard, Nintendo outsourced the development of the original Wii's OS, so it makes sense that they would have outsourced running the servers too. This is a tremendous blow however to Wii fans -- Mario Kart 7's battle mode was designed for online play, to the extent that even local multiplayer battle will be filled out with AI players up to 12, which pretty much sabotaged that game among our group. And now you won't even be able to play that. Huh.

This is just what happens when you outsource all that effort, though. Stuff Nintendo should have done inhouse is now left up to the vagarities of business survival.

The mod scene I think won't ultimately be much harmed, as you can hotpatch Wii games to the extent that fans have created completely new sequels to games that way, like Newer Super Mario Bros. The hardest part would be recreating the servers, but as all these games support local multiplayer anyway, at worst they'll recreate any proprietary server gamecode based off of that -- not a simple task, but these people are committed.

I hate to say it, but the stuff from (the awesomely named) flatluigi's linked Eurogamer article all sounds like par for the course from Nintendo. I think it's possible to save the system, but Nintendo can't do it the way it has been, with minor sequels to prior games like Donkey Kong Country Returns.

There are some nice things about the Wii U -- I actually like the gamepad, and bringing in your own storage via USB drives is something all the major consoles should be doing. I'll be looking forward to the new Zelda, which is supposed to change up the formula greatly, but that's pretty much the only light on the horizon for Wii U owners right now.
posted by JHarris at 7:36 PM on February 28 [2 favorites]


Nintendo and online aren't great friends unified accounts - come on! -, but I think this is blown out of proportion considering that N kept servers online for 6 years free of charge. Compare to Call of Duty Elite (ugh) servers going down after 3 years or to PS+/Xbox Live that require a subscription. I prefer single-player games so I can replay them whenever I want, but it sounds like the main casualty here is Super Smash.
posted by ersatz at 7:36 PM on February 28


I disagree ersatz, but those other examples you give are even worse. It's good that Nintendo bucked the trend towards shutting down online servers early, but even six years is too soon. These things should be up for ten years at least. Actually, the server code should be public, so people can run their own servers.

On this point at least, Valve is far ahead of the competition, and it will be a major point in favor for the Steam Machine.
posted by JHarris at 7:39 PM on February 28


10 years would be nice, but is completely unrealistic seeing as how there are actually servers hosting the games, not just matchmaking. At least as far as i know with this.

Seriously, even on pay services who keeps stuff up that long? Halo 2 lasted longer than anything else i can think of, and that was shut off in 2010.. which is also 6 years. Maybe that feels longer because "oh woah, it's like another decade and stuff!" or something. I don't know.

Did they make a mistake by outsourcing it, and not making it something they could just keep running in the background as a process that wouldn't take up much time on servers they'd use for the wii U? yea. Is it entitled to expect more than 6 years for something that's free? yea, probably.

It was a poor design decision, but not one that you can really super-fault them for.
posted by emptythought at 8:06 PM on February 28


I can, and will, fault them, because I think a lot about the continued life of these games. If not a lot of people are playing them, then it shouldn't cost a great deal just to run a server or two, especially alongside newer games with infrastructure and many more servers. These are large swaths of people's gaming lives that are getting swept away here. If Nintendo announced that worlds 7 and 8 of Super Mario Bros. would henceforth no longer exist, even for people who bought the game at full price, we'd be up in arms.

Because ultimately, this isn't really a free service -- it was part of the purchase price of the game, part of player expectation when they bought it. Nintendo games have a longer tail than something from EA generally, which is why you can still buy these things now. Nintendo still sells Mario Kart Wii and Smash Brawl on store shelves, are they going to mark it down in price now? Are they going to put stickers on them saying online features are now unavailable? How about people who bought these games just last year? What about people who play them two hardware generations from now, when the hidden classics of the Wii's library come up for attention from the retrogaming community, or when gaming historians try to say definite things about features that are passing from memory?
posted by JHarris at 8:55 PM on February 28 [4 favorites]


Pokemon Black and White 2 released less than two years ago, and their trading function is going to die entirely. That's kind of nuts.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:29 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]


The hardest part would be recreating the servers, but as all these games support local multiplayer anyway, at worst they'll recreate any proprietary server gamecode based off of that -- not a simple task, but these people are committed.

