Wii

Wii
Wii logo
Wii with Wii Remote
Original white Wii standing upright on its stand next to a Wii Remote
Also known as
  • Nintendo Revolution (pre-release)
  • RVL (codename)
Developer Nintendo IRD
Manufacturer Foxconn
Type Home video game console
Generation Seventh generation
Release date
Lifespan 2006–2013 (RVL-001)
2011–2013 (RVL-101)
2012–2017 (RVL-201)
Introductory price
Discontinued
Units shipped 101.63 million (as of September 30, 2019) (details)
Media
Operating system Wii system software
CPU IBM PowerPC Broadway @ 729 MHz
Memory 24 MB 1T-SRAM @ 324 MHz (2.7 GB/s) + 64 MB GDDR3 SDRAM
Storage 512 MB NAND flash memory
Removable storage
Display
Graphics ATI Hollywood @ 243 MHz
Controller input
Connectivity Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11 b/g
Bluetooth
2 × USB 2.0[12]
LAN Adapter (via USB 2.0)[13]
Online services
Dimensions
  • Width: 157 mm (6.2 in)
  • Height: 60 mm (2.4 in)
  • Depth: 197 mm (7.8 in)
Mass
  • 1,220 g (43 oz)
Best-selling game
Backward
compatibility
GameCube[a]
Predecessor GameCube
Successor Wii U
Website wii.com

The Wii (/w/ WEE)[g] is a home video game console released by Nintendo on November 19, 2006. It is Nintendo's fifth major home video game console, following the Nintendo GameCube, and is a seventh generation home console alongside Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3.

The GameCube had fallen behind in sales compared to previous console offerings from Microsoft and Sony. Around 2003, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata made the decision for the company's next console to focus less on computational and graphics power and instead reinventing the console's interface to target a broader demographic of players, using the codename Revolution for this new console as he believed it would spark a gaming revolution. With game designers Shigeru Miyamoto and Genyo Takeda taking the lead on the console's development, Nintendo created the Wii with its wireless Wii Remote controller that uses a combination of various motion sensing technologies and traditional controller features. The Wii Remote could be used as a pointing device or as a means to detect motion of the player's arm or body, creating new types of gameplay mechanics for the system. The Wii is also Nintendo's first home console to directly support Internet connectivity, and its system software provided a number of Wii Channels that used these new connectivity features to provide system and software updates, news channels, streaming media applications, and support for digital distribution of games including emulation of games from older consoles through the Virtual Console. These online features also allowed connectivity with the Nintendo DS for data sharing between supported games. The original Wii model also had direct support for GameCube games and hardware. Two additional Wii models were produced: RVL-101 which shared the same design as the original model but removed the GameCube compatibility features, and later, RVL-201 (Wii Mini) which was a redesigned budget model which further removed features including online connectivity and SD card storage.

Because of Nintendo's decision to focus less on computational power, the Wii and its games were less expensive than those of Microsoft and Sony. The Wii was extremely popular at launch, causing the system to be in short supply in some markets. The pack-in game, Wii Sports, was considered the killer app for the console, effectively demonstrating the effectiveness of the Wii Remote as a motion sensing game controller. Other milestone titles included Mario Kart Wii, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Wii Play, Wii Fit, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and Super Mario Galaxy, all which sold over 10 million copies. Within a year of launch, the Wii became the sales-leader against the other seventh-generation consoles, and by 2013, had surpassed over 100 million units sold. Total lifetime sales of the Wii had reached over 101 million units, trailing only being the original Playstation (102 million) and PlayStation 2 (155 million) consoles. The Wii repositioned Nintendo as a key player in the video game hardware marketplace; the introduction of the Wii Remote motion control led both Microsoft and Sony to develop their own competing products, the Kinect and PlayStation Move, respectively.

Nintendo had found that while the Wii had broadened the demographics that they wanted, the core gamer audience had shunned the Wii. The Wii's successor, the Wii U, was aimed to recapture this core gamer market with additional features atop the Wii. The Wii U was released in 2012, and Nintendo continued to sell both units through the following year. The Wii was formally discontinued in October 2013, though Nintendo continued to produce and market the Wii Mini through 2017, and offered a subset of the Wii's online services through 2019.

History

Development

Satoru Iwata as Nintendo's president directed the company to design the Wii out-of-the-box to appeal to a broader range of players.

