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Wii U's Miiverse won't require Friend Codes, explained in upcoming Nintendo Direct

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Nintendo's social network built into the Wii U won't require the use of Friend Codes to connect with other players, says Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, instead utilizing different methods to bring players together.

Iwata says that Miiverse, which can be used from all Wii U games, is designed to create more communication and "empathy" between players.

"[F]or our past platforms, users had to exchange a number called a 'Friend Code' with each other to build a Friend relationship, where data could be transferred between two specific devices," Iwata explained during an investor Q&A last week. "This process was set up to prevent users from being harassed by the few people who like to behave in an inappropriate manner when playing games. For Wii U, as those who have empathized with each other can create a Friend relationship, the important mission of 'Miiverse' is to increase the number of friends to play games with."

When Nintendo first unveiled Miiverse in a video released just before E3 2012, it showed Wii U players connecting to each other through Miiverse by empathizing with fellow players over shared difficulties. It's currently unclear whether that will be the defining restriction for connecting Wii U players.

Iwata says that Miiverse will also serve as a means to discover new games through friends.

"[I]f you have more friends to play games with, you will inevitably have more chances to encounter new games," Iwata said. "As there are many excellent but buried games in the world, and you must be impressed by some of them, the important mission of 'Miiverse' is to create opportunities to let you know about such games without spending our finite advertising budget on it.

"As 'Miiverse' is not confined to dedicated gaming platforms and will be available on smart devices in the near future, we hope that, even on a train where many people are using smart devices, you will know how your gaming friends are enjoying their games."

Additional Miiverse details will be revealed in an upcoming episode of Nintendo Direct, Iwata said, hopefully revealing specifics on Nintendo's still murky online plans for the Wii U.

Nintendo will release the Wii U on Nov. 18 in North America. The Wii U will be released on Nov. 30 in Europe and Australia, then on Dec. 8 in Japan.

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