||This article may be too long to read and navigate comfortably. (December 2014)|
A white Wii U console (right) and Wii U GamePad (left).
|Also known as||Project Café (code-name)|
|Developer||Nintendo IRD, NTD|
|Manufacturer||Nintendo, Foxconn, Mitsumi|
|Type||Home video game console|
|Retail availability||2012 - present|
|Introductory price||US$299/¥26,250 (Basic Set)
US$349/¥31,500 (Deluxe/Premium Set)
|Units shipped||Worldwide: 7.29 million
(as of September 30, 2014[update])
|Operating system||Wii U system software|
|Power||75 W power supply|
|CPU||1.24 GHz Tri-Core IBM PowerPC "Espresso"|
|Memory||2 GB DDR3|
|Storage||Internal flash memory:
8 GB (Basic Set) / 32 GB (Deluxe Set)
USB storage device
|Display||Wii U GamePad (FWVGA)|
|Graphics||550 MHz AMD Radeon "Latte"|
|Sound||5.1 Linear PCM, Analog stereo|
|Camera||1.3 Megapixels (Wii U GamePad)|
|Touchpad||Resistive touchscreen (Wii U GamePad)|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11 b/g/n
4 × USB 2.0
|Dimensions||Width: 17.2 cm (6.8 in)
Height: 4.6 cm (1.8 in)
Length: 26.9 cm (10.6 in)
|Weight||1.5 kilograms (3.3 lb)|
|Best-selling game||New Super Mario Bros. U, 4.16 million
(as of March 31, 2014[update])
|Wii, Virtual Console|
The Wii U (Japanese: ウィー ユー Hepburn: Wī Yū?, pronounced / /) is a home video game console from Nintendo and the successor to the Wii. The system was released on these dates: November 18, 2012, in North America; November 30, 2012, in the PAL regions; and on December 8, 2012, in Japan. As the first entry in the eighth generation of video game home consoles, it directly competes with Sony's PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One.
The Wii U is the first Nintendo console to support high-definition graphics. The Wii U's primary controller is the Wii U GamePad, which features an embedded touchscreen. The screen can be used either as a supplement to the main display (either providing an alternate, asymmetric gameplay experience, or a means of local multiplayer without resorting to a split screen), or in supported games, play the game directly on the GamePad without using the television it is connected to. Games can support any combination of the GamePad, Wii Remote, Nunchuk, Balance Board, or Nintendo's more traditionally-shaped Wii U Pro Controller for input. The Wii U is also backwards compatible with most games released for the original Wii. Online functionality on the Wii U centers around the Nintendo Network platform, and Miiverse, an integrated social networking service which allows users to share in-game experiences and content with other players.
Upon its launch, the Wii U received mixed reception, particularly for its processing power in comparison to its competitors, and an initially weak lineup of games. Due to these shortcomings and poor sales, critics began to question the future viability of the console, and some third-party studios (including, most prominently, Electronic Arts) began to downplay their support for the console in comparison to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. However, sales of the console would begin to gain momentum following a price cut in August 2013, and the release of several major first-party titles throughout the remainder of the year and in 2014, including new installments in the Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. franchises—which both set sales records for Wii U games in the United States.
- 1 History
- 2 Hardware
- 3 User interface
- 4 Software and services
- 5 Network features
- 6 Games
- 7 Reception
- 8 Sales
- 9 Notes
- 10 References
- 11 External links
The system was first conceived in 2008, after Nintendo recognized several limitations and challenges with the Wii, such as the general public perception that the system catered primarily for a "casual" audience. With Wii U, Nintendo explicitly wishes to bring "core" gamers back. Game designer Shigeru Miyamoto admitted that the lack of HD and limited network infrastructure for Wii also contributed to the system being regarded in a separate class to its competitors' systems, the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. It was decided that a new console would have to be made to accommodate significant structural changes.
Ideas on which direction to take for the new console led to a lot of debate within the company, and the project started over from scratch on several occasions. The concept of a touchscreen embedded within the controller was originally inspired by the blue light on the Wii disc tray that illuminates to indicate new messages. Miyamoto and his team wanted to include a small screen to provide game feedback and status messages to players (in similar vein to the VMU for Sega's Dreamcast). Much later in development, this was expanded to a full screen that could display the game being played in its entirety, a concept which was suggested but not financially viable earlier in the project.
Initial beliefs about Wii's successor were that the new console would be an "enhanced version" named the "Wii HD." Many journalists speculated that it would have a high-definition video output along with a Blu-ray Disc drive built in with a release sometime in 2011. However, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata later stated that he saw "no significant reason" to include HD into the Wii and that such an addition would be better suited for a successor. Shigeru Miyamoto also expressed Nintendo's interest in working with HD graphics but clarified that the company is primarily focused on the gameplay experience. In October 2009, Miyamoto said that they had no concrete plans about a successor yet, but knew that the successor would possibly still feature motion controls and they expected its interface to be "more compact" and cheaper. Iwata also mentioned that the Wii's successor might be 3D-compatible but concluded that the adoption rates of 3D televisions should increase to at least 30% first.
In 2010, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aimé commented that he felt "confident the Wii home entertainment console has a very long life in front of it" and declared that a successor would not be launched in the near future. At the E3 2010 presentation, Iwata revealed to the BBC that they would begin announcing a new console once Nintendo ran "out of ideas with the current hardware and cannot give users any more meaningful surprises with the technology [they had]". Later, at an investor's meeting, he disclosed that they were "of course studying and developing the next console to Wii", but they were simultaneously keeping its concepts secret because it was "really important for [his] business to positively surprise people." Fils-Aimé commented in a CNN article and claimed that Nintendo's next home console would not likely feature stereoscopic 3D, based on the 3D technology Nintendo had experimented with.