After Nintendo released the GameCube in 2001, the company began conceptualizing their next console offering. Nintendo game designer Shigeru Miyamoto said that they had focused on a new form of player interaction. "The consensus was that power isn't everything for a console. Too many powerful consoles can't coexist. It's like having only ferocious dinosaurs. They might fight and hasten their own extinction."[21] Around this time, Nintendo began working with Gyration Inc., a firm that had developed several patents related to motion detection, to prototype future controllers using their licensed patents.[22]

Over the next two years, sales of the GameCube languished behind its competitors, Sony's PlayStation 2 and Microsoft's Xbox. Satoru Iwata, who had been promoted to Nintendo's president in May 2002 following Hiroshi Yamauchi's retirement,[23] recognized that Nintendo had not been keeping up with trends in the video game industry, such as adopting to online gaming. He also recognized that video gaming itself had become too exclusive and wanted Nintendo to pursue gaming hardware and software that would appeal to all ages.[24] Iwata had directed analysis of Nintendo's position in the market, which found that their focus on hardward-intensive solutions to be competitive had created consoles that were difficult for developers to create games for, further hampering Nintendo's position.[25] One of the first major steps Iwata had made based on the company's research was directing the development of the Nintendo DS, a handheld incorporating dual screens including a touchscreen, to revitalize their handheld console line.[26]

In 2003, Iwata met with Miyamoto and Genyo Takeda to discuss their next home console based on their market research. Iwata instructed Takeda "to go off the tech roadmap" for this console, but made sure that one goal was that "a Mom has to like it".[27] Nintendo's game engineers and designers were brought together to develop the concept further, with Takeda leading the console hardware components while Miyamoto took the lead on further developing a new type of controller based on Gyration's motion sensing technology.[22] Iwata had proposed that this new console use motion sensing to simplify the gaming interface to further make gaming appeal to all audiences.[28] An initial prototype was completed within six months.[29]

The Nintendo DS was said to have influenced the Wii's 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 because of the notion that the two gaming systems would be identical. Miyamoto also stated, "if the DS had flopped, we might have taken the Wii back to the drawing board."[21]

Announcements

Prior to E3 2004, Iwata had referred to Nintendo's upcoming console offering as the GameCube Next (GCNext or GCN).[30]

Iwata first unveiled some details of Nintendo's new home console at their press conference at E3 2004 under the codename "Revolution"; the codename was selected as "The next system will create a gaming revolution" according to Iwata.[24][31] The same press conference was the first public introduction of Reggie Fils-Aimé, recently hired as Nintendo of America's executive vice president for marketing. Fils-Aimé had led off the conference with his infamous speech "My name is Reggie. I'm about kicking ass. I'm about taking names. And we're about making games."[32] Alongside the announcement of the Revolution, Nintendo's E3 2004 conference included the reveal of the Nintendo DS and Resident Evil 4 for the GameCube, a dramatic change from Nintendo's past E3 presentations and leading to promise in Nintendo's upcoming offerings. Fils-Aimé speech earned him the nickname the "Reggielution" inspired by the Revolution codename.[32]

The console, still named "Revolution", was formally presented to the public at the following E3 2005; in presenting the prototype version of the console, Iwata explained how the console would be a proverbial revolution for gamers, stating "We expect the Revolution will create entirely new genres to expand the definition of video games."[33] However, the motion controller interface had not yet been completed by this point, so was omitted from the E3 2005 showing; Miyamoto stated that the company "had some troubleshooting to do. So we decided not to reveal the controller and instead we displayed just the console."[21] Iwata, in their E3 conference, spoke to the controller as "It is the game experience that will most separate the Revolution from its competitors."[33]

Iwata later unveiled and demonstrated their current prototype of the Revolution controller at the Tokyo Game Show in September 2005. At this stage, the controller unit resembled the final Wii Remote device along with the separate Nunchuk attachment. Iwata demonstrated its motion sensing gameplay capabilities, and incorporated commentary from developers like Hideo Kojima and Yuji Horii who had tested the controller and believed people would be drawn in by it.[34][35]

The Wii and several of its peripherals on display at E3 2006

The console's name was formally announced as the Wii in April 2006, ahead of that year's E3 2006. Nintendo's spelling of "Wii" (with two lower-case "i" characters) is intended to resemble two people standing side-by-side (representing players gathering together) and to represent the Wii Remote and Nunchuk.[36] In the company's announcement, they stated that "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."[36]

The "Wii" name did create some criticism and mockery after it was revealed. Some video game developers and members of the press stated that they preferred "Revolution" over "Wii".[37] Forbes expressed a fear "that the name would convey a continued sense of 'kidiness' to the console."[38] 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.[39] Nintendo of America's Vice President of Corporate Affairs Perrin Kaplan defended the choice of "Wii" over "Revolution" and responded to critics of the name, stating "Live with it, sleep with it, eat with it, move along with it and hopefully they'll arrive at the same place."[40] Now president of Nintendo of America, Fils-Aimé acknowledged the initial reaction and explained "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."[41]

