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During its semi-regular web-video series, Nintendo Direct, Nintendo Chief Executive Satoru Iwata unveiled the Wii U’s answer to Microsoft’s Xbox Live and Sony’s PlayStation Network online services: Miiverse will bring online and social integration deep into the game-playing experience.

The upcoming Wii U system, due out by the end of 2012, along with its (pictured above) Gamepad controller (the new, official name), will allow players to access an always-on network of connected gamers. A stream of posts will alert Wii U owners to their friends’ achievements and Twitter-like messages in their games.

Iwata emphasized that the Miiverse is natively integrated into every level of the Wii U and its games. From what was shown, this could make the social aspect of Xbox Live look antiquated by comparison. Instead of simple cross-game voice chat, Miiverse will provide data from your friends even in the games themselves. For example, in what looked like a New Super Mario Bros. overworld screen, players were leaving notes about levels as they play them. Those messages then get filtered into other players’ games, which could create a high level of connectivity and togetherness. It’s like leaderboards on PCP.


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Since the service is available online, Nintendo will make Miiverse accessible on PCs, Macs, and smartphones. Iwata didn’t say they were working on an iPhone or Android app; instead he seemed to suggest the online network would be accessed via your phone’s browser.

Other features include video chat, hand-written text messages with the Wii U Gamepad’s stylus, and the ability to instantly upload screenshots from your game.

In the Nintendo Direct video, the publisher also revealed new information about its Wii U Gamepad and the Wii U Pro Controller.

This announcement from the Japanese hardware company represents a 180-degree change from the Internet strategy of the last two Nintendo systems, the Wii and GameCube, which treated online as an afterthought (or no-thought, when it came to the GameCube). It was clear that the Wii U would have to bring something along these lines, but it is still surprising to gamers conditioned to think that Nintendo will never catch up to Microsoft and Sony.

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