In April 2011, an uncredited source indicated that Nintendo was planning on unveiling the successor to the Wii during E3 2011, codenamed Project Café, that would be capable of gameplay in HD resolutions and would be backward compatible with Wii software. It was also rumored that the console would feature an all new controller with a built in high-resolution screen. The origin of the rumor for the codename (and many other details) was French technology publication 01net. 01net had previously revealed the technical specifications of Sony's PlayStation Vita before it was announced. The new machine was believed twice as powerful as the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
Many claims focused on the new controller, which would feature dual analog sticks, a standard D-pad, two bumpers, two triggers and "possibly more". IGN compared the functionality of the new controller to that of a GameCube controller. 01net claimed the controller would be "a touch tablet controller, with moderate graphic output", comparing the controller to an iPad with buttons. They also added that there would be a front-facing camera on the controller. Supposedly, the controller would also feature six-axis motion controls that outperform a PlayStation Move motion controller in terms of fidelity, as well as a built-in sensor bar. The new controller features a 6.2-inch touchscreen. 01net took the rumor a step further and claimed that the touchscreen would be single-touch. Sources from CVG claimed that the controller featured a high-resolution screen. IGN claimed that the controller would allow players to stream entire games to the controller from the console, and that the console itself "is likely to resemble a modernized version of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES)."
According to Edge, software developer THQ's president Brian Farrell allegedly told investors: "We don't expect new hardware any time soon from either Microsoft or Sony. It's different on Nintendo – we'll let them announce their new hardware".
On April 25, 2011, Nintendo released a statement officially announcing a system to succeed the Wii. They simultaneously announced that it would be released during 2012, and that playable console units would be present at E3 2011 (June 7–9). Speaking at an investor's conference, Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata stated the Wii successor would "offer something new for home game systems." Iwata also confirmed that the successor to the Wii would not launch in the fiscal year of 2012, meaning that it would release after April 2012.
On May 4, 2011, Kotaku reported that Project Café would have 8 GB of flash-based memory on board, with the assumed purpose of storing game saves. The game discs used by the console were said to be of a proprietary format, and to hold up to 25 GB of data, which is similar to the capacity of a single-layer Blu-ray Disc. In early June, Nikkei issued a report confirming earlier rumors that the new console would feature a controller with a 6 inch touchscreen that would give tablet-like controls to games, as well as a rechargeable battery and a camera. Nikkei said the system would be released in mid-2012.
A prototype version of the Wii U was showcased at E3 2011. The design of the console and controller were not definitive versions. The controller demonstrated a touch screen of greater than 6 inches in width with a built-in microphone, speakers, gyroscope, accelerometer, rumble and camera. All processing is done on the console itself, with the output displaying on either on a TV, the controller, or both simultaneously; however, the screen only supports single touch, not multitouch, going against a popular trend across the technology industry, and, at the time of unveiling, the system only supported output to one tablet controller at a time. This was despite reports that Nintendo was looking into allowing such functionality in the final version of the hardware. Games confirmed for the new console included New Super Mario Bros. U and Pikmin 3, the latter of which was originally in development for the Wii but was later switched to the Wii U. A list of third-party titles was also announced to be available at release, and were on show with trailers from PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions.
In the two days following the unveiling of the Wii U, Nintendo's stock value fell nearly 10 percent to levels not seen since 2006. Some analysts expressed skepticism in regards to the addition of a touch screen to the controller, expressing concern that the controller would be less affordable and less innovative than the original Wii Remote. When asked about whether or not the Wii U was going to support 3D, Iwata told San Jose Mercury News, "If you are going to connect Wii U with a home TV capable of displaying 3-D images, technologically, yes, it is going to be possible, but that's not the area we are focusing on."
On January 26, 2012, Iwata told investors that the Wii U would be launched by the end of the 2012 shopping season in all major regions, and that its final specifications would be revealed at E3 2012. Furthermore, Iwata stated that the console would feature a unified online system known as Nintendo Network, which would feature user account support as opposed to the use of friend codes. Nintendo Network would also provide the framework for online multiplayer interactions, add-on content sales, as well as online distribution of applications and video games. Moreover, Iwata mentioned that the Wii U GamePad would support NFC, which would allow the system to wirelessly interact with figurines and cards created by developers. It would also allow for microtransactions to take place wirelessly using credit cards that have NFC support.
On September 13, 2012, during a Japanese Nintendo Direct presentation, Nintendo announced that the new console would launch in Japan on December 8, 2012. Later that day, Nintendo announced that the North American launch date would be November 18, 2012. Nintendo of Europe and Nintendo Australia also announced that the Wii U would be released in both regions simultaneously on November 30, 2012.
The Wii U was originally released in two bundles: the Basic bundle and the Premium (WW) / Deluxe (US) bundle. The Basic bundle contains a white Wii U with 8 GB of on-storage, a white Wii U GamePad and stylus and an HDMI cable, while the Premium (WW) / Deluxe (US) contains a black Wii U with 32 GB of internal storage, a black GamePad and stylus, an HDMI cable, and adds a Nintendo Network Premium subscription, the Nintendo Land game (except Japan), as well as stands for the console and controller and a sensor bar (except Japan). On November 18, 2012, the Wii U launched in North America, price at US$299.99 for the Basic Set and US$349.99 for the Deluxe Set. The system was scheduled to launch on November 25, 2012 in Mexico, however, it was delayed to November 29. On November 30, the system launched in Europe, Australia and South Africa, with European pricing set by individual retailers. On December 8, 2012, the system launched in Japan, priced at ¥26,250 for the Basic Set and ¥31,500 for the Premium Set.
On July 13, 2013, Nintendo released a white version of the Premium Pack (32 GB) in Japan, as well as an official battery pack and charger dock for the Wii Remote. The battery pack is capable of lasting 13 hours of gameplay before needing to be recharged. Additionally, on July 25, the company released an improved battery pack for the Wii U GamePad. In contrast to the standard 1500mAh battery bundled with the console, the new 2550mAh battery pack will increase its longevity to between five and eight hours before needing to be recharged.
On August 28, 2013, Nintendo announced that the Premium (WW) / Deluxe (US) 32 GB model would get a price drop from US$349.99 to US$299.99 in North America. The price drop took effect starting on September 20, 2013. In Europe, Nintendo didn't confirm a formal price cut due to the fact that, in the region, individual retailers set their own prices. However, starting October 4, 2013, the company reduced the wholesale trade price of the system to retailers. Coinciding with the system's price cut, Nintendo released a limited edition The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD Wii U Deluxe Set bundle. The bundle included a black Wii U console with 32 GB of internal storage, a black Wii U GamePad decorated with a golden Triforce and other thematic symbols, a download code for the game and, in North America, a digital copy of The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia, a collector's book about The Legend of Zelda series. In Europe, Nintendo also released a limited edition Lego City Undercover Wii U Premium Pack bundle. Both European bundles also featured a 7-day trial of the Wii Karaoke U service. Despite doing so in other regions, Nintendo did not cut the price of the Wii U in Australia or New Zealand nor did it release any of the previous bundles in the regions.
