I’ll admit that the E3 reveal of Nintendo’s new console, the Wii U, was nowhere near as powerful as Nintendo’s past console reveals. We didn’t get Iwata saying something like “You wanted a revolution. Well, we’ve got one” and then procuring the console from inside his jacket. We didn’t get Reggie saying “The wait is over” or anything like that. We got an explanation and some demonstration videos, which to be honest, were exactly what the Wii U needed. It was a change for Nintendo, and it needed explaining. Then of course, it needed the proof to back up the claims!
At first, I didn’t know what to think of Wii U. Was it sort of mocking those who had referred to it as Wii 2 previously, with a bit of a rhyme? Why wasn’t the name as awesome and unique as Café, Feel or Stream? Then there was how we barely saw the console as just the new controller was really shown off. I had no idea what to think. Since then more details have been released and we’ve had the chance to see more videos and demonstrations. The press conference reveal has now sunk in and I’ve had the chance to rewatch it several times. Finally, I now have an opinion on the Wii U: it is genius. Why is it genius you ask? Well that’s exactly what this feature will address!
At first it was hard to tell whether the Wii U was a step into the next generation of consoles or just a small incremental step in that direction. The name Wii U really didn’t help us to see it as its own new console, but really as a Wii 2 of sorts, or a partial step towards the next generation. I was taken aback by the lack of creativity. There was no Feel, Stream of Café. It was just Wii U. Now I understand that name is both fitting for the console and an excellent marketing strategy.
The original Wii has a massive userbase of millions of people worldwide. For many of them, the Wii was their first home console and even their first video gaming experience. For many, it was the first time in their life they’ve ever wanted to be called a gamer. Without question, Nintendo expanded the gaming population beyond the past preconceived boundaries of age and gender. The Wii truly did provide a gaming revolution as the initial codename suggested.
The issue Nintendo faced was how to bring these new crowds of gamers along into the new generation. Many of these people have become attached to their Wii, and let’s face it – pretty much everyone in our society knows what a Wii is. Not everyone knows what a XBox or Playstation is. The Wii established a brand name in and of itself. Unlike the “Nintendo Gamecube” or “Nintendo 64”, it was just the “Wii”.
Nintendo wisely decided that they can’t just abandon the brand name the Wii has established in the community. Think of this as similar to the progression from the Game Boy Color to the Game Boy Advance. The “Game Boy” name dominated handhelds until the DS arrived, so was kept from the ‘80s right through until the time of the DS in the ‘00s.
If the console was called Café, for instance, what prominence the Wii established in the community would be lost. People would be saying things like “What’s a Nintendo Café? Ah, it’s a new console from Nintendo. Well it is no Wii!” That is what could have been, but will not be. Now the talk of the town will be “Have you got the new Wii yet?”; “Have you seen the Wii 2?”; “Have you seen the new Wii’s controller?”
All of the “casual” Wii gamers will now seamlessly make the transition across to a new Wii. It uses the same remotes, but also has a new fun controller. Of course, the console can do much more, but to most of the “casuals” it is just a new Wii loaded with new experiences. Not only does this explain why Nintendo kept the name “Wii”, but it also explains that it was a very smart business decision.
Of course, having “Wii” in the title also directly relates to and fits with the new console itself. As we know, and was also explained during Nintendo’s E3 conference, “Wii” is a play on the word “we”. It was all about expanding the gaming audience and playing together. “We” could play as a family. It was about social interaction in gaming, but in person – not online.
By keeping the Wii in the title it is still all of those things. With the Wii games and remotes being backward compatible, it quite literally still is everything the Wii was, but now is so much more. Wii remotes can even be used in Wii U exclusive games, meaning that everything the Wii stood for is not dead. Wii U is ultimately a Wii+. A Wii with more. You can do the exact same as the Wii, or take up new experiences. But that is not all, because the Wii U still has another part to its name.
In this scenario the “Wii” in the name pertains to the userbase of the Wii – those generally termed as “casuals”. On the contrary the additional “U” refers to you – the more “core” gamer, here at a gaming site, getting all of the news and analysis you can on Nintendo’s side of the industry. The Wii U is the perfect oxymoron. It is the perfect juxtaposition. It is contradictory just like Reggie said at E3. It is something for you, but also something for the collective masses, dubbed as “Wii”. The Wii U is both a social experience and one just for you!
