The Wii U GamePad with console
|Manufacturer||Foxconn, Mitsumi, Nintendo|
|Type||Video game console|
|Units sold||3.45 million (as of March 31, 2013)|
|Media||12 cm 25 GB Wii U Optical Disc
12 cm Wii Optical Disc
|CPU||Multi-Core IBM PowerPC "Espresso"|
SD card, SDHC Card
USB storage device
|Graphics||550 MHz AMD Radeon GPU "Latte"|
|Controller input||Wii U GamePad, Wii U Pro Controller, Wii Remote/Wii Remote Plus, Nunchuk, Wii Balance Board, Classic Controller, Nintendo 3DS|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11 b/g/n
4 × USB 2.0
|Online services||Nintendo Network
|Best-selling game||Nintendo Land (pack-in) 2.60 million (as of December 31, 2012)
New Super Mario Bros. U 2.15 million (as of December 31, 2012)
The Wii U (pron.: / /) is a video game console from Nintendo and the successor to the Wii. The system was released on November 18, 2012 in North America, November 30, 2012 in Europe and Australia, and on December 8, 2012 in Japan. It is the first entry in the eighth generation of video game home consoles, although some industry figures have disputed its exact classification.
The Wii U is the first Nintendo console to support high-definition graphics, capable of producing video output up to 1080p, and has 2 GB of RAM with half dedicated to the console's operating system. The console was released in two versions: a "Basic" white-colored version with 8 GB of internal Flash storage; and a "Deluxe"/"Premium" black-colored version with 32 GB of Flash storage. The Deluxe package additionally includes stands for the console and for the GamePad, a charging dock for the GamePad, and a pack-in game. An HDMI cable is included with both versions. The Wii U's primary controller is the Wii U GamePad, which features an embedded touchscreen. The touchscreen is used to supplement the main gameplay shown on the television or, with games supporting Off TV Play, can allow the player to continue playing games by displaying the main gameplay even when the television is off. In addition to the Wii U GamePad, a more traditional controller, called the Wii U Pro Controller, may be used.
The system is backward compatible with Wii, and Wii U games may support compatibility with Wii peripherals, such as the Wii Remote and the Nunchuk. While it is not backward compatible with Nintendo GameCube discs or peripherals, Nintendo of America's director of entertainment and trend marketing indicated that select GameCube titles would become available for download, although Nintendo has since stated it has nothing to announce regarding this.
The console 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 the Wii also contributed to the system being regarded in a separate class to its competitors' systems, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It was decided that a new console would have to be made to accommodate significant structural changes.
Within the company, there was much debate over the idea for the new console, and the project was scrapped and restarted several times. The concept of a touchscreen embedded within the controller was originally inspired by the blue light on the Wii 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 the Wii's successor were that the new console would be an "enhanced version" named the "Wii HD". Many journalists claimed 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-Aime 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." Reggie Fils-Aime 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 will 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 a Nintendo 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, THQ 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 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 Wii U was showcased at E3 2011. The design of the console and controller were not definitive versions. The controller demonstrated a touch screen over 6 inches wide and contained a built-in microphone, speakers, gyroscope, accelerometer, rumble and camera. All processing is done on the console itself, the output of which can be displayed 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, though Nintendo was reportedly looking into allowing for such functionality in the final version of the hardware. Games that were confirmed were New Super Mario Bros. U and the change of console from the Wii to Wii U of the long-in-development Pikmin 3. 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.
Shares of Nintendo fell almost 10 percent in the two days following the unveiling of Wii U 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.
On July 5, 2011, 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 October 27, 2011, Iwata stated during an investors meeting that the Wii U would be released after March 2012, and its final specification and form were revealed at E3 2012.
On January 26, 2012, Iwata told investors that the Wii U would be launched by the 2012 year end shopping season in all major regions. 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 digital distribution of applications and video games. Moreover, Iwata mentioned that the Wii U controller 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 12, 2012, Nintendo announced that launch date was set to December 8, 2012 in Japan. On September 13, 2012, Nintendo announced that North America launch date would be November 18, 2012. The Wii U will be available in two bundles: Basic ($299.99 in US) and Deluxe ($349.99 in US). Nintendo Australia and Nintendo of Europe announced that the Wii U would be released in Australia and Europe simultaneously on November 30, 2012. Both regions will receive the Basic ($349.95 AUD) and Deluxe ($429.95 AUD) bundles. The Basic bundle contains essentials including 8 GB of storage, the Wii U GamePad and stylus and an HDMI cable, while the Deluxe bundle adds on a Nintendo Network Premium Subscription, 32 GB of onboard storage, a sensor bar, the Nintendo Land game (all regions except Japan), as well as stands for the console and controller.
At launch, Nintendo revealed that the Wii U would be available in two colors, black and white. The white version is called Basic Set in North America and Basic Pack in Europe and Australia, and the black version is called Deluxe Set in North America and Premium Pack in Europe and Australia . The Nintendo official E3 webpage shows both colors with the white one in the Basic set and the black one in the Deluxe set.