On October 31, 2013, Nintendo introduced two new Wii U Premium Pack bundles in Japan, called Family Set. The first included either a black or white Wii U console with 32 GB of internal storage, a black or white Wii U GamePad, New Super Mario Bros. U and Wii Party U preloaded, a black or white Wii Remote, a Wii Sensor Bar, and a 30-day trial of the Wii Karaoke U service. The second bundle included all of the previous one's contents, additionally preloaded with Wii Fit U and including Nintendo's official Fit Meter pedometer (with the Wii Balance Board available separately).
On November 1, 2013, Nintendo released a Mario & Luigi Deluxe Set in North America with the intent of replacing the original Wii U Deluxe Set, which included a copy of Nintendo Land. The Mario & Luigi bundle contains both New Super Mario Bros. U and New Super Luigi U packaged as a "2 in 1" disc alongside a black Wii U console with 32 GB of internal storage and black Wii U GamePad controller. The bundle was later released in Europe on November 8. On November 14, Nintendo released a Just Dance 2014 Basic Pack bundle in Australia and New Zealand. It contains a white Wii U console with 8 GB of internal storage, a white Wii U GamePad and Wii Remote Plus controllers, a Sensor Bar, and disc versions of both Ubisoft's Just Dance 2014 and Nintendo Land. The bundle was later released in Europe on November 22. On November 15, Nintendo released a Wii Party U Wii U Basic Pack bundle in Europe. It features a white Wii U console with 8 GB of internal storage, a white Wii U GamePad and Wii Remote Plus controllers, a Sensor Bar, and disc versions of both Wii Party U and Nintendo Land. On November 15, Nintendo also released a Skylanders: Swap Force Wii U Basic Set bundle in North America. It contains white Wii U with 8 GB of internal storage, Activision's Skylanders Swap Force game, a Portal of Power, three Skylanders figures (one of which has an exclusive color variation), a collector poster, trading cards and sticker sheets, and a Nintendo Land game disc. The bundle was later released in Australia and New Zealand on November 21.
On November 26, 2013, the Wii U was released in Brazil. However, the system is only available in the black Deluxe Set in the region.
On May 30, 2014, Nintendo released a Mario Kart 8 Premium (EU/AUS) / Deluxe (US) Set bundle in Europe and North America. It features a black Wii U console with 32 GB of internal storage, a black Wii U GamePad, a copy of Mario Kart 8, a Sensor Bar, and special edition red Wii Wheel (in North America only). Additionally, registering the game on Club Nintendo before July 31, 2014 presents the buyer a free Wii U game from a selection of four in North America and ten in Europe. The bundle was later released Australia and New Zealand on May 31.
The Wii U uses a custom multi-chip module (MCM) developed by AMD, IBM and Renesas in co-operation with Nintendo IRD and Nintendo Technology Development. The MCM combines an "Espresso" central processing unit (CPU) and a "Latte" graphics chip (GPU), as well as an SEEPROM memory chip. The Espresso CPU, designed by IBM, consists of a PowerPC 750-based tri-core processor with 3 MB of shared L2 cache memory and clocked at approximately 1.24 GHz.[note 2] Despite belonging to the PowerPC family, the Espresso also shares some architectural concepts with the POWER7 architecture such as the use of eDRAM cache and being manufactured at a 45 nm node.[note 3] The Latte graphics chip contains both a "GX2" GPGPU, which runs Wii U applications, and a "GX" GPU, which enables backwards-compatibility with previous generation Wii games. The GX2, designed by AMD, is based on the Radeon R600/R700 architecture and is clocked at approximately 550 MHz.[note 2] It is manufactured at a 40 nm node and contains 32 MB of eDRAM cache memory, which can also act as L3 cache for the CPU.[note 2] The GX, originally designed by ATI Technologies, contains a 1 MB and a 2 MB banks of eSRAM cache memory. The Latte chip also includes a secondary custom ARM9 processor with 96 KB of SRAM memory that handles system tasks seamlessly in the background during gameplay or while the system is in sleep mode, and dedicated hardware audio DSP module.
The console contains 2 GB of DDR3 system memory consisting of four 512 MB (4 Gb) DRAM chips with a maximum bandwidth of 12.8 GB/s. This is 20 times the amount found in the original Wii. However, 1 GB is reserved for the operating system and unavailable to games. The memory architecture allows the CPU and GPU to access both the main DDR3 memory pool and the eDRAM cache memory pool on the GPU, removing the need for separate, dedicated memory pools. The console includes either an 8 GB (Basic) or 32 GB (Premium (WW) / Deluxe (NA)) internal eMMC flash memory, expandable via SD memory cards up to 32 GB and USB external hard disk drives up to 2 TB.
The Wii U features 802.11 b/g /n wireless network connectivity and support for Fast Ethernet with an accessory, Bluetooth 4.0, a total of four USB 2.0 ports, and an SD/SDHC memory card slot. An additional power port is also included to power the Wii Sensor Bar, an auxiliary infrared emitter used by Wii Remote peripherals for motion tracking. Video output options include 1080p, 1080i, 720p, 576i, 480p and 480i, through HDMI 1.4 and component video (YPBPR, D-Terminal and RGB SCART) or 576i, 480i anamorphic widescreen through composite video (S-Video, SCART and D-Terminal). Audio output options include six-channel 5.1 linear PCM surround sound or analog stereo. The console also supports stereoscopic (3D) images and video.
The Wii U GamePad is the Wii U's main controller. Up to two GamePads can be connected per console. The console is also compatible with up to four Wii Remote (Plus) (including the Nunchuk and Classic Controller attachments) or up to four Wii U Pro Controllers for more traditional controls, or a combination of the two. The console also supports the Wii Balance Board and every official Wii accessory, such as the Wii Wheel and Wii Zapper.
