The Wii U 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 the PAL regions; and on December 8, 2012, in Japan. It is the first entry in the eighth generation of video game home consoles, and will compete with Sony's PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One.
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".
The Wii U shown at E3 2011, demonstrating the various uses of the GamePad controller.
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. 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 2012 year end shopping season in all major regions, and that its final specifications and form factor 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 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 13, 2012, during a Japanese Nintendo Direct presentation, Nintendo announced that launch date was set to December 8, 2012 in Japan. Later that day, Nintendo announced that the North American launch date would be November 18, 2012. The Wii U was made available in two bundles: the Basic Set ($299.99 in US) and the Deluxe Set ($349.99 in US). Nintendo of Europe and Nintendo Australia also announced that the Wii U would be released in both regions simultaneously on November 30, 2012. It would also launch with the Basic Pack ($349.95 AUD) and Deluxe Pack ($429.95 AUD) bundles, with European prices being set by individual retailers. The Basic bundle contains a Wii U with 8 GB of on-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 on-storage, a sensor bar, the Nintendo Land game (all regions except Japan), as well as stands for the console and controller.
On July 13, 2013, Nintendo released a white version of the Premium Pack in Japan, as well as was as an official battery pack and charger dock for the Wii Remote capable of lasting 13 hours of gameplay before needing to be recharged, retailing at ¥4,200. Additionally, on July 25, the company also released an improved battery pack for the Gamepad controller. The standard 1500mAh battery is bundled with the console, while the new 2550mAh battery pack will increase its longevity between five and eight hours before needing to be recharged, retailing at ¥3,150.
On August 28, 2013, Nintendo announced the Deluxe/Premium 32 GB Model would get a price drop from $349.99 to $299.99, in the United States and Europe. It was also announced that the current $299 Basic 8GB Wii U Model would stop production. This price drop would take effect starting on September 20, 2013.
During a Nintendo Direct on September 13, 2012, Nintendo revealed that the Wii U would be available in two colors at launch, black and white. The white version is called the Basic Set in North America and the Basic Pack in the PAL regions and Japan and come with 8 GB of internal flash memory. The black version is called the Deluxe Set in North America and the Premium Pack in Europe and Australia and comes with 32 GB of internal flash memory. In Japan a white version of the Premium Pack was released on July 13, 2013.
See also: Espresso (microprocessor) and Latte (graphics chip)
An illustration of the Wii U MCM without heat spreader. The smaller chip, lower right, is the "Espresso" CPU made by IBM. The other chips are the "Latte" GPGPU (large chip) from AMD and an EEPROM chip (tiny) from Renesas.
The Wii U utilizes a custom multi-chip module (MCM) developed by AMD, IBM and Renesas in cooperation with Nintendo. Its MCM combines a central processing unit (CPU) and graphics processing unit (GPU), as well as an EEPROM memory controller. The CPU, designed by IBM, consists of a PowerPC 750-based tri-core processor "Espresso" clocked at 1.24 GHz. 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 of unknown size. It is produced by IBM at their 300 mm semiconductor manufacturing facility in East Fishkill, New York. The GPU, designed by AMD, consists of a AMD Radeon High Definition processor codenamed "Latte" packed with a 35 MB eDRAM cache built onto the die clocked at 550 MHz. The console also includes a secondary custom chip that handles undisclosed tasks. These tasks are handled seamlessly in the background during gameplay or while the system is in sleep mode. The console also contains a dedicated hardware audio DSP module.
The Wii U contains 2 GB of DDR3 system memory consisting of four 512 MB (4 Gb) DDR3-1600 DRAM chips with a maximum bandwidth of 12.8 GB/s, in which 1 GB reserved for the operating system and unavailable to games. This is 20 times the amount found in the original Wii. The GPU also features a 35 MB eDRAM cache memory. The memory architecture allows the CPU and GPU to access both the main DDR3 memory pool and the eDRAM cache memory pool, removing the need for separate, dedicated memory pools.
