The Wii (pronounced as the English pronoun we, ) is a home video game console released by Nintendo. A distinguishing feature of the console is its wireless controller, the Wii Remote, which can be used as a handheld pointing device and detect movement in three dimensions. Another distinctive feature of the console is WiiConnect24, which enables it to receive messages and updates over the Internet while in standby mode.
As a seventh-generation console, the Wii primarily competes with Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3. Nintendo states that its console targets a broader demographic than that of both. The Financial Times reported that as of September 12, 2007, the Wii is the sales leader of its generation, based on sales figures from Enterbrain, NPD Group, and GfK.
The Wii is Nintendo's fifth home console, the direct successor to the Nintendo GameCube, and able to play all official GameCube games. Nintendo first spoke of the console at the 2004 E3 press conference and later unveiled the system at the 2005 E3. Satoru Iwata revealed a prototype of the controller at the September 2005 Tokyo Game Show. At E3 2006, the console won the first of several awards. By December 8, 2006, it had completed its launch in four key markets.
Two years later, engineers and designers were brought together to develop the concept further. By 2005, the controller interface had taken form, but a public showing at that year's E3 was withdrawn. Miyamoto stated that, "[W]e had some troubleshooting to do. So we decided not to reveal the controller and instead we displayed just the console." Nintendo president Satoru Iwata later unveiled and demonstrated the Wii Remote at the September Tokyo Game Show.
The Nintendo DS is said to have influenced the Wii design. Designer Ken'ichiro Ashida noted, "We had the DS on our minds as we worked on the Wii. We thought about copying the DS's touch-panel interface and even came up with a prototype." The idea was eventually rejected, with the notion that the two gaming systems would be identical. Miyamoto also expressed that, "[I]f the DS had flopped, we might have taken the Wii back to the drawing board."
Nintendo has attributed the success of the Wii to the ideas presented in the business strategy book Blue Ocean Strategy. Within the context of a Blue Ocean Strategy analysis, the key factors of the Wii reflect what is termed the "Six Path Framework" described within the book. While Nintendo has not publicly released the factors used, it is believed that they include "price", "movie playing", "graphics", "physics", "fun", "game library", and "magic wand". Applying the Four Actions Framework would eliminate movie playing, reduce graphics and physics, raise fun and the game library, and lead to the creation of their "magic wand": the Wii Remote.
Wii sounds like 'we', which emphasizes that the console is for everyone. Wii can easily be remembered by people around the world, no matter what language they speak. No confusion. No need to abbreviate. Just Wii.
Despite Nintendo's justification for the name, some video game developers and members of the press reacted negatively towards the change. They preferred "Revolution" over "Wii" and expressed fear "that the name would convey a continued sense of 'kidiness' to the console." The BBC reported the day after the name was announced that "a long list of puerile jokes, based on the name," had appeared on the Internet. Nintendo of America's president Reggie Fils-Aime acknowledged the initial reaction and further explained the change:
Revolution as a name is not ideal; it's long, and in some cultures, it's hard to pronounce. So we wanted something that was short, to the point, easy to pronounce, and distinctive. That's how 'Wii,' as a console name, was created.
Nintendo of America's then-VP of Corporate Affairs Perrin Kaplan defended its choice of "Wii" over "Revolution" and responded to critics of the name by stating, "Live with it, sleep with it, eat with it, move along with it and hopefully they'll arrive at the same place."
On September 14, 2006, Nintendo announced release information for Japan, North and South America, Australasia (Oceania), Asia and Europe, including dates, prices, and projected unit distribution numbers. It was announced that the majority of the 2006 shipments would be allotted to the Americas, and that 33 titles would be available in the 2006 launch window. The United Kingdom suffered a large shortage of console units as many high-street and online stores were unable to fulfill all pre-orders when it was released on December 8, 2006. Some UK stores still had a shortage of consoles as of March 2007, demand still outpaced supply in the United States as of June 2007, and the console "selling out almost as quickly as it hits retail shelves" in Canada as of April 2008.
|Region||Units shipped||First available|
|Americas||13.11 million||November 19, 2006|
|Japan||6.43 million||December 2, 2006|
|Other regions||10.08 million||December 8, 2006|
On September 12, 2007, it was reported by the Financial Times that the Wii had surpassed the Xbox 360, which was released one year previously, and had become the market leader in home console sales for the current generation, based on sales figures from Enterbrain, NPD Group, and GfK. This is the first time a Nintendo console has led its generation in sales since the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Nintendo warned that the Wii would remain in short supply throughout 2007, while the company produces approximately 1.8 million Wii consoles each month.