Wii U GamePad
The Wii U GamePad is the Wii U's primary controller and comes bundled with the console. It features a built-in 6.2 inch (15.7 cm) 16:9 FWVGA (854x480) resistive touchscreen, which can either function as a standalone screen independent of the use of the television screen when using Off-TV Play, or supplement the gameplay shown on the television display. This allows games to feature asymmetric gameplay where the player using the GamePad has one gameplay experience, while competing players using Wii Remotes or Wii U Pro Controllers have different experiences. The GamePad also features a built-in front-facing camera and infrared sensor strip, a microphone, stereo speakers, and supports near field communication (NFC). In addition, the GamePad features nine-axis motion detection via a three-axis accelerometer, three-axis gyroscope and a three-axis magnetometer, and comes equipped with a rumble feature. It includes a removable, rechargeable lithium-ion battery capable of storing 1500 mAh with a longevity from 3 to 5 hours. The controller weighs 1.1 lbs (500 g) and has measures 130 × 23 × 260 mm (5.3 × 0.9 × 10.2 in). The GamePad's wireless communication with the Wii U console is based on IEEE 802.11n operating at either 5.2 GHz or 5.8 GHz and technically supports repeaters, while using a proprietary transfer protocol and software co-developed by Broadcom and Nintendo. The Wii U GamePad is not compatible with the original Wii, and cannot function as a controller when the Wii U is in Wii Mode. It can, however, mirror TV output while in Wii Mode.
The controller features the following buttons: a HOME button, a TV CONTROL button, START (+) and SELECT (-) buttons, dual clickable analog sticks, a D-pad, four face buttons (A, B, X, Y), bumper buttons (L/R) and trigger buttons (ZL/ZR), and a POWER button. The Start and Select buttons are represented by "+" and "-" signs respectively. The analogue sticks are not restricted to 8-axis movement, a departure from previous Nintendo console controllers with analogue sticks. The Wii U GamePad also features a dedicated volume slider, which controls the controller's speakers' volume. The controller comes bundled with a stylus for interacting with the touch screen. It has plastic grips in its rear in order to increase its grip.
The GamePad has several output connectors. Its audio jack (3.5 mm connector) supports the connection of a headset to allow a user to speak and hear audio simultaneously. The controller features an infrared transceiver, part of the TV Control feature. It is also able to communicate with accessories, such as the Fit Meter. In addition, there is a power port to recharge the controller via a proprietary cable, two metal contacts, which serve as power connectors for the charging cradle (bundled with Premium (WW) / Deluxe (US) consoles), and a Multi-Purpose External Extension Connector which allows power and data transmission for future accessories.
The Wii U GamePad has a built-in near field communication (NFC) reader, which has the ability to read and write information on compatible items by simply placing them on top of the GamePad. The NFC system can be used to interact with specially-designed figurines, such as Nintendo's Amiibo line, and can be used for contactless payments from Nintendo eShop with compatible cards; as of May 2014, this functionality can only be used in Japan with Suica cards, but similar functionality will be deployed in other regions in the future. The GamePad also allows for asymmetric gameplay, where the player using the controller has one gameplay experience, and competing players using Wii Remotes or a Wii U Pro Controllers have different experiences.
Wii U Pro Controller
The Wii U Pro Controller is the second controller released for the console, available separately. Like its predecessors, it has standard analogue sticks, face buttons, and triggers. The battery charge is sufficient for up to 80 hours of use. Nintendo showed the Pro Controller at E3 2012 with the aim of attracting more "hardcore" gamers to make the Wii U more competitive with Sony and Microsoft's offerings. Many video game journalists have noted the similarity between the controller and Microsoft's Xbox 360 Controller. Nintendo says that the Pro Controller is an “enhanced version” of the Classic Controller and "offers a richer experience." Some games for Pro Controller, such as Call of Duty: Black Ops II and Trine 2: Director's Cut, are also compatible with the Classic Controller, but the Pro Controller cannot be used with earlier Wii games.
The Wii Remote (also known colloquially as the Wiimote) and Wii Remote Plus, which come with a built-in Wii MotionPlus sensor, are compatible with the Wii U. A main feature of the Wii Remote is its motion sensing capability, which allows the user to interact with and manipulate items on screen via gesture recognition and pointing through the use of accelerometer and optical sensor technology. Another feature is its expand-ability through the use of attachments. The Nunchuk, which complements the Wii Remote, provides an analogue stick and a set of trigger buttons that function similar to those in the Wii U GamePad. Some other attachments include the Classic Controller, which offers more traditional controls, similar to the Wii U Pro Controller; the Wii Zapper, which is mainly used for first person shooter games; and the Wii Wheel, originally used for Mario Kart Wii and now also compatible with Mario Kart 8 among other Wii U racing games.
On July 13, 2013, Nintendo released an official battery pack and charger dock for the Wii Remote capable of lasting 13 hours of gameplay before needing to be recharged.
Optical disc 
The Wii U Optical Disc is a proprietary high-density optical disc, developed by Nintendo and Panasonic, and serves as the physical medium for Wii U games. The format is very similar in physical design and specifications as the Blu-ray Discs, sporting a capacity of 25 GB per layer. The console's read-only optical disc drive reads these discs at 5x CAV, for a maximum read speed of 22.5 MB/s. To further enhance optical drive performance, the Wii U features Zlib decompression like its predecessor, allowing for greater real-time bandwidth. Wii U Optical Discs differ from other optical disc formats in that they have soft, rounded edges. It also supports Wii Optical Discs, albeit at 6x CAV for backwards compatibility with the Wii. However, the console is not backwards compatible with GameCube Game Discs.
Each disc contains a burst cutting area (BCA) mark, a type of barcode that is written to the disc with a YAG laser. The data stored in this BCA mark includes an encrypted table related to the hardware-based copy-protection mechanics, in addition to 64 bytes of un-encrypted user-accessible data.
The Wii U uses either the Wii U Menu or the Wii Mode depending on which application it is going to launch. The Wii U Menu is used to access applications built specifically for the Wii U. On the other hand, the Wii Mode activates the system's backward compatibility with the original Wii and launches the Wii Menu.
