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November 19, 2012

Rather Skip That Wii U Firmware Update? Don't...

By Steve Anderson, Contributing TMCnet Writer

For those out there who have just landed a new Wii U system and are thinking about hooking it up to take advantage of the long holiday weekend, reports have emerged claiming the firmware update that Nintendo will want users to engage in when they get the system hooked up will not only provide a terrific carrot in the form of full functionality, but also a rather large stick for those who want to skip the update altogether.

Many of the features expected to be installed on the Wii U – such as the eShop system, the Miiverse, and backward compatibility with original Wii titles – weren't included with the launch day hardware, though a firmware update that followed brought those functions back into play. While the firmware update wasn't strictly mandatory – many of the Wii U's launch titles were still ready to play regardless of the system's status – to get full functionality as advertised, the update was going to be necessary.

But for those who didn't want to sit around through the update (measured between one and 1.5 gigabytes according to reports, though it was originally thought to go as high as five gigabytes) there was much worse on hand than the inability to access the eShop or get old Miis back into play. Those who weren't interested in committing an hour or more of download time to getting the updates and force quit the installation (or just had it quit for them by a power surge or the like) found that in many cases, the system they just dropped several hundred dollars on was now a several hundred dollar paperweight, as the system had bricked or become unplayable.

Granted, most know not to cut out during a firmware update, or at least not voluntarily, but for an update of that size that could take an hour or more, the standard problems may well crop up. A sudden power outage or power surge, for example, or perhaps a network outage are all the kinds of occurrences that happen most every day somewhere, and even worse, could happen at any time with little warning.

Though the connection problem may not be such a problem, the sheer possibility that a cut connection of any kind – especially if it runs any length of time – could brick your system is revolting to say the least.

Reception for the idea that not only do users need to finish the job of getting all the necessary software installed on their Wii U systems but also may well wind up with a hunk of useless plastic should something go wrong is about as bad as might be expected. The question is, of course, will this affect future sales?

It's probably not going to be long until Nintendo starts putting out versions of the Wii U that have the day-one patch already applied, so for those who wait a bit before buying they'll likely be unaffected. Still, subjecting the truly hardcore who bought on launch day to this kind of indignity can't be good for anyone concerned, and may well color future Nintendo releases. Only time will tell what the true impact of this little launch-day debacle actually is, but unless Nintendo can shore up its likely damaged public perception, they may not like how this comes back on them in the market.

Edited by Allison Boccamazzo
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