GET OFF MY SCREEN. (Credit: Kotaku)
Upon launching Wii U, this is what we see on our TV screens. Named “Warawara Plaza” by Nintendo, from a Japanese term meaning something like “chatter”, this is apparently supposed to showcase other Wii U owners throughout the Miiverse, and the games they’re playing.
Six months after my launch-day purchase of a Wii U, I find myself asking, what’s the point?
Warawara Plaza doesn’t accomplish anything. It just floats there on the TV, showing whatever newer games Nintendo wants us to know about, randomly throwing up speech bubbles from Miiverse comments and illustrations, while Miis wander aimlessly in clusters and canned music and gibberish speech loops in the background audio track.
Basically, it serves no useful purpose.
I have never used a PlayStation 3 and only played on an Xbox 360 a couple of times, so I can’t say much about how their startup screens and OS interfaces feel. But even without that benefit, I think I can offer some ideas as to how Nintendo can replace Warawara Plaza with something beneficial to gamers — and to Nintendo.
Show off the eShop. Give us something resembling the dashboard that advertises eShop offerings that are new, best-selling, on sale or perhaps overlooked. Customize it to ensure it doesn’t advertise games already owned by the user. Come up with a simple algorithm to match games to the apparent tastes of the logged-in player: for example, show me sports titles and action platformers, but not games aimed at kids.
Highlight what’s on. The Wii U’s TVii app has a lot of promise, but since it’s kind of buried on the GamePad menu screen, I often forget I even have it. Since it can be programmed to remind me of when my favorite shows are coming on or when a team I follow is playing, perhaps a TV guide could occupy some real estate on the start-up screen.
Localize it! I actually enjoyed and used the News and Weather channels on my Wii. They don’t make sense on the Wii U with its far more robust web browser, but similar technology could create a nice little “happening now in my area” launch screen: current weather conditions and forecast, a couple of news headlines, etc. Or customized headlines for topics I care about. Speaking of which…
Finally make the dang thing social! Miiverse is nice and has its moments, but what Wii U really needs is true integration with the major social networks. A good start would be adding Nintendo’s Twitter feed to the start-up screen. After Nintendo finally adds some Facebook and Twitter apps (there is no indication they will, but here’s hoping anyway), users could customize the start-up screen to show Twitter or Facebook feeds they care about.
Make big events even bigger. With E3 starting this week, wouldn’t it be great if, as soon as I turned on my Wii U, my start-up screen was showing a live streaming camera from Nintendo’s booth at E3, along with Nintendo’s Twitter feed and links to just-released YouTube videos showing new Wii U and 3DS software? Or if I turn on my Wii U just before or during a Nintendo Direct, it automatically starts playing the video (with a prompt). Suddenly Nintendo increases its outreach and the utility of its console, while connecting with users on a deeper level.
What are your ideas for replacing Warawara Plaza? To be clear, I have no insider knowledge and have not read or heard anything indicating that this is under consideration. But frankly, it’s a useless start-up screen and Nintendo could do MUCH better!