In 2007, the Wii was the second best-selling game console (behind the Nintendo DS) in the US and Japan with 6.29 million and 3,629,361 units sold respectively, according to the NPD Group and Enterbrain. During the same year, the Wii had outsold the PlayStation 3 by 3:1 in Japan, while the Xbox 360 had sold 257,841 units in that region that year, according to Enterbrain. In Europe, the Wii sold 0.7 million units in 2006 and 4.8 million in 2007 according to estimates by Electronic Arts. Prior to the release of the NPD Group's video game statistics for January 2008, the Wii has been ahead of the Xbox 360 and PS3 in US sales in most months since the Wii and PS3 were released, according to data by the NPD Group. In the United States, the Wii has sold 10.9 million units as of July 1, 2008, making it the leader in current-generation home console sales, surpassing the Xbox 360 which was released a year prior to the Wii, according to the NPD Group.
In Japan, the Wii had surpassed the number of Nintendo GameCube units sold by January 2008; the Wii has sold 6.67 million units as of September 1, 2008, according to Enterbrain. According to the NPD Group, the Wii surpassed the Xbox 360 to become the best-selling "next generation" home video game console in Canada with 813,000 units sold by April 1, 2008, and was the best-selling home console for 13 of the past 17 months; in the first six months of 2008, the Wii has sold 318,000 units in Canada, outselling its nearest competitor, the PlayStation 3, almost 2:1. According to the NPD Group, the Wii has sold a total of 1,060,000 units in Canada as of August 1, 2008, making it the first current generation home console to surpass the million unit mark in that country; in the first seven months of 2008, the Wii outsold the PS3 and the Xbox 360 combined with 376,000 units sold in Canada. In the United Kingdom, the Wii leads in current generation home console sales with 3.6 million units sold as of September 2008, according to GfK Chart-Track. Nintendo anticipates worldwide sales of the Wii to reach 50 million units by March 2009.
While Microsoft and Sony have experienced losses producing their consoles in the hopes of making a long-term profit on software sales, Nintendo reportedly has optimized production costs to obtain a significant profit margin with each Wii unit sold. According to the Financial Times, this direct profit per Wii sold may vary from $13 in Japan to $49 in the United States and $79 in Europe.
This is reflected in Nintendo's series of television advertisements in North America, directed by Academy Award winner Stephen Gaghan, as well as Internet ads. The ad slogans are "Wii would like to play" and "Experience a new way to play." These ads ran starting November 15, 2006 and had a total budget of over US$200 million throughout the year. The productions are Nintendo's first broad-based advertising strategy and include a two-minute video clip showing a varied assortment of people enjoying the Wii system, such as urban apartment-dwellers, country ranchers, grandparents, and parents with their children. The music in the ads is from the song "Kodo (Inside the Sun Remix)" by the Yoshida Brothers. The marketing campaign has proved to be successful: pensioners as old as 103 have been reported to be playing the Wii in the United Kingdom. A report by the British newspaper The People also stated that Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain has played using the console.
The Wii is Nintendo's smallest home console to date; it measures 44 mm (1.73 in) wide, 157 mm (6.18 in) tall and 215.4 mm (8.48 in) deep in its vertical orientation, the near-equivalent of three DVD cases stacked together. The included stand measures 55.4 mm (2.18 in) wide, 44 mm (1.73 in) tall and 225.6 mm (8.88 in) deep. The system weighs 1.2 kg (2.7 lb), which makes it the lightest of the three major seventh generation consoles. The console can be placed either horizontally or vertically. The prefix for the numbering scheme of the system and its parts and accessories is "RVL-" after its project code name of "Revolution". The console also features a recurring theme or design: the console itself, SD cards, the power supply and all the sockets have one of their corners chipped off in a triangular fashion.
