Expectations should be kept in check, of course. This is Nintendo. This isn't a company known for leading in online gaming. But they are a company that's been able to bring gamers together in unexpected ways. They did it back in the day with Mario Kart and again with Wii Sports. Their online offerings have gradually improved, though the late launch for the 3DS' eShop revealed them to be a company that's yet to make their online services as high a priority as the launch of their consoles.


Consider this: back in 2006, the know-it-alls in the press, myself included, thought that the Wii was Nintendo's big thing, and by "Wii" I mean "Wii Sports" and the controller and the unassuming little white box that ran the game. What no one was talking about then until we got it in our homes were the Miis, those little avatars that everyone who touched the Wii just had to create and tweak for themselves. These little avatars, like Microsoft's Achievements, proved to be one of the smartest innovations in this past console generation. They just weren't the ones whose impact we saw coming. We didn't see the brilliance of them until they were live and changing gaming as we knew it. If Nintendo creates a gaming version of Facebook and bakes it into our consoles and handheld, well, then maybe they'll be able to stealthily transform what we expect from console gaming all over again.