Of the three console manufacturers' latest systems, only the Wii U doesn't offer the ability to stream live gameplay through Twitch. That's not because of an oversight or because it's on a to-do list, but instead because Nintendo doesn't find that kind of thing fun.
"We don't think streaming 30 minutes of gameplay by itself is a lot of fun," Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime told Polygon. He noted that the company doesn't have anything against Twitch, and in fact it's made use of it to stream some of its E3 shows this week. But it all comes down to whether the experience of simply watching someone play a game is entertaining.
"Your specific question of just purely streaming gameplay, what we've got to think through is, so what's fun about that? From a consumer standpoint, what's fun about it?" Fils-Aime continued.
That stance will no doubt stand in stark contrast to the views of many gamers, myself included--Nintendo's old games, in particular, I've found especially fun to watch.
It's a stance that's also the direct opposite of the one taken by Sony and Microsoft. The PlayStation 4 offered Twitch streaming right at launch, and quickly proved to be popular, as 20% of Twitch's streams late last year originated from PS4. Xbox One streaming was expected at launch, but wasn't added until March. Still, both consoles now prominently offer a way to stream live gameplay over the Internet for others to watch.
Nintendo's answer to demands to share content is something like Mario Kart TV, the new Mario Kart 8 feature that allows replays and highlight reels to be saved and uploaded to YouTube. "Kart is fun because its a highlight of the race," Fils-Aime said. "You can make some choices as to what parts are going to be shared. We think that makes it interesting."
He also pointed to it streaming its Super Smash Bros. E3 tournament this week as something that's worthwhile. That's because, according to Fils-Aime, it offers something more than a simple stream of gameplay, both by promoting a game and allowing viewers to learn new tricks. "But that's different than watching Joe Blow's 30 minute stream, which may or may not have something that's all that interesting," he said. This, of course, ignores things like supremely entertaining speed runs, including those of Nintendo's own games.
Nintendo, which has historically been slow to adopt new technologies, be it disc-based media or online support, could very well be mistaken in its evaluation of streaming. A report in April stated that Twitch is the largest live-streaming website in the United States by a wide margin, beating out the likes of ESPN and WWE. Last month, it was reported that Google's YouTube was working on a deal to acquire the site for $1 billion and that Microsoft had also been interested in an acquisition. And eSports, which would include things like Super Smash Bros. tournaments, have proven to be phenomenally popular--more than 2.4 billion hours of eSports content were watched last year alone.
Nintendo has had a contentious relationship with those sharing videos of its games online for some time. At one point, it was claiming ad revenue off of user-created YouTube videos featuring its games. More recently, it announced plans for an affiliate program--or what some have called a tax--that will see Nintendo share money with YouTubers. Specific details on the program have yet to be announced.
Would you like to see Twitch streaming come to Wii U? Share your thoughts on streaming in the comments below.