Wii U Menu
The Wii U Menu is the main dashboard of the system and is directly integrated with Miiverse and the Nintendo Network. Along with the Home Menu, it serves as the system's main graphical user interface, similar to the Wii's "Wii Menu" and Nintendo 3DS' HOME Menu. It allows launching software stored on Wii U optical discs, applications installed in the internal memory or an external storage device, or Wii titles through the system's "Wii Mode". Like the original Wii, discs can also be hot-swapped while in the menu. The Wii U Menu also allows users to access system applications such as the Miiverse, surf the web using the Internet Browser, watch movies and TV shows on Nintendo TVii, download apps through the Nintendo eShop, and check for notifications. System settings, parental controls and the activity log can also be launched through the menu.
When the Wii U powers on, the television screen will show the WaraWara Plaza in which trending user status and comments on Miiverse are shown. Each user is represented by their respective Mii and is often associated with a Miiverse community. Users can save any Mii on the WaraWara Plaza to their personal library, Yeah! their post, write a comment, and send a friend request. By default, on the TV screen, the WaraWara Plaza is displayed while on the GamePad screen, application icons are displayed. These however can be swapped any time between the television screen and the GamePad screen.
The Home Menu (stylized as HOME Menu) can be accessed during any game or application through by pressing the Home Button on the Wii U GamePad, Wii U Pro Controller or Wii Remote. The Home Menu allows the user to launch certain multitasking applications, such as Miiverse, Nintendo eShop, Internet Browser, Nintendo TVii, and Friend List while a game or application is suspended. It also displays various information such as the current date and time, wireless signal status, number of friends online, remaining controller battery and controller settings. On-going downloads can also be managed in the Download Manager, which downloads and installs games and applications and their respective updates, as well as downloading system updates in the background, while a game or application is running.
Wii Mode is a fully virtualized Wii system within the Wii U, with all of the limitations and most of the privileges therein. Wii mode can be launched from an icon on the Wii U HOME menu and by selecting either the Wii system icon, or the icon of a Wii game disc which has been inserted into the system. Although the Wii Shop Channel is fully available, not all of the content is; the Netflix, Hulu Plus, and YouTube applications available on the Wii Shop Channel cannot be used on the Wii U. Nintendo has announced a GameCube controller adaptor for Wii U games, but the Wii U is wholly incompatible with GameCube-native games; thus software in Wii Mode can only be controlled using original Wii peripherals. Initially, "Wii Mode" could only be displayed on a television screen but a post-release system update has allowed for Wii Mode to display on the Wii U GamePad screen simultaneously. In this setting, the GamePad's sensor bar can be used as an alternative to an ordinary sensor bar for pointing-based input from Wii Remote controllers.
TV Control is a Wii U GamePad feature that allows it to function as an infrared TV remote allowing the user to change channels, adjust volume, change the television video input or browse a programming guide, even if the Wii U console is not powered on. It is compatible with most cable and satellite providers' set-top boxes and most TV brands. This feature is also implemented in the Nintendo TVii system application.
Software and services
The Nintendo eShop is Nintendo's online digital distribution service, serving both the Wii U and the Nintendo 3DS handheld console. The eShop provides downloadable Wii U software titles (both retail and download only), Virtual Console games, trial versions (demos), and various applications. It also allows users to purchase downloadable content (DLC) and automatically download patches for both physical and downloadable games. All content obtained from the Nintendo eShop is attached to a Nintendo Network ID but can only be used in one system. The Wii U allows background downloading via SpotPass, either while playing a game or application or in sleep mode. Up to ten downloads can be queued at a time and their status can be checked on the Download Manager application. A pop-up notification will appear on the Home Menu to notify the user that a download is finished.
Unlike past Nintendo digital stores, such as the Wii Shop Channel and the Nintendo DSi Shop which used Nintendo Points as its currency, the Nintendo eShop uses the user's local currency using a digital wallet system whereby funds are added to and debited from the wallet. The user can add funds to their wallet in a number of ways either by credit or debit card or by purchasing Nintendo eShop cards. It is also possible to purchase download codes from select retailers and later redeem the on the eShop. On July 22, 2014, the Japanese Nintendo eShop was updated to support digital money cards to add funds to the user account's digital wallet via near field communication (NFC) on the Wii U GamePad. These cards are embedded with IC chips and are typically used to buy train or bus tickets as well as make purchases at convenience stores.
The Nintendo eShop supports user software reviews. Users can submit a review with "stars" ranging from one to five, representing its quality in a crescent order. It is also possible to categorize the software on whether it is suitable for hardcore or for more casual players. Reviews can only be submitted after the software in review has been used for at least one hour. In the future, it will be possible to attach Miiverse posts to each review.
Miiverse (portmanteau of "Mii" and "Universe") is an integrated social networking service, which allows players to interact and share their experiences through their own Mii characters. Miiverse allows users to seamlessly share accomplishments, comments hand written and game screenshots notes with other users. Select games are integrated with Miiverse, where social interactions can also occur within the game. Miiverse is moderated through software filtering as well as a human resource team in order to ensure that the content shared by users is appropriate and that no spoilers are shared. In order to facilitate this, it was stated that comments posted could take up to 30 minutes to appear on Miiverse.
On April 25, 2013, Miiverse also became available on web browsers for internet-enabled smartphone, tablet and PC devices. It later became available for the Nintendo 3DS in December 2013. Nintendo are also planning to release a specialized Miiverse app for smartphone and tablet devices in the future.
Internet Browser allows users to browse the web on the Wii U GamePad and/or the television screen. It functions as a multitasking application on the Wii U, so it can be used while another game or application is suspended in the background. The browser is primarily controlled using the Wii U GamePad's touchscreen, or with the analog stick to scroll through web pages and the D-pad to cycle through links on the page, similar to using a keyboard. It can play HTML 5 video and audio in websites such as YouTube and various other social media. The user can choose to hide the browser's view on the TV screen for privacy, which contains presentation effects such as the opening of stage curtains. The user can also choose between the Google and Yahoo! search engines. There is a text wrap option to automatically wrap text to the width of the screen at different zoom levels. Users can also create bookmarks, with each user having its own set of personal bookmarks. The browser supports up to six tabs simultaneously. Up to 32 pages can be stored into the browser's history before the older items start being replaced.
