Close
Are you sure? Are you sure you want to report this comment? I understand, report it. Cancel

Large Wii U firmware update reportedly bricking consoles

Large Wii U firmware update reportedly bricking consoles

Mon 19 Nov 2012 10:53am GMT / 5:53am EST / 2:53am PST
Hardware

Slow install prompts consumers to reset, incapacitating machines [UPDATED]

Update: Eurogamer tech expert Rich Leadbetter informs us that the update is 1GB, not 5GB as was originally reported. You're left with 25GB of useable space on the flash storage after it has installed. The installation process took 11 minutes. GamesIndustry International has also reached out to Nintendo for further comment.

Original story:

It has been reported that a mandatory firmware update for the Wii U requires up to 5GB of storage space, potentially leaving customers who bought an 8GB unit without enough room to install Nintendo Land. In addition, the update has been installing so slowly for some that customers have been resetting or powering down their Wii U before the process has finished, 'bricking' the console for good.

Ben Fritz, of the LA Times, tweeted a warning to consumers about unplugging or resetting during the update process, which he claims lasted over two hours.

"Warning: don't unplug your Wii U during the 2 hour plus software update or the console stops working."

Ben Fritz, LA Times, via Twitter.

Geoff Keighley, presenter of the Spike TV show GTTV, also tweeted about the update, giving the 5gb figure but reducing load times to about one hour.

"The Wii U firmware update is apparently about 5 gigs," wrote Keighley. "No wonder it takes about an hour+ to download."

Storage space on the flash memory-based Wii U is at a premium, as it is on any console without hard drive storage, so to immediately lose more than half of it to an enforced update would be a huge blow to new owners. Nintendo has been approached for clarification on the update's size and for advice for any customers experiencing problems.

38 Comments

That's going to be a fun Christmas morning, isn't it?

Posted:A year ago

#1

Keldon Alleyne
Handheld Developer

422 361 0.9
This is not good at all. They could have easily included an additional 8GB of internal flash specifically for updates and it would have only cost a few extra dollars.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Keldon Alleyne on 19th November 2012 12:40pm

Posted:A year ago

#2

Patrick Frost
QA Project Monitor

383 174 0.5
Popular Comment
What a nice overreaction. The units being manufactured now will have that update on them already. This current first batch do have an update that other sources have sited to be around the 1Gb mark not the figure Keighley suggested. I really don't see what the fuss is about but I understand that it's not ideal.

Frankly if people all spam the server at the same time + slow internet speed then yes it will take a while. I haven't had confirmation of this but judging by Nintendo's usual warnings about power, there will be a big sign that says "don't turn off the power whilst updating". If people complain about the system bricking despite that warning then it's not really Nintendo's fault.

Another thing, why do people assume that the entire size of this update file is going to be bolted on to the OS file size?

EDIT: Also very disappointed to see that GI.biz did very little research of their own into this story and some of the leading comments that are contained within. Seems like you have just parroted what other people have said without any qualifying statements based on actual information from yourselves.

For example:
"It has been reported that a mandatory firmware update for the Wii U requires up to 5GB of storage space, potentially leaving customers who bought an 8GB unit without enough room to install Nintendo Land."
This suggests that people can't do anything at all with the update. But they can, with an external HDD, which you guys clearly know. A tiny bit of research would show you that these suggestions are simply people panicking and that you could have put this all to rest by being informative.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Patrick Frost on 19th November 2012 1:16pm

Posted:A year ago

#3

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

1,993 902 0.5
Even worse, users without broadband access are going to screwed if they buy a system, take it home and can't use the darn thing. Duh. The SHOULD have given people a pack-in disc option in case they're still not connected at home.

I hope they offer the option to download the update to a USB drive and apply it as opposed to hogging space in the memory. I have a Premium model arriving tomorrow morning, but the update thing will piss me off because I'm not near a high speed connection. If I can download it to my laptop at the library or a Starbucks nearby, I'll be happier (and can actually use the darn system)..