The read-only optical disc drive will read proprietary high-density Wii U Optical Discs (25 GB per layer) at 5x CAV, similar to Blu-ray Discs, for a maximum read speed of 22.5 MB/s, and will also support Wii Optical Discs at 6x CAV for backwards compatibility with the Wii. To further enhance optical drive performance, the Wii U will also feature a Zlib decompression like its predecessor, allowing for greater real-term bandwidth. It is unknown whether the disc drive drive will be capable of reading dual-layer 50 GB discs or not. The console includes an 8 GB (Basic) or 32 GB (Deluxe (NA)/Premium (EU)) internal flash memory, expandable via SD memory cards up to 32 GB, only available in Wii Mode, and USB hard disk drives up to 2 TB.
The Wii U features 802.11 b/g/n wireless network connectivity and Fast Ethernet (requires an attachment), Bluetooth 4.0, four USB 2.0 ports (two at the rear and two at the front of the console) and an SD memory card slot (supports up to SDHC cards). An additional power port is also included to power the Wii Sensor Bar, an auxiliary infra red emitter first introduced on the Wii. Audio/video output options include 1080p, 1080i, 720p, 576i, 480p, and 480i, through HDMI 1.4 and component video (YPBPR and D-Terminal), 576i, 480i (standard 4:3 and 16:9 anamorphic widescreen) through composite video, S-Video, RGB SCART and D-Terminal, six-channel 5.1 linear PCM surround sound, and RCA analog stereo. The console also supports stereoscopic 3D images and video.
^[a] Neither Nintendo, IBM nor AMD 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 GamePad is the main controller for the Wii U, and up to two GamePads can be connected per console. The console will also be compatible with up to four Wii Remotes (Plus) with a Nunchuk/Classic Controller attachment, 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.
An illustration of the Wii U GamePad (White)
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 resistive touchscreen, which can either supplement or replicate the gameplay shown on the television display. It also features a built-in front-facing camera and sensor strip, a built-in microphone, stereo speakers, and supports NFC. The Wii U GamePad supports nine-axis motion detection via a three-axis accelerometer, three-axis gyroscope and a three-axis magnetometer, and also comes equipped with a rumble feature. It includes a removable, rechargeable lithium-ion battery capable of storing 1500 mAh and lasting 3–5 hours. The controllers weighs 1.1 lbs (500 g), has dimensions of 130 × 23 × 260 mm (5.3 × 0.9 × 10.2 in), and has etched plastic grips in its rear in order to increase its grip. The Wii U GamePad's wireless communication with the Wii U console is based on IEEE 802.11n operating at ~5.2 GHz and technically supports repeaters, while using a proprietary transfer protocol and software co-developed by Broadcom and Nintendo. The Wii U GamePad, however, is not compatible with the original Wii.
The controller also features the following buttons: HOME button, TV CONTROL button, START (+) and SELECT (-) button, dual clickable analog sticks, a D-pad, a four face buttons (A, B, X, Y), bumper buttons (R/L) and trigger buttons (ZL/ZR), and a POWER button. The START and SELECT buttons are represented by a "+" and "-" signs respectively. The analogue sticks are not restricted to 8-axis movement, a departure from previous Nintendo console controllers with analogue sticks. A TV CONTROL button opens an interface on the Wii U GamePad that acts as a television remote control, allowing the user to change the volume and switch channels or video input. This feature is also implemented in Nintendo TVii. The Wii U GamePad also features a dedicated volume slider, which controls the controller's speakers' volume. The controller comes with a stylus for interacting with the touch screen.
The Wii U GamePad features several output connectors. Its stereo jack (3.5 mm connector) will support the connection of a headset to allow a user to speak and hear audio simultaneously. The controller features an infrared transceiver, part of "TV CONTROL" feature. It will also be able to communicate with future accessories. A power port, a "Multi-Purpose External Extension Connector" (power and data transmission for possible future additional accessories), two metal contacts for charging cradle power connectors (at the bottom around external extension connector), and stereo speakers are included. The controller is charged via a proprietary cable and a dedicated charging cradle.
The Wii U GamePad has built-in near field communication, which according to Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, can be used for, among other uses, figurines that can interact with the console and wireless credit card payments with compatible cards. The Wii U GamePad also allows for asymmetric gameplay, where the player using the controller has one gameplay experience, while competing players using a Wii Remote or a Wii U Pro Controller have different experiences. When using the "Off TV Play" function, the controller can also function as a standalone screen without the use of a television screen.
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 and Microsoft's offerings. 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." 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 Controller.
