"It's a system we will all enjoy together, but also one that's tailor-made for you."The Wii U is Nintendo's successor to the Wii and their entry into The Eighth Generation of Console Video Games. It was released on November 18, 2012 in the US, November 30, 2012 in Europe and Australia, and December 8, 2012 in Japan. What distinguishes Wii U from the Wii and its competitors is that the controller itself, called the Wii U GamePad, has a 6.2 inch touch screen on it note , and it allows players to play their video game while someone in their room watches TV, though the console must still be on, as the GamePad does not do any computing on its own and instead acts as sort of a dumb terminal for the console. In addition, players can use both the Wii U controller and the TV itself to interact further with video games; the most notable innovation is the potential for Asymmetric Multiplayer, with one player doing one thing on the GamePad and the rest doing something else with Wii remotes. When not playing games, it can even function as a "TVii" remote control through the press of a button, as well as allow users to record shows and browse video-on-demand services. Wii U is backward compatible with other Wii controllers and accessories and Wii games (through an emulation of the Wii Menu), but not Nintendo GameCube games (though such have been rumored to be available for the Virtual Console). The controller itself can actually stream video for video chatting, and can even be used to share videos and other media. The controller supports near-field communication (NFC) common in mobile devices, allowing for wireless interaction with figurines and cards as well as microtransactions with credit cards that utilize NFC support (incidentally, Nintendo originally planned on the Wii having such a touch screen controller, but they instead went with motion controls while saving the touch screen for the Wii U). The Wii U launched with two sets: a basic set and a premium set, retailing for $300 and $350, respectively, in the United States. The basic set comes with a white console that has 8GB of internal flash memory storage, while the premium set comes with a black console with 32GB of internal storage, the pack-in game Nintendo Land, and a few other bells and whistles. On September 20th, 2013, the premium version was lowered to the basic price point, and the basic version discontinued entirely. The amount of storage on either model can be increased to larger amounts with a USB hard drive (with some games requiring one to download, especially with larger games on the 8 GB model), though the hard drive must have an external power source as the Wii U does not support models powered by a computer's USB port without an adapter to give it power from another source. Wii games accessed through the Wii Menu compatibility layer and the Wii Shop Channel still use the same amount of storage as an actual Wii and not the 8 or 32 GB amount the Wii U mode uses, but this can be expanded with an SD card up to 32 GB. Nintendo has also attempted to bring their online efforts up to par with their competitors, calling this revamped network the Nintendo Network, which will also eventually encompass the Nintendo 3DS. This new online setup allows developers to create their own setup instead of forcing developers to adhere to a unified online variant. Nintendo themselves has implemented an individual account system, which makes management of different users easier. Plus, the cumbersome friend codes have been eradicated. There is a new user interface/social network called the Miiverse, which will be the main menu for the system. Miiverse shows your personal Mii; any Miis on the system; Miis of your friends; and crucially, Miis of other people playing games you own. The Miiverse even lets you see what friends are doing, even if you don't have the same games as them. Through the GamePad, the player will be able to communicate with any of these Miis via messaging, screenshots, or simple doodles. This also expands to otherwise single-player or offline-only multiplayer games, and the messaging aspect itself will be cross-platform — Nintendo plans to integrate Miiverse into the 3DS, and will also release Miiverse applications for PCs and smartphones. Similarly to the 3DS, Miiverse can be brought up at any time during gameplay, with gameplay itself suspended. There are a few problems, though. Even though the Wii U supports two simultaneous GamePads, each GamePad is so expensive that Nintendo will be focusing on single-controller possibilities for the time being. All currently-displayed multiplayer games give one player a GamePad and the rest Wii controllers (or the Wii U Pro Controller). Also, as with the previous two Nintendo systems, it does not support DVD or Blu-ray playback, but Nintendo is working with companies such as YouTube and Hulu to provide video content. The system has also had a mixed track record of third-party support: a bunch of developers who basically refused to program for the GCN or Wii came back to the U, but several others left, most of them citing the lower-power hardware and the difficulties of utilizing the GamePad. Its internet browser has tabbed browsing support. Guess what this means for you? note A week after launch, Nintendo released their estimated sales figures: 400,000 units. For comparison, the Wii managed 475,000 units during its first week, the Xbox 360 managed about 400,000 units, and the PS3 managed somewhere between 150,000 and 400,000 units (Sony never made a firm statement. The PS3 was also the only console on this list to debut in Japan, which may or may not have impacted their sales). However, after a couple of months of semi-successful sales, in January 2013, the Wii U hit a record low with just over 50,000 consoles sold, with similar numbers continuing through June. This has been blamed on the slow release of games, inept marketing that made the population think it was just an upgraded Wii (which Nintendo has accepted responsibility for) and the thought that Nintendo may have released the console a bit too early. Sales rebounded after the price cut, augmented by a special-edition deluxe model that came packed with a code to get a digital version of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker; so far this price drop has caused sales of the system to spike in certain parts of the world, as much as a whopping 685%.
—Reggie Fils-Aime, E3 2011 press conference
Famicom 30th Anniversary Campaign for Virtual Console