Warp Pipe 2.0? That crew did an amazing job for the Gamecube. I have total faith people will be able to put together a fix for a few games, but it does still really suck that they have to.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:33 PM on February 28 [2 favorites]


I'm going to reveal a bit too much about myself here, but: I've been playing Gameloft's My Little Pony game for months now. I have a lot of time invested in it. And emotion, dammit! This is my Ponyville. I like what I've done with the place.

But I'm worried that, since they introduced the Equestria Girls dance mini-game, that they are holding some sort of fire sale. I've acquired 12 ponies in 12 weeks, and that's kind of a big deal. A big part of the dance mini-game is the social aspect, that relies on Gameloft maintaining their MLP servers. A day will come, sooner rather than later I'm afraid, when my little Ponyville will be cut off from the larger universe. And that will be a sad day.

Come what may, it's my town.
posted by SPrintF at 9:55 PM on February 28


Yikes SPrintF, that thing is expensive. But yes, when you add DLC into the mix shutting off servers seems like an even crueler thing.

If seems like I'm being a little entitled here, I am. I am being exactly $49.99 + tax worth of entitled. It is not the role of a consumer to say "that's all right then, I've got enough."
posted by JHarris at 10:49 PM on February 28


So, um. My plan for getting a legitimate Mew, by capturing a bunch of junk Pokemon in Pearl, and beating Black, and White 2, now has to be completed within the next three months? Is that actually the case?
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 11:09 AM on March 1 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't doubt it if Nintendo did something about the Black & White 2 problem considering how this breaks those games. Being DS games there's no way to patch them in the field, but the 3DS supports downloadable apps, it should be possible to trade Pokemon through those.

I wouldn't doubt it, but it wouldn't surprise me if they didn't.
posted by JHarris at 1:56 PM on March 1


Yeah, my point was that this seemed to attract more attention compared to COD etc., not that having games disappear in the ether is in any way the way things should be. It's one of the reasons why I never bothered with MMOs.
posted by ersatz at 4:57 PM on March 1


So let's say I'm a developer (I am)... a game developer (I'm not).

I work at an A-List studio on a not-quite-A-List game, or at a not-quite-A-List studio on an A-List game. Basically, my project doesn't have enough muscle to be creating its own networking protocols or cloud infrastructure.

What would you suggest that I suggest to my boss, as a way to store our players' data and enable sharing features? What platforms or standards are available for that purpose? And just to clarify: I'm not referring to "sharing" like posting high scores on Facebook... I mean real sharing, that affects gameplay in a non-contrived way and adds features to the game.
posted by Riki tiki at 5:31 PM on March 1


Who, are you asking me? Really, those features take time, effort and money to implement and sustain. You shouldn't try unless you're prepared to keep it going.

If you wanted to do right by players without chaining yourself to a long-running expense, you probably shouldn't get into server-based games. But if you had to do it for some reason, go the Valve route and offer the code to players for free to run. That way, even if you have to shut your own game down, players can keep it going themselves. And that way your market doesn't decrease when you decide online features are too onerous to support relative to what you think the bad will you'll earn from players will be for disabling a major part of a game they paid for.
posted by JHarris at 8:50 PM on March 1 [2 favorites]


Or alternatively, don't advertise the multiplayer on the box. Offer it as a "beta" feature in the interface, a fun extra, instead of a core feature, a major reason to buy it. Of course, that means you'll probably sell a few less units. But that's the point, those will be similar to the people who will be upset if you shut the server off early anyway.

The key is to be up front about the tentativeness of multiplayer, to purposely not imply that this is going to be around forever. Of course with this event, players are going to be more concerned, generally, with how long multiplayer features will remain available, both in general and from Nintendo specifically. Over the long run the problem will solve itself -- in the form of buyers becoming more wary about it generally, and weighting against online multiplayer in their buying decisions.
posted by JHarris at 10:01 AM on March 2


I guess i'm just not getting this. 7 years is really long for a console online titles servers to keep running. Some of the phantasy star games only stayed up for four years. I did a lot of searching and i could not find a console game with online features which outlasted this with the exception of final fantasy XI, and i feel that doesn't fully count because it's also a PC title and it's a pay to play MMO.

