Talking tech since 2003

Nintendo’s latest game console, the Wii U, launched on Sunday, but its the console’s downloadable system update that has stolen the spotlight; at least, for the time being.

The update, which adds the Miiverse, eShop, and Wii backwards-compatibility features to the console, begins downloading immediately after a user starts up the Wii U console and connects to the Internet. The update is huge, at approximately 5 GB. Nintendo’s servers have been frustratingly slow for many who are downloading the update, causing the process to take two to three hours. Worse yet, some consoles are being rendered completely useless — nothing more than expensive ($299 or $349) paperweights — thanks to a “bricking” issue some are having with the update.

So what’s causing the problems? It seems that issues with power or Internet connectivity during the update can throw a wrench into the process. Some hardware companies put safeguards in place should such a problem occur, ensuring that a user whose power goes out, or whose Internet goes down, can still complete the download and install the update once their utilities are back online.

In this case, it seems Nintendo did not work such functionality into the Wii U’s update process.

The sluggish performance of Nintendo’s servers for users downloading the update has only added to the problem. Since consoles are taking longer to download the update from Nintendo, the system is involved in the update process for a longer period of time, increasing the odds for some kind of power/Internet catastrophe to occur.

A console that is bricked thanks to a software update is almost certainly covered by the Wii U’s warranty, and by the product return periods of most stores. However, with the Wii U selling out at a number of locations, and with the number of users who may be experiencing the same issues, getting a replacement console doesn’t seem like it’ll be a piece of cake but, rather, an ordeal.

We’ll update this article with more information as it comes in.

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