The Wii was made available for press demonstration at the E3 2006, alongside the unveiling of some of the planned launched titles at its press conference. Nintendo also confirmed its plans to release the console by the end of 2006.[42]

Launch

Wii launch queue in Hamburg

Nintendo announced the launch plans and prices for the Wii in September 2006, with the console to launch first in the United States on November 19, 2006 for US$249.99.[5] This made the system comparatively cheaper than the Xbox 360 (which was currently available in two models priced at US$299 and US$399) and the then-upcoming PlayStation 3 (also to be available in two models priced at US$499 and US$599). Further, Nintendo's first-party games for the Wii were set at an retail price of US$50, about US$10 less expensive than average games for Nintendo's competitors.[43] Iwata stated they were able to keep the game price lower since the Wii was not as focused on high-resolution graphics in comparison to the other consoles, thus keeping development costs lower, averaging about US$5 million per game compared to US$20 million required for developing on the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3.[44][45]

Other regional release dates and prices included Japan on December 2 for ¥25,000,[6] followed by Australasia on December 7 for A$399.95,[8] and was later launched on December 8 in the United Kingdom for GB£179.99 and for the majority of Europe for €249.99.[7] Nintendo stated at this time plans to have about 30 Wii games available by the end of 2006, and anticipated shipping over 4 million consoles before the end of the year.[43]

As part of its launch campaign, Nintendo promoted the Wii through a series of television advertisements in North America (directed by Academy Award winner Stephen Gaghan) and its Internet ads using the slogans "Wii would like to play" and "Experience a new way to play". The ads began November 15, 2006, and had a total budget of over US$200 million for the year.[46] The productions were Nintendo's first broad-based advertising strategy and included a two-minute video clip showing two Japanese businessmen politely introducing the Wii system to a range of demographics: urban apartment-dwellers, ranchers, grandparents, and parents with their children. The music in the ads was from the song "Kodo (Inside the Sun Remix)" by the Yoshida Brothers.[47] Nintendo has hoped to target a wider demographic with its console than that of others in the seventh generation.[48] In December 2006, Satoru Iwata stated "We're not thinking about fighting Sony, but about how many people we can get to play games. The thing we're thinking about most is not portable systems, consoles, and so forth, but that we want to get new people playing games.[49]

The Wii launch bundle included the console; a stand to allow the console to be placed vertically; a plastic stabilizer for the main stand. one Wii Remote, a Nunchuk attachment for the Remote, a Sensor Bar and a removable stand for the bar to mount on a television set, an external power adapter, and two AA batteries for the Wii Remote. The bundle included a composite AV cable with RCA connectors, and in appropriate regions such as in Europe, a SCART adapter was also included.[50] A copy of the game Wii Sports was included in most regional bundles.[51]

Busy inside a shop during the Wii launch in Hamburg

Europe and the United Kingdom experienced a widespread shortage of Wii units in many High Street and online stores, and was unable to fulfill all pre-orders at its release.[52] In the United Kingdom, gamers lined up at the midnight launch of the console at Game and HMV. Queues from both retail stores stretched into back alleyways and side streets. Game even provided them with slices of pizza and Wii branded umbrellas. HMV, meanwhile, handed out goodie bags containing Wii-branded T-shirts and The Legend of Zelda posters. Celebrities such as Pat Cash and Ian Wright appeared to promote the Wii.[citation needed]

On December 26, 2006, Nintendo announced that they would release its console in South Korea by the end of 2007. However, on October 28, 2007, plans for South Korea were changed as Satoru Iwata announced that the Wii would instead be launched in South Korea on April 26, 2008,[53] along with first details to release the Wii in China also in 2008, due to high demand for the Wii console.[54] The Wii was subsequently launched in Taiwan on July 12, 2008,[55] and Hong Kong on December 12, 2009.[56]

Initial consumer reaction to the Wii appears to have been positive, with commentators judging the launch to have been successful.[57]

Hardware

Stack of video-game consoles, of which the Wii is the smallest
The Wii (top) compared in size to the NGC, N64, North American SNES, and NES

In contrast to its past consoles, Nintendo designed the Wii from commercial off-the-shelf hardware components rather than seek out customized components, as they were not looking to outpace the computational performance of their competitors. This helped to reduce the cost of the Wii system to consumers.[45]

The console's CPU is an IBM PowerPC-based processed named Broadway with a clock frequency of 729 MHz.[58] Broadway was based on a 90 nm process compared to the 180 nm process used in the GameCube's CPU, Gekko, and was able to achieve a 20% reduction in power consumption.[59] The Wii's GPU is an ATI system on a chip named Hollywood that includes a core processor running at 243 MHz, 3 MB of texture memory, digital signal processors, and Input/output functions.[58] The GPU also included an additional 24 MB of 1T-SRAM and an additional 64 MB of 1T-SRAM on the motherboard to provide a total of 88 MB of memory for the console.[58] The motherboard includes a WiFi adapter supporting IEEE 802.11 b/g modes and a Bluetooth antenna which it uses to communicate with the Wii Remote and other controllers. A USB-based LAN adapter could be used to connect the Wii to a wired Ethernet network.

