The Nintendo Wii U launch got off to a bang last night with a midnight celebration in the Big Apple.
In the ensuing hours, sales for the new gaming console have been brisk with some stores reporting that inventory has been sold out. Others are predictably trying to sell the hardware on eBay for above market prices.
But not everything has gone as smoothly as Nintendo would have liked for its first console launch in six years. And, there’s no real-world button that will allow Nintendo to restart this day over again.
What’s more, not all of the video services are launching as expected. Nintendo said on Friday that Amazon Instant Video and Hulu Plus will not be available at launch. Additionally, its own TVii service, which allows customers to access their TV guide from the GamePad controller and to change the channel from their set-top box using infrared technology, will also not be available. The Netflix app will be available immediately with the rest coming in December.
A message on Nintendo’s Facebook page today warned that the Miiverse is overcapacity. “Oops. So many Miis have jumped on Miiverse that some may be having problems connecting to the service. We are in the engine room getting it fixed!,” the post said. The status update received more than 1,000 “likes” and 300 comments in four hours.
Nintendo did not immediately reply to emails seeking comment.
The Miiverse problems, however, seem to be taking a backseat to the massive software update that all owners must install out of the box. Customers online are reporting hours-long download times, surely made worse by the number of people all trying to get it on day one.
“The very first thing you need to do is download a system update that’s well over 1 gig in size. It took me 2.5 hours to get it,” writes one reviewer on Amazon.com, adding that every single game also requires an update. In general, he calls the operating system and user interface slow. “Want to go to settings? 15 seconds. Want to visit Miiverse? Another 15 seconds. Want to click on a message in Miiverse? Yep, another 15 seconds. Everything is dreadfully slow.”
Kotaku reports that the download rates are reaching up to four or five hours and that the firmware update could be as large as five gigabytes. The update is needed if players want to access online features, transfer data from another Wii and visit the Miiverse.
Some first-day hiccups can be expected on launch days and can be magnified by the fact that consumers are so excited to rip open the box and get started. It’s an act that will likely be repeated Christmas morning, unless Nintendo acts fast to get more server capacity. Despite the disruptions, Nintendo is benefiting from the number of diehard fans that are eager to get their hands on the new console, which is luckily the only new gaming hardware coming out this holiday season.
Today, two configurations became available for sale, including a basic set that costs $300 and a deluxe version that costs $350 and comes with more storage and the Nintendo Land video game. A strong line-up, including more than 20 games from many third-parties, are also for sale.