Posted:A year ago

#4

Keldon Alleyne
Handheld Developer

422 361 0.9
Frankly if people all spam the server at the same time + slow internet speed then yes it will take a while. I haven't had confirmation of this but judging by Nintendo's usual warnings about power, there will be a big sign that says "don't turn off the power whilst updating". If people complain about the system bricking despite that warning then it's not really Nintendo's fault.
(a) what happens if there is a power cut, or the fusebox gets blown by the iron being used upstairs?
(b) what happens if they really didn't expect it to take that long and don't have an option?

Either way that shouldn't be the case, no update should brick the machine in that way. The safest way would have been to have written an updater that could be paused and resumed with a rollback if space permits.

Posted:A year ago

#5

Jim Webb
Executive Editor/Community Director

2,210 2,049 0.9
Popular Comment
1. The update is only 882 MB. A lot of industry people just lost a lot of credibility to me with their 5 GB line.

2. External HDD's. Use them.

3. NEVER unplug or turn off your console in the middle of a firmware update. Any and every console not only could get bricked but they all, ALL, warn you about this in the instruction manuals and even on the screen prior to downloading the update.

Posted:A year ago

#6

David Radd
Senior Editor

360 77 0.2
Welcome to the world of large firmware updates, Nintendo users. With this knowledge in hand it will make the holidays less bad, but I'd expect this to crop up again when millions of families plug the system in for the first time on December 25th.

Posted:A year ago

#7

Keldon Alleyne
Handheld Developer

422 361 0.9
but I'd expect this to crop up again when millions of families plug the system in for the first time on December 25th
Maybe they'll wise up and have the system first download a brick-proof firmware downloader instead that allows for a totally recoverable update process that is power-cut proof.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Keldon Alleyne on 19th November 2012 4:43pm

Posted:A year ago

#8

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

1,993 902 0.5
I'm hoping that next shipment either has the updater installed or again, Nintendo sticks it on a damn disc inside the box, as I'd bet a lot of families who may not be so tech savvy (or again, have no broadband connection or a connection that isn't so stable) are going to be sitting there looking at nothing but instructions that are telling them to do something they can't. Mark my words on this.

Posted:A year ago

#9

Benn Achilleas
director

72 32 0.4
Popular Comment
hahah I love Patrick's "it's the consumers fault for spamming the server at the same time as other people". Joker. Nintendo made the mandatory update - their paying customers just wanted to update. How on Earth is it the consumers fault?

Looks like Ninty are going the way of Sony. Oversized updates on servers way to slow to serve them so the console experience becomes one of tedious updates every time you turn it on until soon you don't bother any more [looks over shoulder at dusty PS3].

Posted:A year ago

#10

James Berg
Games User Researcher

122 107 0.9
Popular Comment
Amazed that people here are blaming users. And external HDDs? For a kid-friendly, family game console, you're expecting people to be using them? It's a console - pull out of box, plug in, play. As an industry, do we really want to be defending allowing functionality, even unintended use cases, that bricks consoles?

Posted:A year ago

#11

Patrick Frost
QA Project Monitor

383 174 0.5
@Benn at no point did I say that. I've simply said that all the people downloading it at the same time will make the connection slow. I've never pointed the blame at the consumer. What I do blame consumers for is powering off the console when they are categorically told not to.

And why is everyone making such a massive fuss over this? The PS3 and 360 both had firmware updates to unlock functionality and later versions of the product will come with more up to date versions of the firmware, so all of the complaints about this are for a limited time only. Also can we get a little perpective on size of firmware file vs. unlocked functionality. For the file size, this unlocks the entire of the online functionality, Wii backward compatibility and more, which is loads! In what way does this indicate that large updates are going to be a regular thing for the Wii U?

Posted:A year ago

#12

Jim Webb
Executive Editor/Community Director

2,210 2,049 0.9
James, any device that overwrites the firmware is susceptible to being bricked if you remove the power while it's writing.
This isn't a Wii U thing, it's electronic device thing.

Benn, how does this suggest they will have an update every time you turn on the console?