I looked up every console online title i could think of. Virtually every early 6th-gen console title with online launched around 02-03(and really, more towards the later end besides a few stragglers) and lasted generally not even until 2010 unless it was just really simple stuff that piggybacked on the most basic xbox live features and had user-hosted servers(which most 6th gen consoles, and games didn't really do since the games basically maxed the systems out anyways).

Even if you measure the date from the launch of the game, not the console... we're still at 6 years easily, which is towards the longer tail of the pack for console games still. Shit, there's 7th gen console titles that online is shut off for now.

I understand "do better", but not so much "THIS IS AN OUTRAGE I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS I PAID MONEY" type of responses.

A lot of those would be much better stated from the viewpoint of people feeling shafted on pokemon BW2 and a lot of the later DS titles, but the wii games really got about the same time frame as the original xbox games did.

Also, anyone who thinks that nintendo would ever open up their server software or anything like that is a complete clown. Nintendo is like apple with this stuff. Either they handle the whole experience, or there is no experience. Can that be crappy? Yea. But there's absolutely no precedent for them or any other company to open up software on a console like that.

I guess it's mostly, and especially with the wii online... what do you expect them to do? Move to new servers and issue an OTA patch to all existing systems to get them to connect to the new, not tied up in the former gamespy servers service? It wouldn't surprise me if there's stuff deep within each games code and the system OS that's tied to the way the current system works. the bugtesting/QA to do that for a system that while it's still technically for sale, has long stopped receiving OS updates is mindboggling. It reminds me of the people insisting that microsoft keep patching XP.
posted by emptythought at 6:18 PM on March 2


The Wii isn't "still technically for sale", it's still in production. You can stroll on down to the store and buy a brand new one.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:08 PM on March 2 [1 favorite]


I guess i'm just not getting this. 7 years is really long for a console online titles servers to keep running. Some of the phantasy star games only stayed up for four years.

Exactly right. I say ten years not because it is reasonable, but because it is a little beyond what most people would think is reasonable, no one could fault them for it, even me, even players who care even more about it than I would. That is what excellent customer service looks like. That is what the Nintendo of old did often, and happily. They kept their Famicom mail-in disk writer service going seventeen years after the disk drive's release, well into the Gamecube era.

The thing is, running a small number of servers for a game few people are playing is not terribly expensive -- especially if you're running other online games at the same time. These things should be factored into the costs of doing business when you make online games.

I understand "do better", but not so much "THIS IS AN OUTRAGE I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS I PAID MONEY" type of responses.

I understand them both. So here we are.

Also, what Pope Guilty said. No only is the Wii still in production, but the games whose online features are being disabled at still good sellers -- one of them is Mario Kart Wii, which is the best-selling Mario Kart game to date, and the only Mario Kart to support online multiplayer. (The Gamecube Mario Kart, Double Dash, supports LAN play, which can go online using Warp Pipe, but that's entirely a fan product.)

I guess it's mostly, and especially with the wii online... what do you expect them to do? Move to new servers and issue an OTA patch to all existing systems to get them to connect to the new, not tied up in the former gamespy servers service?

It's not what I expect them to do now, it's what I would have expected them to do when they started on this. The Wii's deficiencies are well-known -- it's impossible to hot-patch already sold disk games on that platform. Their only solution to keep the services going is to do it themselves, and they aren't prepared for it. That boat has sailed, Nintendo messed up, and the situation is hopeless. Nintendo's hands are pretty much tied here. But they were the ones who tied them, it's all a result of their own decisions.
posted by JHarris at 9:28 PM on March 2


(Well... it's not impossible to hot patch Wii games, but it uses mechanisms that only fans and hackers have shown themselves willing to use.)
posted by JHarris at 2:51 AM on March 3


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