Wii U GamePad
The Wii U GamePad is the main controller for the Wii U. It features a built-in touchscreen, which can either supplement or replicate the gameplay shown on the main display. When using the "Off TV Play" function, the controller can function as a standalone screen without the use of a television screen. The controller features an accelerometer, gyroscope, camera, dual analog sticks, a built-in sensor strip, a built-in microphone, and supports near field communication (which can be used for, among other uses, figurines that can interact with the console and wireless credit card payments with compatible cards). The console will also be compatible with the Wii Remote Plus, Nunchuk and Wii Balance Board, as well as a Wii U Pro Controller for more traditional controls. Two GamePads are supported per console. Gamepad wireless transmission is using 5150-5250 MHz indoor frequency band and based on IEEE 802.11n standard, while using custom proprietary transfer protocol and software co-developed by Broadcom and Nintendo
Shigeru Miyamoto promoted the idea of the GamePad, stating that he supports being able to use a secondary screen while someone else is watching the television. Wii U offers asymmetric competition, where the player using the GamePad has one experience and wins in a certain way, while competing players have different ways to play and win.
Wii U Pro Controller
The Wii U Pro Controller is the second controller released for the console, available separately. Like more traditional controllers, it features standard control sticks, buttons, and triggers. Nintendo unveiled the Pro Controller at E3 2012 with the aim of attracting more "hardcore" gamers to make the Wii U more competitive with Sony's and Microsoft's offering. Many video game journalists have noted the similarity between the controller and Microsoft's Xbox 360 Controller. Nintendo claims that the design of the Pro Controller is an “enhanced version” of the Classic Controller and "offers a richer experience." Regardless of this, certain games with flexible control schemes, such as Call of Duty: Black Ops II and Trine 2: Director's Cut, are also compatible with the Classic Controllers.
The Wii U Pro Controller is not compatible with previous-generation Wii games.
Wii Remote Plus
|This section requires expansion. (May 2013)|
The Wii U CPU is designed by IBM. It is described by IBM as an "all-new, Power-based microprocessor", the processor is a multi-core design manufactured at 45 nm with an eDRAM cache. Neither Nintendo nor IBM has revealed detailed specifications, such as the number of cores, clock rate, or cache sizes. References have been made to the chip containing "a lot" of eDRAM and "the same processor technology found in Watson". The Wii U CPU is produced by IBM at their 300 mm semiconductor manufacturing facility in East Fishkill, New York. Both the CPU and the GPU are on one MCM.
Near field communication
The Wii U's near field communication chip is located on the Wii U GamePad. The NFC chip can be used to allow users to import content from supported devices. This is achieved by placing the device on the Wii U GamePad. The NFC chip also has the ability to write information on items which can be used as a means of transferring information. Moreover, the NFC chip can also be used to make wireless transaction using supported credit cards by simply placing the credit card on top of the Wii U GamePad.
|This section requires expansion. (May 2013)|
Nintendo Network is Nintendo's unified network infrastructure similar to the Sony's PlayStation Network and Microsoft's Xbox Live. Available on the Nintendo 3DS and the Wii U, Nintendo Network for the latter provides the means for online multiplayer, video chatting (achieved by the using the Wii U Gamepad's inbuilt camera), as well as digital downloads. Nintendo Network on the Wii U will use a user account system much like the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live. One Wii U system can contain up to 12 user accounts. The user account system on the Wii U will replace the previous friend code model that was used on the Wii, but will not eliminate use of friend codes completely as they now serve a different purpose on the Wii U. The Wii U team also has administrators to remove inappropriate content. Nintendo Network can also be used as a means to achieve Wii U and Nintendo 3DS connectivity.
Similar to Nintendo 3DS's more distinctly mobile SpotPass functionality, the Spotpass feature is an online utility which is built into the Wii U system. It allows the Wii U to automatically download available content via WiFi in the background even when the Wii U is already running an application. Content that can be downloaded via Spotpass includes firmware updates, patches, and specific in-game content. Content currently being downloaded can be viewed in the Download Manager, accessed via the Wii U's HOME Menu.
The Wii U's eShop will be Nintendo's digital distribution store. Available at launch, the eShop will provide the means to download digital Wii U titles, retail Wii U titles, WiiWare titles, Virtual Console titles, and applications. The Wii U's eShop will also allow users to obtain patches, add-ons, and expansions for both retail and digital games. Moreover, all content obtained from the Wii U's eShop are attached to a user account, and they cannot be moved to other Wii U systems. Therefore if the console has issues in which require a replacement, purchased funds and licenses cannot be transferred to the new console.