The front of the console features an illuminated slot-loading optical media drive that accepts both 12 cm Wii Optical Discs and Nintendo GameCube Game Discs. The blue light in the disc slot illuminates briefly when the console is turned on and pulsates when new data is received through WiiConnect24. After firmware update 3.0, the disc slot light activates whenever a Wii disc is inserted or ejected. When there is no WiiConnect24 information, the light stays off. The disc slot light remains off during gameplay or when using other features. Two USB ports are located at its rear. An SD card slot hides behind the cover on the front of the console. The SD card can be used for uploading photos as well as backing up saved game data and downloaded Virtual Console games. To use the SD slot for transferring game saves, an update must be installed. An installation can be initiated from the Wii options menu through an Internet connection, or by inserting a game disc containing the updated firmware. Virtual Console data cannot be restored to any system except the unit of origin. An SD card can also be used to create customized in-game music from stored MP3 files, as first shown in Excite Truck, as well as music for the slideshow feature of the Photo Channel. Version 1.1 of the Photo Channel removed MP3 playback in favor of AAC support.
Nintendo has shown the console and the Wii Remote in white, black, silver, lime green, and red, but it is currently available only in white. Shigeru Miyamoto stated that other colors would become available after the easing of supply limitations.
The Wii launch package includes the console, a stand to allow the console to be placed vertically, a circular clear stabilizer for the main stand, one Wii Remote, one Nunchuk attachment, one Sensor Bar, a removable stand for the bar, one external main power adapter, two AA batteries, one composite AV cable with RCA connectors, a SCART adapter in European countries (component video and other types of cables are available separately), operation documentation, and, in all regions except Japan and South Korea, a copy of the game Wii Sports.
Nintendo plans to release a version of the console with DVD-Video playback capabilities. This new model will use the CinePlayer CE DVD Navigator software engine by Sonic Solutions. After announcing the DVD version for 2007, Nintendo delayed its release to focus on producing the original console to meet demand. Although software will be used to enable DVD-Video functionality, Nintendo has stated that it "requires more than a firmware upgrade" to implement and that the functionality would be unavailable as an upgrade option for the existing Wii model. Despite Nintendo's assertion that a firmware update would be unable to provide DVD playback to existing Wii consoles, a homebrew DVD player was released for the original Wii.
At the Nintendo Fall Press Conference on October 2008, Satoru Iwata announced that Wii owners would have the option to download WiiWare and Virtual Console content directly onto an SD card. The option would offer an alternative to "address the console's insufficient memory storage". The feature will become available in Japan in the spring of 2009.
The Wii Remote is the primary controller for the console. It uses a combination of built-in accelerometers and infrared detection to sense its position in 3D space when pointed at the LEDs within the Sensor Bar. This design allows users to control the game using physical gestures as well as traditional button presses. The controller connects to the console using Bluetooth and features rumble as well as an internal speaker. The Wii Remote can connect to expansion devices through a proprietary port at the base of the controller. The device bundled with the Wii retail package is the Nunchuk unit, which features an accelerometer and a traditional analog stick with two trigger buttons. In addition, an attachable wrist strap can be used to prevent the player from unintentionally dropping or throwing the Wii Remote. In response to incidents of strap failure, Nintendo is offering a free, stronger replacement for all straps. Nintendo has also since offered the Wii Remote Jacket to provide extra grip and protection.
Ports and peripheral capabilities:
Built-in content ratings systems:
With the release of dual-layer Wii Optical Discs, Nintendo of America has stated that some Wii systems may have difficulty reading the high-density software due to a contaminated laser lens. Nintendo is offering a free repair for owners who experience this issue.