The Wii reads games from its front slot-loading optical media drive, which is capable of reading 12 cm Wii Optical Discs and 8 cm Nintendo GameCube Game Discs; the drive cannot read other common optical media such as DVD-Video, DVD-Audio or Compact Discs. Nintendo had planned on incorporating this feature into later revisions of the Wii but their schedule was delayed and ultimately passed on.[60][61] The outside of the drive can be illuminated by the console's software to show the status of the system, such as pulsing blue when the system is communicating with the WiiConnect24 service.[62][63]

The Wii includes 512 MB of internal flash memory for storing saved games and downloaded content from the Wii channels. Users could expand their storage for downloaded games and saved games, as well as provide photos and music that could be used with some games and Wii channels, through SD cards (and later SDHC cards) inserted into an external slot on the console located under a front panel. Later system updated added the ability to play games directly from the SD card.[64][65][66]

The rear of the console features the unit's video output and power connections along with two USB ports.[67] The top of the console, when placed vertically, includes a panel that includes four ports for GameCube controllers and a GameCube memory card.

The Wii was Nintendo's smallest home console at the time (the current smallest is hybrid home-portable console Nintendo Switch, when in portable mode); 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, slightly larger than 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),[68] making it the lightest of the three major seventh-generation consoles. The Wii may stand horizontally or vertically. The prefix for the numbering scheme of the system and its parts and accessories is "RVL-" for its code name, "Revolution".[69]

Although Nintendo showed the console and the Wii Remote in white, black, silver, lime-green and red before it was released,[70] it was only available in white for its first two-and-a-half years of sales. Black consoles were available in Japan in August 2009,[71][72] in Europe in November 2009[73] and in North America on May 9, 2010.[74] A red Wii system bundle was available in Japan on November 11, 2010, commemorating the 25th anniversary of Super Mario Bros.[75] The European version of the limited-edition red Wii bundle was released on October 29, 2010, which includes the original Donkey Kong game preloaded onto the console, New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Wii Sports.[76][77] The bundle also features the Wii Remote Plus, with integrated Wii Motion Plus technology.[77] The red Wii bundle was released in North America on November 7, 2010 with New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Wii Sports, and the Wii Remote Plus.[78][79]

Revisions

RVL-101 layout with its labels aligned horizontally, just as the console was designed to be placed, unlike the original version

The RVL-101 model of the Wii is a cost-reduced variant released late into the platform's lifespan that removes all GameCube functionality, lacking the controller ports and memory card slots found on the original model. Additionally, it does not include a stand, as it is intended to be positioned horizontally. The console was announced on August 17, 2011 and was released in the United States on October 23, 2011 and Europe on November 4, 2011.[80][81][82] It was made available in Europe, bundled with a Wii Remote Plus, Wii Party, and Wii Sports.[80][83][84][85] The console launched in white, but later a black unit bundled with New Super Mario Bros. Wii and the official soundtrack CD of Super Mario Galaxy was released on October 23, 2011[86] and a blue Wii unit was released to coincide with Black Friday and the release of Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games on November 18, 2011.[87] In late 2012, Nintendo released a version of the North American black edition, including Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort games on a single disc instead of the New Super Mario Bros. Wii game and the Super Mario Galaxy soundtrack.[88]

A Wii Mini with Wii Remote

The RVL-201[89] model of the Wii, known as the Wii Mini (stylized as Wii mini), is a smaller, redesigned Wii with a top-loading disc drive. It was announced on November 27, 2012 and released on December 7, 2012 in Canada with a MSRP of C$99.99.[90] The system was later released in Europe on March 22, 2013,[4] and in the United States on November 17, 2013.[3] It was not released in Japan, Australia, or New Zealand. This console lacks YPBPR (component video/D-Terminal), S-Video, RGB SCART output, GameCube compatibility (like the RVL-101), online connectivity, Nintendo DS connectivity, the SD card slot, a reset button and Wi-Fi support, and has only one USB port unlike the previous models' two.[91][92] The initial release did not include a game, but Mario Kart Wii was included at no extra charge beginning on September 18, 2013 in Canada,[93] and from launch in the United States.[94] Nintendo used this console and the Nintendo Selects game series to promote low-cost gaming. The Wii Mini is styled in matte black with a red border, and includes a red Wii Remote Plus and Nunchuk. A composite video/audio cable, wired sensor bar and power adapter are also included.[95]

