"It's a system we will all enjoy together, but also one that's tailor-made for you."
2011 press conference
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). Nintendo recommends that the drive should use an external power source, as a single USB port on the console does not provide enough power; however, many owners have successfully used a USB Y-cable to power a drive with the yield from two USB ports. Further complicating matters, Wii games will ignore the console's storage and are limited to 512MB of storage (same as an actual Wii system), though 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 is also available on 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 — Currently, Miiverse has been released to the 3DS, the PC and smartphone platforms. 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
playback, but Nintendo is working with companies such as YouTube
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.
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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 1650%
Nintendo confirmed in January 2014 that the system, unfortunately, didn't meet its projected first year sales. Statements from Nintendo president Satoru Iwata have claimed that this has acted as a major wake up call for Nintendo as a whole, and they are heavily revising their console business strategy in hopes of turning the system around in time, like what Sony did with the PlayStation 3
console the previous generation.
- The CPU and GPU are built on the same package.
- Main CPU: IBM PowerPC 7xx-based tri-core processor named Espresso and is reportedly clocked at 1.24 GHz. It's based on the Broadway chip used in the Wii with various improvements for multiprocessor support. Despite IBM's Twitter announcement, it's not based on IBM's POWER7 technology, but uses technology from POWER6.
- OS CPU (used for Miiverse and other OS functions): Dual core ARM Cortex A8 at 1 GHz . A ARM9 chip clocked at 567 MHz named "Starbuck" provides backwards compatibility for the "Starlet" CPU used in the Wii.
- GPU: AMD Radeon based GPU codenamed "Latte" reportedly clocked in at 550 MHz. Number of shading units is supposedly 320 based on die shots.
- RAM: 2 GB of DDR3-1600 SDRAM @ 1600MHz. 1GB is available to games, the other 1GB is reserved for the system software.
- The GPU contains 36 MB of eDRAM (32 MB main eDram for the main screen & 4 MB for the game pad/Wii mode)
- Storage: 8 GB (Basic) or 32 GB (Deluxe) of internal flash memory
- The Wii U can use SD memory cards up to 32 GB (only for Wii Mode) and USB hard disk drives up to 2 TB (but only for Wii U applications).
- Along with being able use Wii optical disks, the Wii U uses a Blu-ray based optical disk with 25GB per layer.
- The Wii U can output 1080p, 1080i, 720p, 576i (PAL Only), 480p, 480i, standard 4:3 and 16:9 anamorphic widescreen
- The gamepad's resolution is 854x480.
- AV outputs to either HDMI or Nintendo's AV port
- Wireless options are 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0
- Four USB 2.0 ports, two in the front, two in the back.
Famicom 30th Anniversary Campaign for Virtual Console
"Look for the U on the box."