The Wii Remote can lose track of the Wii system that it has been set to, requiring that it be reset and resynchronized. Nintendo's support website provides instructions for this process, and to troubleshoot related issues.
Anascape Ltd, a Texas-based firm, also filed a lawsuit against Nintendo for patent infringements regarding Nintendo's controllers. A July 2008 verdict found that a ban would be issued preventing Nintendo from selling the Classic Controller in the United States. Nintendo is free to continue selling the Classic Controller pending an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
On August 19, 2008 Hillcrest Laboratories Inc. filed a complaint against Nintendo with the U.S International Trade Commission. The complaint alleges that the Wii Remote infringes on three of its patents. A fourth Hillcrest patent for graphical interfaces displayed on television screens is also alleged to have been violated. Hillcrest seeks a ban on Wii consoles imported to the U.S.
The Wii Menu operating system interface is designed around the concept of television channels. Separate channels are graphically displayed in a grid and are navigated using the pointer capability of the Wii Remote. It is possible to change the arrangement of the channels by holding down the A and B buttons. There are six primary channels: the Disc Channel, Mii Channel, Photo Channel, Wii Shop Channel, Forecast Channel, and News Channel. The latter two were initially unavailable at launch, but activated through firmware updates. Additional channels are available for download from the Wii Shop Channel through WiiWare and also appear with each Virtual Console title. These include the Everybody Votes Channel, Internet Channel, Check Mii Out Channel, and the Nintendo Channel.
The Wii console is backward compatible with all official Nintendo GameCube software, as well as Nintendo GameCube Memory Cards and controllers. Compatibility with software is achieved with the slot-loading drive's ability to accept Nintendo GameCube Game Discs. The console supports progressive-scan output in 480p-enabled GameCube titles. Peripherals can be connected via a set of four GameCube controller ports and two Memory Card slots concealed by removable flip-open panels. The console therefore retains connectivity with the Game Boy Advance and e-Reader through the Game Boy Advance Cable, which is used in the same manner as it was used with the GameCube. This feature can only be accessed on those select GameCube titles that previously utilized it. Gamercize accessories also utilize the backward compatibility in order to support the Wii console. The Wii set for release in South Korea will lack GameCube backward compatibility.
A Wii console running a GameCube disc is restricted to GameCube functionality. As such, a GameCube controller is required to play GameCube titles, as neither the Wii Remote nor the Classic Controller functions in this capacity. A Nintendo GameCube Memory Card is also necessary to save game progress and content, as the Wii internal flash memory will not save GameCube games.
Backward compatibility is limited in some areas. Online and LAN-enabled features for Nintendo GameCube titles are unavailable on the Wii, as the console lacks serial ports for the Broadband Adapter and Modem Adapter. The console uses a proprietary port for video output and is therefore incompatible with all Nintendo GameCube audio/video cables (composite video, S-Video, component video and RGB SCART). The console also lacks the GameCube footprint and high-speed port needed for Game Boy Player support. The Wii was initially compatible with the GameCube Action Replay, which would work with GameCube titles. The firmware update to 3.0 has caused restrictions to this device along with various unlicensed freeloaders, however.
The service has several features for the console including the Virtual Console, WiiConnect24, Internet Channel, Forecast Channel, Everybody Votes Channel, News Channel and the Check Mii Out Channel. The console can also communicate and connect with other Wii systems through a self-generated wireless LAN, enabling local wireless multiplayer on different television sets. Battalion Wars 2 first demonstrated this feature for non-split screen multiplayer between two or more televisions.
European units mainly use the PEGI rating system, whereas North American units use the ESRB rating system. The Wii unit supports the native rating systems of many countries, including CERO in Japan, the USK in Germany, both the PEGI and BBFC in the United Kingdom and the OFLC in Australia and New Zealand.
Retail copies of games are supplied on proprietary, DVD-like Wii Optical Discs packaged in a keep case along with instruction information. On European releases, these retail boxes have a triangle printed at the bottom corner of the paper insert sleeve side. The hue of the triangle can be used to identify which region the particular title is intended for and which manual languages are included. The console supports regional lockout.
