Exclusive: In an Xbox Live world, Nintendo defends online Wii service

Nintendo’s online service is better than most hardened gamers give it credit for. At least that’s what company spokesman Kit Ellis told Infendo in an interview last week.

When asked how the popularity of Xbox Live and PSN have encouraged Nintendo to rethink their online strategy in planning their next console, Ellis turned the conversation back to the present. “The Wii is here now, so let’s talk about its online offerings rather than speculating on the future,” he said. “The idea of online services is incredibly broad, so I’ll point to a few specific products that spotlight what Wii can do online.”

Although not as usable as either Xbox Live or PlayStation Network when connecting with others, Ellis said Nintendo’s free Wi-Fi Connection is more than capable of satisfying wired gamers, especially in light of recent improvements such as demos.

“For downloadable games, Fluidity, which launched earlier in December, is a great showpiece for our WiiWare downloadable games service,” Ellis said. “It’s packed with a lot of fresh ideas that pull from a number of genres, utilizes fun motion controls and has a really creative presentation. There’s a demo available for the game now, so there’s really no reason not to try it out.”

He goes on to say, “Our library of hundreds of downloadable classic titles via the Virtual Console has no equal. As far as head-to-head online play, we’ve seen a tremendous response from players that are really enjoying what GoldenEye 007 has to offer. That’s a game only available for Wii, and of course we have other classic Nintendo franchises with strong online offerings, such as Mario Kart Wii.”

Lastly, Ellis points to Netflix streaming on Wii. “That’s an instance where the Wii Remote makes for a very smooth user experience,” he says.

Since first launching in 2006, Nintendo’s online service has been heavily criticized for its use of hard-to-remember friend codes, which some games require to play online with friends. Playing with strangers is as easy on Wii as it is on Xbox 360 or PS3, but communication tools including voice chat and texting have largely been missing from online-enabled Wii games.

For the full interview with Ellis, stay tuned for this week’s episode of Infendo Radio, hitting Internet airwaves Saturday morning.