Nintendo TVii is a free television based service which allows users to find programs on Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, and on their cable network. Nintendo TVii also allows users to control their TiVo DVR through the Wii U. Users are then able to select the source of the program they wish to watch and watch it on their television or on the Wii U GamePad. By default, the GamePad screen shows information on the show currently being watched. This information includes reviews, screenshots, cast lists, trailers, and other general information about the show provided by Wikipedia, IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, as well as other individual source services. Nintendo TVii also has a dedicated sports section where the user can view player positions and highlights of the match updated in real-time.
Each user has its own personalized settings on Nintendo TVii, such as their preferences, favorite shows and sports teams, personal Mii and social network account integration. Users can then interact with their friends and the community by sharing and commenting on reactions to live moments on the current show, on social networks such as Miiverse, Facebook, and Twitter, through the GamePad while they watch their show on the television screen.
The service is currently only available in selected regions. Nintendo TVii was made available with the Wii U's release in Japan on December 8, 2012. It was released in North America on December 20, 2012 and was scheduled to be released in Europe sometime in 2013, but was never fulfilled. Nintendo UK had since issued an apology and stated to expect further announcements in the "near future".
Other video services
Nintendo is also working with YouTube, LoveFilm (United Kingdom and Ireland only), Nico Nico Douga and YNN! (Japan only) to bring streaming movie and television content to the Wii U. Nintendo had initially delayed the deployment of some media capabilities for the Wii U as it delayed its online infrastructure. Late in the launch day, a firmware update deployed the Netflix app. Then, access to the Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, and YouTube apps gradually became active later in the launch week.
Wii U Chat
Wii U Chat is Nintendo's online video chat solution, powered by the Nintendo Network. The service allows the users to use the Wii U GamePad's front-facing camera to video chat with registered friends. While video chatting, only the Wii U GamePad is essentially needed, since the application is compatible with Off-TV Play. Users can draw pictures on the GamePad, on top of the video chat display. If there is a game or another application already running, the GamePad's HOME button ring will flash indicating that there is an incoming call.
Wii Street U
Wii Street U is a built-in map application developed by Nintendo and Google for the Wii U. During a Nintendo Direct, Satoru Iwata revealed that Google Maps will be integrated with the panorama feature of the Wii U. The player can choose any place from around the globe to look at, use the street view feature and can use the Wii U GamePad.
This application was available on Wii U eShop for free, until October 31, 2013.
Wii Karaoke U
Wii Karaoke U is a built-in karaoke app developed by Nintendo and Joysound for the Wii U. It licenses the Joysound online song library from Japanese karaoke service provider Xing. The game can use both the Wii U GamePad's microphone and any universal USB microphone connected to the Wii U console.
The game requires an Internet connection for players to access new songs to download. Buying tickets for songs from the Nintendo eShop, players rent the songs they want to sing for a limited period (from 24 hours to up to 90 days) from Joysounds's song library. Choosing a stage to perform on, players are able to select their own Mii characters to represent themselves. Players are also able to adjust options such as echo, key and speed of the song, and other players can use their Wii Remotes to accompany the singer by playing instruments such as cymbals and maracas. The game includes a lesson mode which trains and quizzes players on tone and rhythm.
It was released as a free app, titled Wii Karaoke U by Joysound, on the Nintendo eShop in Europe, on October 4, 2013.
Nintendo Network is Nintendo's unified network infrastructure similar to the Sony's PlayStation Network and Microsoft's Xbox Live, and succeeds the previous Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection service. The Wii U is the second system to support the new network infrastructure, alongside the Nintendo 3DS. Nintendo Network provides the means for online multiplayer and other online interactions such as leaderboards and communication, as well as digital media delivery through digital distribution.
The Wii U uses a user account system much like its competitors, denominated Nintendo Network ID. Each Wii U system can contain up to twelve user accounts and Nintendo Network IDs. The user account system on the Wii U replaces the previous friend code model that was used on the original Wii, but does not eliminate the use of friend codes on Wii games using the Wii Mode.
Nintendo Network Premium
Nintendo Network Premium (Deluxe Digital Promotion in North America) is a loyalty program similar to PlayStation Plus. Consumers who purchase the Premium (WW) / Deluxe (US) Wii U will receive a subscription to this service which enable Wii U owners to receive points for each digital software purchase. Members who buy games and applications through the Wii U's Nintendo eShop will receive ten percent of the price back in the form of points, which can subsequently be put towards future online purchases on the Nintendo eShop, both on Wii U and Nintendo 3DS. The promotion is currently planned through December 2014.
Similar to Nintendo 3DS's more distinctly mobile SpotPass functionality, the SpotPass feature is an online utility which is built into the Wii U console. It allows the Wii U to automatically download available content via Wi-Fi in the background even when the Wii U is already running an application, or powered off in sleep mode. Content that can be downloaded via SpotPass include full game and application downloads, firmware updates, patches, and specific in-game content. It can be customized to fit the user's preferences, including opting it out altogether for selected software. Content currently being downloaded can be viewed in the Download Manager, accessed via the Wii U's Home Menu.
Retail copies of games are supplied on proprietary optical discs called Wii U Optical Discs, which are packaged in keep cases with simple instructions. In Europe, retail boxes have a triangle at the bottom corner of the paper sleeve-insert side. The triangle is color-coded to identify the region for which the title is intended and which manual languages are included. Unlike with previous Nintendo consoles, the complete software manual is only available digitally via the system's Home Menu. Retail and download-only games are also available for download on the Nintendo eShop. The console is region locked (software purchased in a region can be only played on that region's hardware).
New games in Nintendo's flagship franchises (including Super Mario, Donkey Kong and The Legend of Zelda), as well as several Wii series games (including Wii Sports Club, Wii Fit U and Wii Party U) have been released, in addition to many original titles and third-party-developed games. Nintendo has received third-party support from companies such as Ubisoft, Sega, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Activision Blizzard and Capcom, and various independent developers such as Two Tribes.
