"Hey, I think I'll turn on my Wii and check what my friends are playing!" - nobody, ever
How many friends did you have on your Wii? Did you give your friend code to anyone? I think I have 5 friends on the Wii, and I'm not sure about that number because the last time I even went on the Wii and looked at anything having to do with friends was probably two or three years ago. The memory gets a bit hazy that far back, especially when you have young kids.
Not that having friends on the Wii meant much anyway. I had people's Mii's show up in my Mii Plaza and some games, and I think I tried sending a message to one of my friends, once. Other than that, having or not having friends didn't significantly impact my gameplay in any way. Each game, if online multiplayer was available, had their own way of managing friends and setting up games, so the Wii friend list didn't factor into it.
Since those bad old days of Wii Friend codes are now behind us, I'm looking forward to adding friends that actually mean something. With the Wii U Nintendo is implementing a Nintendo ID, and hopefully it will be a lot easier to search for and add friends.
Here's my hope, and Nintendo hasn't said anything about this yet, so this is just conjecture on my part. I hope that from the WaraWara Plaza, we can see who is playing which games on a regional level. And I hope that from the WaraWara Plaza we can make friend requests, to people who seem to be interested in the same games we are. Being able to add friends from within the WaraWara Plaza is a critical feature that Nintendo needs to implement.
If adding friends is difficult, people aren't going to feel as connected to the community. If Nintendo wants to promote the Miiverse and grow the community base, it needs to offer easy and simple ways for people to connect with each other. A simple feature like checking your twitter or Facebook friends to see who has a Nintendo ID and automatically requesting their friendship, wouldn't that be awesome? It would seem like that kind of functionality would be a basic requirement for a new social network to grow.
I'm afraid that Nintendo is only going to offer a basic friending system, where you can only add people if you know their Nintendo ID. While it's one step up from a friend code, it's still basically the same thing. Call it a friend code, a Nintendo ID, call it whatever you want, just make it easier for people to find each other. Otherwise Miiverse and WaraWara Plaza will be something that looks good on paper, but never gets used. And that would be a crying shame.
Tune in tomorrow for "3 days out from Wii U... Monster Hunter!"