Posted:A year ago

#13

Benn Achilleas
director

72 32 0.4
@Patrick - You defined the issue as too many people downloading at the same time. This implies it is the consumers fault. Nintendo should of had enough servers and infrastructure to make the download as quick and easy as possible. Could be expensive, sure but so can ruining the initial experiences of your consumers. Nintendo are wholly at fault for this. How many consumers download the mandatory update and at what time of day etc should never be in the equation. It's bad form by Nintendo.

Yes, the PS3 and 360 both had firmware updates. Sony likely has a building full of people that point out 'too many people are downloading'. This is the reason my PS3 is gathering dust as updates take forever. My 360 updates so fast, every time. Microsoft get it. I think it is a bad sign when a company makes such an error so early in the lifespan and it feels like another reminder that Nintendo just don't get this online thing.

Posted:A year ago

#14

James Berg
Games User Researcher

122 107 0.9
@Jim - Could this be avoided by downloading the firmware update, backing up existing content on-HD, then applying the firmware update? If someone went wrong during the application process, restore from the backup automatically. It'd require sufficient space to image the on-HD content I assume, but if something goes wrong, you're not left with an unbootable device.

Does anyone know if restoring to factory defaults will unbrick the WiiU? Is that even an option?

Posted:A year ago

#15

John Bye
Senior Game Designer

477 434 0.9
@Benn - There were a lot of PS3 firmware updates in the first couple of years, but the pace has slowed to about six or seven a year since then (apart from a couple of extra security patches in spring 2011 to deal with the fallout from the PSN hack). I tend to find they only take a few minutes though, so it's hardly a great hardship.

IIRC they changed the way firmware updates work a while back, which may have sped things up a bit? And if you're on PlayStation Plus, you can set your PS3 to auto-download system updates and other content overnight while you're sleeping and (hopefully) the servers aren't as loaded, so all you have to do is install the data that's already on your hard drive next time you login. Again, it makes the process less painful.

The real issue on PS3 is patching games. I don't understand why I can't download a patch for a game in the background while I play something else or watch a movie, like I can with demos, DLC and other content from the PlayStation Store. Just yesterday I wanted to play my one hour free trial for Battlefield 3, but gave up when I was asked to download a massive patch that said it was going to take 45 minutes, and that "background download is not available".

Surely it can't be that hard to update the firmware to allow background downloading of patches, given the system's already in place for other content? I'd expect it would just be a case of displaying a "not yet" message if you try to play the game again before the patch for it has finished downloading, or if it has finished then start installing the patch.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by John Bye on 19th November 2012 6:22pm

Posted:A year ago

#16

Jim Webb
Executive Editor/Community Director

2,210 2,049 0.9
James,
Provided you had the space available on the 32 GB model or an external HDD, you could have a means to redo the install provided it didn't corrupt things in the process. Another means could be to download via PC, put it on a USB stick and install it from there but that opens up security risks.

Posted:A year ago

#17
To be fair it's not really the firmware bricking the console, it's the user. Isn't this the case with all consoles today, that they shouldn't be powered down when updating?

I'm not defending Nintendo though. This update is a joke. And if there's no warning about powering down the unit while updating it's nothing but ridiculous.

And I thought Black Ops Declassified was bad....

Posted:A year ago

#18

Steve Peterson
West Coast Editor

96 58 0.6
Popular Comment
However Nintendo works it out, console owners should not have to worry about this or buy extra hardware in order to make the console functional. Nintendo needs to make any firmware updates as painless and foolproof as possible. There will be hell to pay on Christmas Day if people find their console is unusable for hours, or worse, completely bricked. Nintendo should realize that some good amount of Wii U's purchased already will not be opened until Christmas Day. I hope their servers are ready for a huge onslaught...

Posted:A year ago

#19
This has got NOTHING to do with the 8GB WiiU - I'm amazed people have managed to connect these dots. FW updates (and I regularly write the code for this at work) go:

1/ Download data to storage
2/ Install the data

I can't think of any reason why reseting a console during a download would damage it - it may confuse the "state" of the software in the console though. Its bad of Nintendo to not sufficiently test this, it was always bound to happen to these launch patches.

