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Rumor: Wii U To Have Open Online System, Possibly Using EA Origin

by Phil Kollar on Nov 13, 2011 at 12:35 PM

With new game hardware finally on the way after five-plus years of using the same systems, it's time for the rumor floodgates to open. I recommend taking this info with a heavy grain of salt and preparing to not have a real answer until whenever Nintendo decides to spill the good about the Wii U.

The relatively new Nintendo fan site Wii U Go brings us this rumor, which supposedly comes from an EA intern by way of a friend who's a network engineer at the publisher. If that sounds several steps too far removed to be trustworthy, we'll get to that.

The crux of the rumor is that Nintendo has been working closely with third-party developers to help build the Wii U's online infrastructure. Since many of those developers expressed annoyance that Xbox Live is such a closed system, Nintendo will be embracing a more flexible, open-ended philosophy that should make working on the system less annoying for third-party publishers and developers.

Here's where things get more interesting (if exponentially more questionable as well): Supposedly Nintendo is in talks with EA to make EA's Origin service the digital distribution platform for Wii U. This would grow Origin significantly for EA and (according to the source) help Nintendo win back Western gamer support by putting their digital distribution strategy in the hands of a company that understands what gamers want from an online platform.

The source says that Valve has also talked to Nintendo about using Steam on the Wii U, but EA is "aggressively persuading Nintendo."

Now as said previously, this supposed source is an intern who has talked to a network engineer. In other words, you should be very skeptical about this. If I had to put down money, my best guess would be that the open online infrastructure is accurate but that if Nintendo and EA are talking about bringing Origin to Wii U, it's probably a very minor point of discussion that's not terribly likely to happen.

That said, even if we're being skeptical, we can still consider this hypothetical future. Do you think Origin being a part of Wii U would make sense? Would that help you believe in Nintendo's ability to do online better than they did on the Wii?

It's a weekend, so getting in touch with either Nintendo or EA for a comment on this story is difficult. We'll update if we hear back, though.

[Thanks to Corey for the tip]