Specifications

Nintendo has released few technical details regarding the Wii system, but some key facts have leaked through the press. Although none of these reports has been officially confirmed, they generally indicate that the console is an extension (or advancement) of the Nintendo GameCube architecture. Specifically, the analyses report that the Wii is roughly 1.5 to 2 times as powerful as its predecessor.[96][97] Based on specifications, the Wii has been called the least powerful of the major home consoles of its generation.[98]

Wii Remote

The Wii Remote being used to play Metroid Prime 3 at E3 2006. The sensor bar can be seen at the base of the television screen.
Two types of Wii controllers, one in each hand
A Nunchuk, Wii Remote and strap shown in hand

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 in the Sensor Bar, which is placed either just above or below the television monitor.[112][113] This design allows users to operate the Wii software or a game using the Wii Remote as a pointing device like a computer mouse, or through gesture recognition, in additional to the traditional button and directional-pad controls on the remote. For example, the pack-in game Wii Sports includes a ten-pin bowling game that had the player hold the Wii Remote and perform a delivery of a ball; the Wii Remote could account for the player's position relative to the Sensor bar, and their arm and wrist rotation to apply speed and spin to the virtual ball's delivery on screen.[114]

The controller connects to the console using Bluetooth[115] with an approximate 30 ft (9.1 m) range,[116] and features rumble and an internal speaker.[117] An attachable wrist strap can be used to prevent the player from unintentionally dropping (or throwing) the Wii Remote. Nintendo has since offered a stronger strap and the Wii Remote Jacket to provide extra grip and protection.[118]

Accessories can be connected to a Wii Remote through a proprietary port at the base of the controller,[119] such as the bundled Nunchuk — a handheld unit with an accelerometer, analog stick, and two trigger buttons.[120]An expansion accessory known as Wii MotionPlus augments the Wii Remote's existing sensors with gyroscopes to allow for finer motion detection; the MotionPlus functionality was later incorporated into a revision of the controller known as Wii Remote Plus.[121][122][123] At E3 2009, Nintendo also presented a "Vitality Sensor" accessory that could be used to measure a player's pulse. In a 2013 Q&A, Satoru Iwata revealed that the Vitality Sensor had been shelved, as internal testing found that the device did not work with all users, and its use cases were too narrow.[124]

Other controllers and accessories

Wii Classic Controller

The Classic Controller is another extension for the Wii Remote and is more similar to classic gamepads. Players can use it with older games from the Virtual Console in addition to games designed for the Wii.

On July 11, 2007, Nintendo unveiled the Wii Balance Board at E3 2007 with Wii Fit.[125] It is a wireless balance board accessory for the Wii, with multiple pressure sensors used to measure the user's center of balance.[126] Namco Bandai produced a mat controller (a simpler, less-sophisticated competitor to the balance board).[127]

A number of first- and third-party accessories were developed that the Wii Remote could be slotted into and then used in a more physical manner that took advantage of the accelerometer and gyroscopic functions of the controller. Some copies of Mario Kart Wii shipped with the Wii Wheel, a plastic steering wheel frame with the Wii Remote could be inserted into, so that players could steer more effectively in game.[128] Rhythm games that used plastic instruments, such as Guitar Hero III, shipped with instruments that the Wii Remote could be slotted into; the remote powered the various buttons on the controller and relayed that to the Wii.[129]

Software

The console has a number of internal features made available from its hardware and firmware components. The hardware allows for extendability (via expansion ports), while the firmware (and some software) can receive periodic updates via the WiiConnect24 service.

Wii Menu

Screenshot of Wii Menu
Wii Menu channels screen

The Wii Menu interface consists of "channels" representing applications installed to the console, a design that emulates television channels. Separate channels are graphically displayed in a grid and are navigated using the pointer capability of the Wii Remote. There are six default channels: the Disc Channel, Mii Channel, Photo Channel, Wii Shop Channel, Forecast Channel, and News Channel, the latter two being initially unavailable at launch, but included later in updates. The Wii + Internet Video Channel was pre-installed on all Wii consoles starting in October 2008.[130] Additional channels were available for download from the Wii Shop Channel, such as the Everybody Votes Channel, Internet Channel, Check Mii Out Channel, Nintendo Channel, and various WiiWare and Virtual Console titles. Additionally, Japanese consoles had access to the Food Delivery Channel, a channel that facilitated the ordering of food directly from the console.[131][132]

Except for the Disc Channel, the arrangement of the channels can be changed by pointing at the channel to be moved with the Wii Remote and holding down the 'A' and 'B' buttons to do so, releasing the buttons once the channel is in the intended slot.[133]