Into this new console Nintendo has amped up the technical specifications like never before. It is in full HD, has the ability to produce stunning graphics and sound, has more memory and power than any other Nintendo console, and has a strong online system. Basically Nintendo has provided a platform that can do it all, but not just for them. Nintendo can develop all of their usual games using only the capabilities of the original Wii if they so desired for some reason, but the larger potential is there, and it is the third party developers where that really starts to make a difference.
Leading up to E3, the Wii U was regularly praised by Ubisoft, and that has flowed through to now. We saw a video during Nintendo’s press conference from third party developers praising it, and EA even came out on stage. Nintendo securing a big independent developer like EA to promote their console live at their conference is a big step. All of the big third party developers, and all of the little ones too, are all excited for what this new console can do.
Nintendo has finally won over the third parties. We do not know the extent of it – but the initial reaction from these developers is massive. Already big titles are in development for Wii U, and hardly any of them are made by Nintendo. Nintendo’s E3 press conference showed off more first person shooters, more realistic graphics, more slicing and more blood than ever before. No, not because Nintendo has changed direction and contradicted their values – but because they have widened the horizons and capabilities of their new console.
Look at what we have heard about the new controller. It is only going to come bundled with the console and not be available to purchase individually – so the news of the moment goes. Some people have mentioned how Nintendo have to retail them individually because of if a controller breaks, but it is not unlikely that such a occurrence would need to be followed up directly through Nintendo. With that said, at the moment you can only have one controller. Your controller. A controller that’s all about you and your experience.
As Iwata said at E3, it’s intuitively simply with its motion controls and touch screen. At the same time it can also be extremely complex, requiring two directional pads to play – just the way the “core” gamers want it. Be it just a single letter tagged on the “Wii” to provide the new console’s name, U is still entirely appropriate. It encapsulates everything that the phrase “Wii” doesn’t. It is a Wii that’s just for U. It is for everyone. Think of it this way. We + You = Us. Wii + U = Everyone.
It was a great moment to see Iwata actually taking about the “casual” and “core” gaming divide and admitting that the Wii didn’t cater to everyone in the gaming industry. Many said it was only for “casuals” and “fanboys”, but it is obvious that those people completely ignore the changes the Wii has caused to the industry, because the phrase should now be “fanperson”. Nintendo knows this. It is in their philosophy to learn and listen intently to their consumers, and as was said at E3, they’ve heard us. Wii U is about something for everyone. A deeper gaming experience for the widest gaming audience ever.
Of course, there is one downside to Nintendo’s strategy of keeping the Wii name. Those hardened gamers with closed minds will be unwilling to embrace something called the “Wii” – which is known for its casual reputation. Sure, it may mean that Nintendo doesn’t get as wider of an audience as they had hoped, but for us individually, who cares? It is their own loss if they are not willing to accept that Nintendo has provided a fantastic console, and will miss out on many experiences that they would love.
It truly is going to be something for everyone. Something for us. Something for gamers. Who really cares if you’re “casual” or “core” because Wii U has everything for you? Sure, you may never even use the console’s full potential, but you will get everything that U want out of it. Games will range right through from the Wii Sport mini-games, to classic Nintendo titles like Zelda and Mario, and right through to other core gaming franchises from third party developers. From the simple cartoon to as realistic as they come. From the pleasant smiles to the vicious bloody slaughters. For the first time ever a Nintendo console has it all!
There is something for everyone without question. Something notable about the Wii U is that it allows for transitions. “Casual” players can easily move themselves up to play more “core” titles and discover what sort of gaming really is for them. People accused Nintendo of selling out with the Wii by apparently abandoning “core” gamers. Of course, people will accuse them of selling out again with this expansion to include all gamers in one system. In all of this, wii are the winners. U are a winner. We get a wider array of games than ever on the next Nintendo console.
There were rumors before its reveal that the Wii U might sell alongside the Wii, with the Wii for “casual” gamers and the Wii U for the “core”. Instead of those complications, Nintendo has put that speculation to rest with the simple response of combining both into one console. The Wii was about expanding the gaming population, which it did – but it also created the massive gaming divide of “casual” and “core”.
Now with Wii U, the divide is being closed. All types of gamers are being bought together into one system where the choice is theirs.The choice of how to play and what to play really now is yours, and it is larger than ever before. Developers are already all over this new machine, and one day next year, so will U! Once again I find myself leaving with the words, I’m sorry that I ever doubted you Nintendo. The Wii U is all ‘round genius!