A total of 32.28 million Wii U games have been sold worldwide as of March 31, 2014[update], with six titles surpassing the million-unit mark. The highest selling game is New Super Mario Bros. U at 4.16 million units, followed by Nintendo Land at 3.09 million units and Mario Kart 8 at 2.82 million units. Mario Kart 8 is the fastest selling Wii U game as of June 30, 2014[update].
The Wii U was launched with 23 games in North America, 26 games in Europe, 25 games in Australia, and 11 games in Japan on December 8, 2012. Some download-only games were also available on launch day for the Wii U in North America, Europe, and Australia, via Nintendo eShop. An additional 30 games were announced for release during the system's launch window, which includes the three months after the system's launch date.
|List of Wii U launch titles by region released|
|Launch title||Region(s) released on launch day||Launch title||Region(s) released on launch day|
|Assassin's Creed III||NA, EU||Batman: Arkham City||NA, EU|
|Call of Duty: Black Ops II||NA, EU||Darksiders II||NA, EU|
|Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two
EUEpic Mickey: The Power of 2
|NA, EU||Sports Connection
NAESPN Sports Connection
NAFIFA Soccer 13
|NA, EU||Game Party Champions||NA, EU|
|Just Dance 4||NA, EU||New Super Mario Bros. U||NA, EU|
|Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge||NA||Nintendo Land||NA, EU|
|Rabbids Land||NA||Scribblenauts Unlimited||NA|
|Sing Party||NA||Skylanders Giants||NA, EU|
|Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed||NA, EU||Tekken Tag Tournament 2||NA, EU|
|Transformers: Prime – The Game||NA||Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper||NA|
|Wipeout 3||NA||Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2013||NA|
The Off-TV Play feature lets the user play games only on the Wii U GamePad controller using its embedded touchscreen, without the need for the television to be powered on. This feature is available on certain games only. Due to a system update, "Wii Mode" can be played off-TV. However, regular Wii remotes and accessories need to be used to control the software.
Asymmetric gameplay is a form of multiplayer in video games in which multiple players can play the same game simultaneously in different ways and rules. For example, one player may play a game with different gameplay mechanics and rules on the Wii U GamePad's screen while the rest of the players play the same game with different rules on the television screen. This feature is a major component of various Wii U games such as Nintendo Land and New Super Mario Bros. U.
Dual screen multiplayer mode is also a unique feature of the Wii U. It functions similarly to a traditional split screen multiplayer mode without the need for an actual split screen. The Wii U GamePad and the TV can function as two separate screens, offering each player a full screen experience. Compared to Ad-hoc multiplayer, dual screen multiplayer is rendered on the same console and does not require two independent systems and multiple copies of the game.
In January 2013, Nintendo announced that NES and Super NES titles would be made available for the Virtual Console service on the Wii U in April 2013 and would include the option to use Off-TV Play on the Wii U GamePad and the ability to post on Miiverse dedicated communities. Game Boy Advance and Nintendo 64 titles will also be made available at a later date. On March 26, 2014, Game Boy Advance titles were confirmed and started to appear on the eShop the following month.
The Wii U is compatible with most Wii games, both on disc and download. Wii accessories such as the Wii Remote (Plus), Wii Nunchuk, and the Wii Balance Board also remain compatible. It is also possible to move most downloaded software and save files from the Wii to the Wii U. While original Wii games are playable on the Wii U console, they cannot be played on the Wii U GamePad. However, the fourth version of the system software allows players to see Wii gameplay on the GamePad screen playing. The update also allowed for Wii Remotes to treat the GamePad as the default wireless sensor when in this mode.
Regardless of the Wii's general compatibility with GameCube games, the Wii U is not directly compatible with GameCube discs or accessories, with the exception of controllers via an accessory. Nintendo has stated a general intention to eventually provision the Nintendo eShop with GameCube games in the form of Virtual Console titles, but that it has no such official announcement yet.
John Teti of The A.V. Club's Gameological Society considers the Wii U a compelling video game system which lacks focus, citing Nintendo Land as "ideas act[ing] in service of the technology" simply to show off features of the console. Ben Gilbert of Engadget states that Nintendo delivers on its promise of releasing "a modern HD gaming console" but notes that "there are also some major missteps and half-baked ideas: a befuddling Friends List / Miiverse connection, a complete lack of many system-wide console standards (group chat, achievements, the ability to play non-game disc-based media) and a game controller that lasts only 3.5 hours", and stated that he could not give a complete assessment of the console with online components such as Nintendo TVii missing at launch time. Similarly, TechRadar praised the system's GamePad functionality and HD graphics, but criticized the limited battery power for the GamePad, and the insufficient number of top-tier game titles available during the launch period. Some industry figures do not consider the Wii U as an eighth-generation console, with many citing the hardware's processing speed as the reason. However, Reggie Fils-Aimé has noted that similar comments were made in 2006 when the original Wii first launched.
By May 2013, Electronic Arts announced that it was reducing support for the console and had no games in development for it at the time, but then partially reconsidered this decision a few days later, with EA's CFO announcing that "We are building titles for the Nintendo console, but not anywhere near as many as we are for Playstation or Xbox". At E3 2013, Ubisoft revealed that they were not going to make any more exclusives for the Wii U until sales of the console improved, though they stated shortly after that they are still "big supporters" of the Wii U, and plan to release as many Wii U games in 2013 as they did in 2012. In July 2013, Bethesda Softworks has announced that they had no games in development for the Wii U, with Bethesda VP of PR and marketing Pete Hines explaining the decision: "It depends on the games that we are making and how we think it aligns with that console, and how the hardware aligns with the other stuff we are making". This explanation was later refined to being largely due to the hardware. Contrarily, Activision has stated that they will "do everything they can" to support the system and would continue to develop games for it.