If you reset the console during *installation* - then BAM - goodbye! (no different from most other devices).

Anyone assuming that because it takes 3.5GB of space on the device, that the download is the same size is just completely and utterly wrong (ever hear of something called "compression"??). Urrgh, people.

Posted:A year ago

#20

Patrick Frost
QA Project Monitor

383 174 0.5
@Benn - Don't be ridiculous by using "If it's not A then it's B" logic. If a lot of people access the same servers at the same time that will impact the ability for the server to doll out the files. That's not the consumers fault, that's just a fact of how data transfer works. It's not my definition of the issue but a factor in the discussion. Yes Nintendo could have put up more servers but do we even know if it's Nintendo's severs that are causing the problem? There are many more things involved in this than just the end point.

Posted:A year ago

#21

Jim Webb
Executive Editor/Community Director

2,210 2,049 0.9
There appears to be a way to download the big update in the background which lets you continue to use the Wii U.

When it asks if you want to download the update, simply hit X to cancel. It downloads in the background anyway while you get to keep using the Wii U.

http://www.reddit.com/r/wiiu/comments/13gadt/wii_u_will_download_the_update_in_the_background/

Posted:A year ago

#22

James Berg
Games User Researcher

122 107 0.9
@Michael, the end user isn't likely to differentiate between 'downloading' and 'installing' though. To them, it's "My console is doing something and I can't touch it". Thanks for the tech clarification Jim, been a while since I was a compliance tester, sorry to hear things haven't improved much since then.

Hopefully this is something addressed in the next generation for MS/Sony at least.

My question from earlier remains though - is it possible to do a reset-to-factory on the Wii U if consumers are affected by this?

Posted:A year ago

#23

Jim Webb
Executive Editor/Community Director

2,210 2,049 0.9
James, it's probably the same way you do it on Wii. It's a format option in the system settings.

Posted:A year ago

#24

Paul Jace
Merchandiser

768 1,001 1.3
Don't we have any good news to report about the Wii U launch? Surely it can't all be doom and gloom.

Posted:A year ago

#25

Curt Sampson
Sofware Developer

564 278 0.5
If you have millions of people downloading and installing a firmware update that takes some time, it's inevitable that some of them are going to loose power while they're doing it. There are reasonably well-known (to software developers) techniques for minimizing the brickability of systems during updates such as this. If systems are being bricked, it's not because Nintendo couldn't minimize the problem; it's because they chose not to.

I'm no longer surprised, but still rather appalled, at the widespread attitude among software developers (not just of game software) that problems should simply be blamed on the user rather than avoided though better design. If a customer has a bad experience with a product, and you tell him he's at fault for that, that doesn't make him more likely to continue being a customer.

I suppose that there's a reason we're the other industry that calls our customers "users."

Posted:A year ago

#26

Dave Herod
Senior Programmer

517 731 1.4
2. External HDD's. Use them.
Sorry Jim, but that's a stupid argument. Why would someone buy the 8GB console over the 32GB one? Because they can't afford the more expensive one. So where will they magically get the money from to buy an external HDD? And why should they have to? If the 8GB console isn't fit for purpose it shouldn't be on sale.

Posted:A year ago

#27

Jed Ashforth
Senior Game Designer, Immersive Technology Group

90 140 1.6
All these shortcomings of the WiiU update infrastructure that are being debated here - have they only been gleaned from the copy @ top and the speculation below, or is there a more legitimate source of info here that I missed?

How many consoles have actually been bricked, and what were the circumstances? Are you able to give us a more factual update on this Dan?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jed Ashforth on 20th November 2012 10:38am

Posted:A year ago

#28
The early reviews of the console dismissed claims it needed to be constantly connected, not it seems that this was in fact the truth!

The new business mode for Nintendo - constantly connected, micro-payments, cloud storage games, and big subscription... and good bye retail!