Mii

The Wii introduced the use of player-customized avatars called Miis, which have been continued to be used by Nintendo in the Wii U, the Nintendo DS family, and into some games for the Nintendo Switch. Each player on a Wii console was encouraged to create their own Mii to be used in games like Wii Sports and some of the system software like the Mii Channel. For example, players would select their Mii in Wii Sports, creating their in-game avatar for the game. Miis could be shared with other players through the Mii Channel.[134]

Nintendo DS connectivity

The Wii system supports wireless connectivity with the Nintendo DS without any additional accessories. This connectivity allows the player to use the Nintendo DS microphone and touchscreen as inputs for Wii games. The first game utilizing Nintendo DS-Wii connectivity is Pokémon Battle Revolution. Players with either the Pokémon Diamond or Pearl Nintendo DS games are able to play battles using the Nintendo DS as a controller.[135] Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time, released on both Nintendo DS and Wii, features connectivity in which both games can advance simultaneously. Nintendo later released the Nintendo Channel, which allows Wii owners to download game demos or additional data to their Nintendo DS in a process similar to that of a DS Download Station.[136] The console is also able to expand Nintendo DS games.[135]

Online connectivity

The Wii console connects to the Internet through its built-in 802.11b/g Wi-Fi or through a USB-to-Ethernet adapter; either method allows players to access the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection service.[96] The service has several features for the console, including Virtual Console, WiiConnect24, the Internet Channel, the Forecast Channel, the Everybody Votes Channel, the News Channel and the Check Mii Out Channel. The Wii can also communicate (and connect) with other Wii systems through a self-generated wireless LAN, enabling local wireless multi-playing on different television sets. Battalion Wars 2 first demonstrated this feature for non-split screen multi-playing between two (or more) televisions.[137]

On April 9, 2008, the BBC announced that its online BBC iPlayer would be available on the Wii via the Internet Channel browser; however, some users experienced difficulty with the service. On November 18, 2009, BBC iPlayer on the Wii was launched as the BBC iPlayer Channel,[138][139] a free downloadable channel from the Wii Shop Channel;[140] however, the service was discontinued in early 2017.[141]

Netflix was released as a downloadable channel for the Wii on October 18, 2010 in Canada and the United States.[142] A survey conducted by Nielson revealed that 25% of Netflix subscribers used the Netflix Channel on the Wii as of July 2011.[143] Hulu announced in October 2011 that they would be releasing their streaming service, Hulu Plus, on the Wii and the Nintendo 3DS.[144] Hulu Plus was released on February 16, 2012 as a downloadable channel for the Wii.[145] YouTube was released as a downloadable channel for the Wii on December 15, 2012 in the United States.[146] The YouTube Channel for the Wii was discontinued on June 28, 2017 as part of YouTube's plan to phase out availability on older devices.[147] Prime Video, Amazon's streaming service, was released on January 14, 2013 as a downloadable channel for the Wii.[148][149] Crunchyroll, an anime streaming service, was released on October 15, 2015 as a downloadable channel for the Wii.[150]

In 2018, Netflix announced that Nintendo would shut down support for video streaming services on the Wii on January 30, 2019, including Netflix.[151]

Parental controls

The console features parental controls, which can be used to prohibit younger users from playing games with content unsuitable for their age level. When one attempts to play a Wii or Virtual Console game, it reads the content rating encoded in the game data; if this rating is greater than the system's set age level, the game will not load without a password. Parental controls may also restrict Internet access, which blocks the Internet Channel and system-update features. Since the console is restricted to GameCube functionality when playing GameCube Game Discs, GameCube software is unaffected by Wii parental-control settings.[152]

European units primarily use the PEGI rating system,[153] while North American units use the ESRB rating system.[154] The Wii supports the rating systems of many countries, including CERO in Japan, the USK in Germany, the PEGI and BBFC in the United Kingdom, the ACB in Australia and the OFLC in New Zealand. Homebrew developers have reverse-engineered the function which Nintendo uses to recover lost parental-control passwords, creating a simple script to obtain parental-control reset codes.[155]

Games

Wii disc in open case
Wii optical disc in case

Retail copies of games are supplied on proprietary, DVD-type Wii optical discs, which are packaged in keep cases with instructions. In Europe, the boxes have a triangle at the bottom corner of the paper sleeve-insert side. The triangle is color-coded to identify the region for which the title is intended and which manual languages are included. The console supports regional lockout: software available in a region can be only played on that region's hardware.[156]

New games in Nintendo's flagship franchises (including The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario, Pokémon, and Metroid) have been released, in addition to many original titles and third-party-developed games. Nintendo has received third-party support from companies such as Ubisoft, Sega, Square Enix, Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts, and Capcom, with more games being developed for Wii than for the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360.[157] Nintendo also launched the New Play Control! line, a selection of enhanced GameCube games for the Wii featuring updated controls.[158]

