This has been nagging at me for quite some time now, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it until Reggie's talk this morning. As the videos for Mario Kart Wii rolled onscreen, Reggie emphasized the online features MKW will have. It seemed to me he put particular emphasis on the words "Real time" and "battle".
Whoawhoawhoawhoa, stop the presses! Playing against other people? Online? So that when I do something, they can immediately see it? AMAZING! We haven't seen ANY of these ideas before from anyone! ... Well, no, we have. Just not from Nintendo.
Nintendo dropped the ball a long time ago with the online. It was a mistake to not have an ethernet port built-in to the GCN. It was a mistake to take a full year to get the DS online. It was a mistake to introduce the ridiculous friend code system. It was... I think I've made my point. While you've been able to kick ass in all kinds of games online for years, you haven't been able to do it on the Cube or Wii.
So when Nintendo finally gets their act together, there's not much they can do. They can make a big fuss about how they're online now, and you can finally race people in MKW in "Real time". Big whoop. They'll draw criticism for being late to the game, but it's a better idea than not saying anything. If they don't say anything, the world will never get out their that they've finally made it online. Nintendo's stuck right now, and if they ever wanted to be serious about online play, they should have gotten into it a long time ago.
But because they've waited so long, it doesn't matter. Most games for the Wii, with major exceptions to Smash Brothers Brawl and MKW, don't need to be online. The Wii isn't focused on playing games with people you don't know from around the world - it's focused on playing games with people you know. I hope most of you would agree with me that Wario Ware: Smooth Moves is much more entertaining when playing with friends, who make you jump out of your seat and actually flap your arms like an idiot. Sure, you can play Wii Tennis by just flicking your wrist, but it's so much more fun to have a room full of friends, all whipping their arms back and forth.
If you move the Wii online, that all gets lost. Suddenly, you can't see your friends around you, acting like idiots. You're just playing another game. That may work very well for Halo or Gears of War, but the Wii isn't built for those absolutely intense multiplayer matches. When Brawl comes out, that will change, but Brawl should be online. Yes, Nintendo's missed the boat, but they've decided to drive along the coast instead.