Following the launch of other eighth-generation consoles, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, in November 2013, it has been suggested by some critics that the Wii U would continue to struggle as it lacked the third-party developer support of its rivals. However, New York Times writer Chris Suellentrop stated that the Wii U was the only new console with a video game worth playing, citing Super Mario 3D World as "the best Mario game in years". Despite the praise, he noted that "one great game won't save a console", and although other good games exist on the Wii U, he admitted that its lineup "is still pretty thin". Time writer Matt Peckham said that the Wii U was the system of choice to pick up during that Christmas season, praising the console's first-party and indie games lineup, affordable price, Off-TV Play, absence of annual subscription fees, backwards-compatibility and media capabilities. However, he noted that the system still needs a new price cut and an improved first and third-party software lineup. CNET also noted that the Wii U had a better lineup of games and lower price in comparison to its competitors, mainly due to its one-year head start.
During its first week of release in the United States, Nintendo sold its entire allotment of over 400,000 Wii U units and sold a total of 425,000 units for the month of November, according to the NPD Group. It also sold over 40,000 consoles in the UK in its first weekend. In Japan, over 600,000 Wii U units were sold during December 2012. According to the NPD Group, nearly 890,000 Nintendo Wii U units were sold in the United States after 41 days on the market.  From the Wii U's launch till December 31, 2013, Nintendo reported that 3.06 million consoles and 11.69 million software units had been shipped worldwide.
In January 2013, Nintendo sold 57,000 Wii U units in the US. By comparison, the original Wii sold 435,000 in January 2007, also two months after launch. Initial sales numbers in the US and other territories were lower than expected, resulting in Nintendo cutting sales projections for fiscal year 2013 by 17 percent, from 5.5 million to 4 million; the system actually ended up selling 3.5 million units. During the first quarter of 2013, Nintendo reported that 0.39 million consoles and 1.73 million software units were shipped worldwide. From March to June 2013 the system sold approximately 160,000 units, which was down 51 percent from the three months prior. During the second quarter of 2013, Nintendo reported that 0.16 million consoles and 1.03 million software units were shipped worldwide.
At the end of July 2013, Walmart subsidiary Asda, the second-largest supermarket chain in the UK, confirmed that they had no plans to stock the Wii U, but would still stock games "on a title by title merit basis". Despite this, many specialist retailers continued to emphasize their support, with Game CEO Martyn Gibbs saying "We fully support all Nintendo products, including Wii U."
Following the system's $50 price cut and the release of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD on September 20, Wii U sales in North America saw a 200 percent rise over August. From July to September 2013, the system sold approximately 300,000 units, which was up 87 per cent from the three months prior. Despite only having sold 460,000 consoles since April, Nintendo has maintained its 9 million Wii U sales forecast for the fiscal year through March 2014. Wii U software showed improvement in the Q2 period, reaching 5.27 million units - a 400 per cent jump on the previous quarter. Nintendo credited the software growth to key first-party releases such as Pikmin 3 and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD. During the third quarter of 2013, Nintendo reported that 0.3 million consoles and 5.27 million software units were shipped worldwide.
In October 2013, online retailer Play.com announced that its Wii U sales saw a 75 per cent sales increase. The company also predicted that the Wii U would be more popular than its competition, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, amongst children during the holiday season. Following the release of Wii Party U on October 31 in Japan, weekly Wii U sales spiked to 38,802 units sold. On November 29, 2013, Nintendo of France deputy general manager Philippe Lavoué announced that the Wii U had sold approximately 175,000 units in France since launch. During the first two weeks of December, the Wii U was the top performing home console in Japan, with 123,665 units sold. After one year in the market, the Wii U had sold approximately 150,000 units in the United Kingdom. According to the NPD Group, Wii U sales in November increased by 340 percent over sales in October in North America, selling approximately 220,700 units sold in that month. According to several publications, including NPD Group figures, December 2013, was the best-selling Wii U month in the US since its launch, selling around 481,000 units. Independent estimates put the number of Wii U consoles sold by the end of 2013 between 4.5 and 5.2 million. During the fourth quarter of 2013, Nintendo reported that 1.95 million consoles and 9.96 million software units were shipped worldwide.
In January 2014, citing lower-than-expected sales during the 2013 holiday season, Satoru Iwata announced that Wii U sales forecasts for fiscal year 2014 had been cut from 9 million units to 2.8 million. In light of this announcement, the Wii U's long-term viability, and its ability to compete with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, have been called into question. In February 2014, Nintendo revealed that the Wii U had improved about 180% in year-over-year sales in the United States due to the launch of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, which sold 130,000 copies, making it the number four best-selling SKU for the month. By February 26, Wii U sales had surpassed those of the Xbox 360 in Japan. In March 2014, Nintendo sold just over 70,000 Wii U units, tracking it down 50% less than the GameCube and 90% less than the Wii during equivalent time periods. During the month, total worldwide sales of the PlayStation 4 surpassed those of the Wii U. During the first quarter of 2014, Nintendo reported that 310,000 consoles and 2.91 million software units were shipped worldwide.
During an annual investors' meeting, Satoru Iwata revealed Nintendo's projection of 3.6 million Wii U unit sales during the fiscal year of March 2014 On May 22, 2014, Nintendo France announced that sales were 50% higher compared to the last in the region, and that lifetime sales of the Wii U in France were at 340,000 units. With Mario Kart 8 being Nintendo's biggest game launch in all of Wii U history to date, Wii U console sales reportedly increased by 666% in the United Kingdom, with the Mario Kart 8 console bundle representing 82% of the region's Wii U console sales for the week. NPD Group reported that in the United States, when comparing the month of June 2013 to the same month in 2014, Wii U software sales were up 373% and console sales were up 233% (140,000 units).to March 2015 .
The record would be surpassed in November 2014 by Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, which sold 490,000 copies in the United States during its first three days of availability. Nintendo France stated in mid-December that 490,000 consoles had been sold in the country since launch.
- Release date in other regions
- Neither Nintendo, IBM nor AMD has revealed detailed specifications, such as the number of cores, clock rate, or cache sizes.
- Official reports made by IBM only confirm that the chip contains "a lot" of eDRAM and "the same processor technology found in Watson".
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Iwata: On the other hand, I certainly do not think that Wii was able to cater to every gamer's needs, so that's also something I wanted to resolve. [...] The keyword for our presentation at this year's E3 is "Deeper and Wider". With Wii U, I would like to offer this proposal with that idea
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- Official North American Wii U website (English)
- Official European Wii U website (English)
- Official Australian Wii U website (English)
- Official Wii U website (Japanese)