921.69 million Wii games had been sold worldwide as of March 31, 2020,[159] and 104 titles had surpassed the million-unit mark by March 2011. The most successful game (Wii Sports, which comes bundled with the console in most regions) sold 82.90 million copies worldwide by March 31, 2020,[160] surpassing Super Mario Bros. as the best-selling video game of all time in 2009.[161] However, as of May 2019, Minecraft is the best selling video game of all time, having sold 176 million copies.[162] The best-selling unbundled game, Mario Kart Wii, had sold 37.32 million units worldwide by March 31, 2020.[160]

Launch titles

Wii Sports was included with the Wii console bundle in all regions except Japan and South Korea.[163]

Twenty-one games were announced for launch day in North and South America, with another twelve announced for release later in 2006.[164]

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption was promoted as a launch title, but its release was eventually postponed until August 27, 2007, in North America.[173] Satoru Iwata also initially wished for Super Smash Bros. Brawl to be released at launch.

  1. ^ Wii Sports came bundled with the Wii in all territories except Japan and South Korea.

Backward compatibility

Wii console with black GameCube controller
The first model of the Wii has Nintendo GameCube Memory Card and controller slots to provide backward compatibility.

The original launch Wii consoles are backward-compatible with all Nintendo GameCube software, Nintendo GameCube Memory Cards and controllers. Software compatibility is achieved by the slot-loading drive's ability to accept Nintendo GameCube Game Discs. A Wii console running a GameCube disc is restricted to GameCube functionality, and a GameCube controller is required to play GameCube titles. A Nintendo GameCube Memory Card is also necessary to save game progress and content, since the Wii internal flash memory will not save GameCube games.[174] Also, backward compatibility is limited in some areas. For example, online and LAN-enabled features for Nintendo GameCube titles are unavailable on the Wii, since the console lacks serial ports for the Nintendo GameCube Broadband Adapter and Modem Adapter.[175]

RVL-101 and the RVL-201 (Wii Mini) lack the GameCube backward compatibility features.[80][91]

Virtual Console

The Virtual Console service allows Wii owners to play games originally released for the Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo 64, Sega's Genesis/Mega Drive and Sega Mark III/Sega Master System,[176] NEC's TurboGrafx-16/PC Engine, SNK's Neo Geo console, Commodore 64 and arcade games. Virtual Console games were distributed over broadband Internet via the former 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) or from an SD card via the SD Card Menu.[177][178] There is also the Wii Homebrew Channel, which can be installed by exploiting the Wii, allowing the user to run unauthorized applications built from user-generated code.[178]

WiiWare

WiiWare was Nintendo's foray into digital distribution on the Wii, comparable to the existing Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network. The service allowed players to purchase games digitally through the Wii Shop, downloading the games to their local memory cards to be run from them. Besides facilitating this form of distribution, WiiWare was also envisioned to help support smaller and independent game developers. offering these teams a less expensive route to produce Wii games without having to go through retail production and distribution channels.[179][180] The WiiWare channel launched on March 25, 2008, and remained active including through the Wii U's lifetime until the Wii Shop was discontinued in 2019.[181][182]

Reception

The Wii has received generally positive reviews. The system was well received after its exhibition at E3 2006. At the event, Nintendo's console won the Game Critics Awards for Best of Show and Best Hardware.[183] In the December 2006 issue of Popular Science, the console was named a Grand Award Winner in home entertainment.[184] Spike TV's Video Games Award cited the Wii's breakthrough technology.[185] GameSpot chose the console as having the best hardware in its "Best and Worst 2006" awards.[186] The system was also chosen as one of PC World magazine's 20 Most Innovative Products of the Year.[187] The console received a Golden Joystick for Innovation of the Year 2007 at the Golden Joystick Awards.[188] In the category of Engineering & Technology for Creation and Implementation of Video Games and Platforms, Nintendo was awarded an Emmy Award for Game Controller Innovation by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.[189] In 2009, IGN named the Wii the 10th greatest console of all time (out of 25).[190]

The Wii's success caught third-party developers by surprise, leading to apologies 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 made a mistake in rushing out their launch titles, promising to take future projects more seriously.[191] Take-Two Interactive, which released few games for the GameCube, changed its stance towards Nintendo by placing a higher priority on the Wii.[192]