The Wii U Pro Controller is not compatible with previous-generation 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 also 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 functions similar to those in the Wii U GamePad. Some other attachments include the Classic Controller, which offers a more traditional controls, similarly to the Wii U Pro Controller, the Wii Zapper, which is mainly use 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.
Near field communication (NFC)
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.
Main article: Wii U system software
The Wii U uses both the Wii U Menu and 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 system. On the other hand, the Wii Mode activates the system's backward compatibility with the original Wii and launches the Wii Menu.
The Wii U Menu dashboard
The Wii U Menu is the main dashboard of the system and is directly integrated with Miiverse and the Nintendo Network. It is a 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 internet 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 the user 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 TVii, Nintendo eShop, Friend List and the Internet Browser while a game or application is running. It also displays various information such as date and time, the wireless signal status, number of friends online, controller battery life and controller settings. Current 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.
The Wii Mode is a fully virtual Wii system inside of the Wii U, with all of the limitations and privileges therein. When a Wii game disc is inserted into the Wii U, the system automatically launches the Wii Mode. The Wii Mode system memory is limited to 512 MB, just like the Wii system memory is. The SD Card Menu is also available on the Wii U's Wii Menu, just like it is on Wii, which an up to 32 GB SDHC card can be inserted into the system. There are a few slight differences, however. The Wii System Settings are not accessible, only the data management settings. 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.
The Wii U GamePad has a "TV Control" feature that allows it to function as an infrared TV remote which allows the user conveniently change channels, adjust volume or browse a programming guide, even when the system is not powered on. It is compatible with most cable and satellite providers' set-top boxes and most TV brands. Functionality may vary by country.
Software and services
Nintendo Network is Nintendo's unified network infrastructure similar to the Sony's PlayStation Network and Microsoft's Xbox Live. Available on the Wii U and also on the Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Network for the latter provides the means for online multiplayer, online leaderboards, video chatting (achieved by the using the Wii U Gamepad's built-in camera), as well as downloads and streaming media services. Nintendo Network on the Wii U uses a user account system much like the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live, called Nintendo Network ID. One Wii U system can contain up to twelve user accounts. 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 use of friend codes on Wii games using the Wii Mode. The Nintendo Network administration team also has administrators to remove inappropriate content from its services, such as Miiverse.
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 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 includes full game and application downloads, 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.
Nintendo eShop is the Wii U's online distribution store. The eShop provides download-only Wii U titles, retail Wii U titles, Virtual Console titles, and various others applications. It will also allow users to purchase downloadable content (DLC) and to automatically download patches for both physical and downloadable games. Moreover, all content obtained from the Wii U's eShop is attached to a user account, and currently, they cannot be moved to other Wii U systems. Therefore if the console has issues in which require a replacement, purchased funds and licenses can only be transferred to a new console through Nintendo's customer support.
The Nintendo eShop is a multitasking application and can be accessed anytime via the Home Menu screen, even when a game or application is already running at the same time. Background downloading is also possible via SpotPass while playing games or using any other application such as Miiverse and the web browser. Currently, up to 10 downloads can be queued up at a time. The status of the downloads can be checked on the Home Menu under the Download Manager. If notifications are activated a pop-up message will appear in the top center corner of the screen to notify the user that a download is finished.
The eShop also supports user reviews of games, applications and other media. Users can submit a software review of with "stars" ranging from one to five, representing its quality in a crescent order. Users can also categorize games by age and gender and as suitable for hardcore or more casual gamers. These reviews can only be submitted after using the software at least one hour.
Main article: Miiverse
Miiverse, portmanteau of "Mii" and "Universe", is Wii U integrated communication system or social networking service, powered by the Nintendo Network, which allows players to interact and share their experiences through their own Miis. The Miiverse allows users to seamlessly share accomplishments, comments, and hand written notes with other users. It is integrated into the system menu of the Wii U via WaraWara Plaza, but social interactions can also occur within supported games. A user is able to suspend any game to access Miiverse functions, and then return to the game at the point it was left.
Nintendo has stated that Miiverse will be moderated through software filtering as well as a human resource team in order to ensure that the content shared by users is approporiate 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. However, such delays have not been reported by users. From February 2013 the players under the age of 12 years are no longer allowed to directly send or receive friend requests within Miiverse.
On April 25, 2013, the Miiverse became available on every internet enabled smartphone, tablet and PC devices. It will also become available on the Nintendo 3DS later in the year.