Posted:A year ago

#29

Jim Webb
Executive Editor/Community Director

2,210 2,049 0.9
Dave, I fail to grasp how a family that can afford a $300 console plus a $60 game (to say nothing of that fact that that is $10 more than the 32 GB $350 console) cannot afford a $60 500 GB external HDD. Or save up $10 more and get a 1.5 TB external HDD for $70.

And there are 4 reasons someone would buy the 8 GB model.
1. They prefer white.
2. The 32 model is sold out.
3. They have no intention of downloading software.
4. It's cheaper.

Given the fact the 32 GB model is in far more demand than the 8 GB model, I'd be willing to guess that number 4 is less likely out of the group. But even with that in mind, It's only a $300 console if you don't intend to buy a game to play on it day 1.


Kevin, you are stretching those lines between the dots pretty thin.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jim Webb on 20th November 2012 2:13pm

Posted:A year ago

#30

Dave Herod
Senior Programmer

517 731 1.4
People still have their budgets. Console + game + external HDD is still more than console + game. Plus having yet more wires trailing around to a HDD with its own power supply is messy. Like Steve Peterson said above, console buyers shouldn't have to buy extra gear just to make it functional. It's a hack fix at best.

Posted:A year ago

#31
"When it asks if you want to download the update, simply hit X to cancel. It downloads in the background anyway while you get to keep using the Wii U." LOL. Classy!

@Jim Webb - you appear to have absolutely no grasp on reality. Who the hell wants to buy an external HDD for their brand new games console. The whole point of a games console is you don't need to mess around with that sort of thing.

I'll wager that 99.9% of people want to do the following - get console, open box, plug-in and play new game.
The remaining 0.1% may think, hey - I know, I'll buy an external HDD to go with my new console. If I can afford a game I can SURE AS HELL afford an extrnal HDD!

Posted:A year ago

#32
Those damned 0.1 per centers!

Posted:A year ago

#33

Patrick Frost
QA Project Monitor

383 174 0.5
Gotta say that I'm with Jim. Not having the HDD does not make the console non-functional and I have no idea where that concept has come from. I don't hear anyone complaining about the 4Gb 360.

The only thing the 8GB model can't do without additional kit is hold the capacity of an entire current generation game digitally. It's quite the nicety that option really, not to mention almost definitely more costly. You can save all of your game data just fine, go on the internet, play multiplayer games, stream Netflix, play smaller games from the eShop. Where's the problem?

Or are people still thinking that the sky is falling because the system can't handle the "5GB file" for the update?

Posted:A year ago

#34

Keldon Alleyne
Handheld Developer

422 361 0.9
@Jim, if that rhetoric is true then we should bundle a HDD with the console since that rule would then apply to every single Wii-U purchase. Either that or the logic isn't 100% true.

Posted:A year ago

#35

Jim Webb
Executive Editor/Community Director

2,210 2,049 0.9
Patrick, it's even better than that because the firmware update was actually less than 1 GB, not the 5 GB monstrosity that people were throwing around.

Keldon, my reply was to Dave who stated that families buying the $300 console because they can't afford the $350 console are still going to pay $360 if they want the console and a game. And most of those people that deliberately want the 8 GB console will not likely download a lot of games. These are the people more familiar with using physical discs. And if you're just using the 8 GB's for game saves, you'll most likely never need more space. Ever. Even the Wii's paltry 512 MB was adequate for nothing more than game saves. If you do need more space, the option is there.

PS3 came with 20 GB originally. Many X360 models come with just 4 GB. If people needed more capacity, they bought more. For many of them, they bought a whole new console. A $50 external HDD sounds down right financially pleasant by comparison.

Posted:A year ago

#36

Patrick Frost
QA Project Monitor

383 174 0.5
@ Jim, yeah that comment was meant to be sarcastic, sorry.

Posted:A year ago

#37

Keldon Alleyne
Handheld Developer

422 361 0.9
Jim - A $50 external HDD sounds down right financially pleasant by comparison.
That I do agree with, and I applaud Nintendo for allowing for usb HDD's - in spite of the power issues Digital Foundry mentioned.

Posted:A year ago

#38

Login or register to post

Take part in the GamesIndustry community

Register now