New games representing Nintendo's flagship franchises, including The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Mario (and spin-offs), Animal Crossing, Pokémon, Super Smash Bros., and Fire Emblem, have been released, or are in development for the Wii. Likewise, there are original titles for it as well as expected third party games. Ubisoft announced eight titles for release over the launch period and have stated that they have a further six currently in development while Midway Games has announced six titles. EA has declared their '100%' support for the system and has since gone on to purchase long-time partner Headgate Studios, which now develops exclusively for Nintendo's console. Namco Bandai also announced that they are developing 37 games for the Wii for their fiscal year ending March 2008. On April 27, 2007, Satoru Iwata stated that 45 out of Nintendo's 124 first-party games are being developed for the console; the other 79 titles are being developed for the Nintendo DS. As of July 25, 2007 the Wii has more exclusive games in development than the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. On October 2008, Nintendo announced that it would release a "Play on the Wii" selection of enhanced GameCube games updated to take advantage of motion control.
The Virtual Console service allows Wii owners to play games originally released for the Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Nintendo Entertainment System and Nintendo 64, as well as Sega's Mega Drive/Genesis and SG-1000 Mark III/Sega Master System, NEC's TurboGrafx-16/PC Engine, and the SNK Neo Geo console. Virtual Console games are distributed over broadband Internet via the Wii Shop Channel, and are saved to the Wii internal flash memory or to a removable SD card. Once downloaded, Virtual Console games can be accessed from the Wii Menu as individual channels.
The worldwide success of the Wii has caught third party developers by surprise, leading to some apologizing for the quality of their early games. In an interview with German news magazine Der Spiegel, Ubisoft's Yves Guillemot and Alain Corre admitted that they had made a mistake in rushing out their launch titles, promising to take future projects more seriously. Take-Two Interactive, who released few games for the Nintendo GameCube, has changed its stance on Nintendo, putting a higher priority in developing for the Wii, with Manhunt 2 being one of their first releases on the system.
At the same time, criticism of the Wii Remote and the Wii hardware specifications has surfaced. Former GameSpot editor Jeff Gerstmann stated that the controller's speaker produces low-quality sound, while Factor 5 President Julian Eggebrecht criticized the hardware audio as being substandard for a console of its generation. U.K.-based developer Free Radical Design stated that the Wii hardware lacks the power necessary to run the software it had scheduled for release on other seventh generation consoles. The online connectivity of the Wii was subject to criticism, as Matt Casamassina of IGN compared it to the "entirely unintuitive" service provided for the Nintendo DS.
An executive for Frontline Studios expressed that major publishers are wary of releasing exclusive titles for the console due to the perception that third-party companies are not strongly supported by consumers. In his blog, 1UP.com editor Jeremy Parish stated that Nintendo was the biggest disappointment for him in 2007. Commenting on the lack of quality third-party support, he stated that "the Wii landscape is bleak. Worse than it was on N64. Worse than on GameCube...the resulting third-party content is overwhelmingly bargain-bin trash."
Game designer and The Sims creator Will Wright shared his thoughts on the Wii within the context of the current console generation: "The only next gen system I've seen is the Wii – the PS3 and the Xbox 360 feel like better versions of the last, but pretty much the same game with incremental improvement. But the Wii feels like a major jump – not that the graphics are more powerful, but that it hits a completely different demographic."
Using the Wii is often seen as being more physically demanding than other game consoles. Some Wii players have occasionally experienced a form of tennis elbow referred to as "Wiiitis". A study published in the British Medical Journal states that Wii players use more energy than playing sedentary computer games. It is however indicated that while this energy increase may be beneficial to weight management, it is not an adequate replacement for regular exercise. A case study published in the American Physical Therapy Association’s journal Physical Therapy focused on use of the Wii for rehabilitation of a teen with cerebral palsy. It is believed to be the first published research showing the physical therapy benefits resulting from use of the gaming system. Researchers say the gaming system complements traditional techniques.