Main article: Internet Browser (Wii U)
The Wii U also contains an internet browser which allows users to browse the web on the Wii U GamePad and/or the television screen. It functions as a multitasking app on the Wii U and 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, similarly 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 also supports up to 6 tabs simultaneously. Up to 32 pages can be stored into the browser's history before the older items start being replaced.
Main article: Nintendo TVii
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 is scheduled to be released in Europe sometime in 2013.
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
Main article: 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 also draw on the GamePad during a chat session. 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.
Nintendo currently offers two types of loyalty programs on the Wii U. The Nintendo Network Premium/Deluxe Digital Promotion, in which owners trade points for Nintendo eShop credit; and Club Nintendo in which owners trade points for special Nintendo merchandising.
Nintendo Network Premium
Nintendo Network Premium in Europe, Australia and Japan, or Deluxe Digital Promotion in North America, is a loyalty program similar to PlayStation Plus offered on PlayStation Network. Consumers who purchase the Wii U Deluxe Pack (North America) / Premium Pack (Europe and Japan) will receive a free two-year subscription to this service which lets Wii U owners receive points for each download purchase. Members who buy games and apps through the Wii U Nintendo eShop will receive ten percent of the price back in the form of Nintendo Points, which can subsequently be put towards future online purchases on both the Wii U's and Nintendo 3DS's eShop. The promotion is currently planned through December 2014, with any future plans to be revealed at a later date.
Main article: Club Nintendo
Club Nintendo is a loyalty program in which users register purchased Nintendo products in order to exchange them for a variety of unique rewards. Once linked to Club Nintendo, every product downloaded through the eShop is automatically registered in the Club Nintendo account. The user can also then take a survey for each product registered to earn additional coins/stars, which then prizes can be redeemed.
Trine 2: Director's Cut was a North American and European launch title on the eShop. This scene from the Dwarven Caverns chapter is exclusive to the Wii U version.
Main articles: List of Wii U games and Wii U Download Software
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. Download-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 that were released alongside the Wii U's launch or early in its lifespan include Nintendo Land, New Super Mario Bros. U and Lego City Undercover, Third-party "launch window titles" 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 an effort to improve sales after the initial six months in the console's lifespan, Nintendo has released a variety of games during the rest of year such as Game & Wario and Pikmin 3, and they currently plan to include, The Wonderful 101, The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, Wii Party U, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Super Mario 3D World and Wii Fit U. In 2014, Nintendo plans to release Mario Kart 8, Bayonetta 2 and a new entry in the Super Smash Bros. series.
Main article: Off-TV Play
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.
Main article: Asymmetric gameplay
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 players is playing the same game with different gameplay mechanics and rules on the Wii U GamePad's screen while the rest of the players are playing the same game with different gameplay mechanics and 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.
Multiple screen multiplayer mode is also an unique feature of Wii U. It works like a traditional split-screen mode without the need for an actual split screen. The Wii U GamePad and the TV function as the separate screens in this scenario, offering each player a full screen experience to themselves. Compared to Ad-hoc multiplayer, multiple screen multiplayer works on the same console and does not need two independent systems and multiple copies of the game.
Main article: Virtual Console
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.
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 system, they cannot be played on the GamePad screen.
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 Nintendo eShop.
The Wii U received mixed reviews. 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 that there was not much of a system selling game around its launch period. Some industry figures have claimed that the Wii U is not an 8th generation console, with many citing the hardware as the reason. Reggie Fils-Aime, COO of Nintendo of America, however, has noted that similar comments were made in 2006 when the Wii first launched.
By May 2013, Electronic Arts announced that they were dialing back support for the console and had no games in development for it at the time, however they 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 PS 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. Bethesda Softworks has announced that as of July 2013 they have 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.
Life-to-date number of units shipped, in millions Date Japan America Other Total Increase
2012-12-31 0.83 1.32 0.90 3.06 N/A
2013-03-31 0.92 1.52 1.01 3.45 12.7%
2013-06-30 1.01 1.58 1.02 3.61 4.6%
As of 30 June 2013, Nintendo reports 3.61 million units have been shipped worldwide.
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 the three months leading up to June 2013 it sold 160,000 units, which was down 51% from the three months prior.
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 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. 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. 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."