The Wii U also contains an integrated social network system called Miiverse. Miiverse is directly integrated into the Wii U's system menu and can also be integrated into games and it can be accessed at any time. It allows users to chat with one another through text. Miiverse allows users to share their achievements in supported games. Nintendo has stated that Miiverse uses standard internet technologies, and so it can easily be accessed through personal computer, mobile devices, tablets, and the Nintendo 3DS; however, accessibility to the Miiverse by devices other than the Wii U will be supported after the launch of the Wii U. Nintendo has stated that Miiverse will be moderated through software filtering as well as through human resources team hired by Nintendo, as such comments posted can take up to 30 minutes to be posted.
The Wii U also contains a web browser which allows users to browse the web on the Wii U GamePad or a television screen. The web browser contains presentation effects such as the opening of stage curtains which can be used when the user wishes to share a web page from the Wii U Gamepad onto the television screen. The web browser also supports HTML5, YouTube, and various other social media.
Nintendo is working with Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, and YouTube to bring streaming digital movie and television content to the Wii U. Nintendo has demonstrated that simple gestures can be used on the Wii U GamePad to transfer video content from the GamePad to the television screen. Users will also have the ability to switch from the television screen to the Wii U GamePad when watching videos.
The Wii U GamePad can also be used as a universal television remote with a built in guide, even when the Wii U is off. Nintendo also preannounced a free television based service called Nintendo TVii. Nintendo TVii allows users to find programs on Hulu Plus, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, and on their cable network. Users are then able to select the source of the program they wish to watch and watch that program on their television or on the Wii U GamePad. Users can also use the GamePad screen to get information on the show they are watching, this information is received from Wikipedia, IMDb, and other source services. The information provided on the GamePad for each show can range from reviews, screenshots, player positions updated in realtime (in sports broadcasts), cast lists, trailers, and general information about the show. Users can then interact with the information as well as share and comment on the information on social networks such as Miiverse, Facebook, and Twitter through the GamePad while they watch their show on the TV screen. Users will also be able to control their DVR through the Wii U and the GamePad. Nintendo TVii was made by Nintendo in partnership with i.TV. 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 is scheduled to be released in Europe sometime in 2013.
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
|This section requires expansion. (May 2013)|
|This section requires expansion. (May 2013)|
The Wii U system software is integrated with Miiverse and Nintendo Network. When the Wii U powers on, the television screen will show the WaraWara Plaza in which user status and comments on Miiverse are shown, whereas the GamePad will show the software launcher menu where games and applications can be launched from. The WaraWara Plaza and the software launcher view can be swapped between the television screen and the Wii U GamePad screen. The Wii U system software allows users to access Miiverse, surf the Internet using the Wii U Internet Browser, watch movies and TV shows on Nintendo TVii, download apps through the Nintendo eShop, and check for notifications without the player needing to close their game.
The Wii U was launched with 29 games in North America on November 18, 26 games in Europe and 25 games in Australia on November 30, and 11 games in Japan on December 8, 2012. Digital-only games via Nintendo eShop were also available on launch day for the Wii U in North America, Europe, and Australia.
Titles developed or published by Nintendo include Nintendo Land, New Super Mario Bros. U, Lego City Undercover,, and currently plan to include Pikmin 3, Wii Fit U, Game & Wario, Bayonetta 2 and a new entry in the Super Smash Bros. series.
Third-party titles that were released alongside the Wii U's launch or early in its lifespan include Darksiders II, Assassin's Creed III, Mass Effect 3, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge, Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition, Just Dance 4, Madden NFL 13, and Scribblenauts Unlimited, as well as exclusives such as ZombiU and Rabbids Land.
In January 2013, Nintendo announced that NES and Super NES titles will be made available for the Virtual Console service on the Wii U in April 2013 and will include the option to use Off TV Play on the Wii U Gamepad and the ability to post on Miiverse. The Game Boy Advance and Nintendo 64 titles was also be made available on the future date.
The Wii U is compatible with most Wii games, both on disc and digital. Wii accessories such as the Wii Remote, Wii Remote Plus, Nunchuk, and Balance Board also remain compatible. It is also possible to move downloaded software and save files from the Wii to the Wii U. However, despite the Wii's general compatibility with GameCube games, the Wii U is not compatible with GameCube discs or accessories, although Nintendo has stated that some GameCube games will be available as Virtual Console titles through the Wii U's eShop. While original Wii games are playable on the Wii U system, they cannot be played on the GamePad screen.
|This section requires expansion. (November 2012)|
Reviews have been mixed. 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 states that he cannot 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 that there wasn't much of a system seller around its launch period.
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 have been sold in the United States after 41 days on the market. 
In January 2013, the Wii U sold 57,000 units in the US. By comparison, the original Wii sold 435,000 in January 2007, also 2 months after launch. Initial sales numbers in the US and other territories were lower than expected, resulting in Nintendo cutting sales projections for FY 2013 by 17 percent, from 5.5 million to 4 million. This has left some critics questioning the future of Nintendo, describing the Wii U as putting Nintendo in "trouble" and suggesting that Nintendo possibly should move out of the hardware sector.
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Media related to Wii U at Wikimedia Commons
- http://www.nintendo.com/wiiu - Official site