At the same time, criticism of the Wii Remote and Wii hardware specifications had surfaced. Former GameSpot editor and Giantbomb.com founder Jeff Gerstmann stated that the controller's speaker produces low-quality sound,[193] while Factor 5 President Julian Eggebrecht criticized the hardware audio as substandard for a console of its generation.[194] UK-based developer Free Radical Design stated that the Wii hardware lacks the power necessary to run the software it scheduled for release on other seventh-generation consoles.[195] Online connectivity of the Wii was also criticized; Matt Casamassina of IGN compared it to the "entirely unintuitive" service provided for the Nintendo DS.[196]

Game designer and The Sims creator Will Wright shared his thoughts on the Wii in the context of the seventh 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."[197]

The Wii is seen as more physically demanding than other game consoles.[198] Some Wii players have experienced a form of tennis elbow, known as "Wiiitis".[199] A study published in the British Medical Journal stated that Wii players use more energy than they do playing sedentary computer games. While this energy increase may be beneficial to weight management, it was not an adequate replacement for regular exercise.[200] A case study published in the American Physical Therapy Association's journal, Physical Therapy, focused on use of the Wii for rehabilitation in a teenager with cerebral palsy. It is believed to be the first published research demonstrating physical-therapy benefits from use of the gaming system. Researchers say the system complements traditional techniques through use of simultaneous gaming rehabilitation efforts.[201] In May 2010, the American Heart Association (AHA) endorsed the Wii to encourage sedentary people to take the first step toward fitness. The AHA heart icon covers the console and two of its more-active games, Wii Fit Plus and Wii Sports Resort.[202][203]

By 2008, two years after the Wii's release,[204] Nintendo acknowledged several limitations and challenges with the system (such as the perception that the system catered primarily to a "casual" audience[205] and was unpopular among "core" gamers).[206] Game designer Shigeru Miyamoto admitted that the lack of support for high definition video output on the Wii and its limited network infrastructure also contributed to the system being regarded separately from its competitors' systems, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.[207] Miyamoto originally defended Nintendo's decision to not include HD graphics in the Wii, stating that the number of HDTV's in people's homes at the time was "really not that high, yet. Of course I think five years down the road it would be pretty much a given that Nintendo would create an HD system, but right now the predominant television set in the world is a non-HD set."[208] Miyamoto said in an interview with Japanese magazine 4Gamer in 2013 that he regretted not giving the Wii HD graphics.[209][210]

An executive for Frontline Studios stated that major publishers were wary of releasing exclusive titles for the Wii, due to the perception that third-party companies were not strongly supported by consumers.[211] 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."[212] The Globe and Mail and Forbes noted that the Wii had few successful third-party titles compared to its rivals (due, in part, to its weaker hardware). Third-party developers often skipped the Wii instead of making games for all three consoles simultaneously ("blockbusters like the Call of Duty franchise either never arrive on Nintendo hardware or show up in neutered form"). Forbes observed that of the most successful games of 2011 (The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Mass Effect 3, Portal 2, L.A. Noire, Battlefield 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3), although all were released for PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3, only Modern Warfare 3 received a Wii version which was also the least positively received port of the game. The lack of third-party games may be exacerbated in the future, as Nintendo faces the "dilemma of having fallen out of sync with its rivals in the console cycle"; Microsoft and Sony would design their consoles to be more powerful than the Wii U. Strong third-party titles are seen as a key sign of a gaming console's health.[213][214][215]

The Globe and Mail, in suggesting why Nintendo posted a record loss of $926 million for the initial six months of its 2011–2012 fiscal year, blamed the Wii's design for being "short-sighted". The Wii initially enjoyed phenomenal success because it was inexpensive (due to its being less sophisticated than its competitors) and introduced a "gaming gimmick". However, this approach meant that the Wii's hardware soon became outdated and could not keep up long-term (in contrast to more-advanced rivals such as Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, which were expected to continue doing well in 2012–2013) "as both user desires and surrounding technologies evolved" later in the generation. Furthermore, price cuts and the introduction of motion-sensor controllers for the Xbox 360 and PS3 nullified advantages once held by the Wii. The Globe suggested that there were other reasons for Nintendo's poor financial performance, including a strong yen and a tepid reception to the Nintendo 3DS handheld as mobile gaming became popular on smartphones and tablets, such as the iPad.[213]

Nintendo had positioned the Wii as part of a "blue ocean" strategy to differ itself from its competitors Sony and Microsoft for the next several years.[216] The Wii has since become seen as a prime example of an effective blue ocean approach. While Sony and Microsoft continued to innovate their consoles on hardware improvements to provide more computational and graphics power, Nintendo put more effort towards developing hardware that facilitated new ways to play games. This was considered a key part to the success of the console, measured by sales over its competitors during that console generation.[217][218] However, Nintendo did not maintain this same "blue ocean" approach when it took towards designing the Wii U, by which point both Sony and Microsoft had caught up with similar features from the Wii. These factors partially contributed towards weak sales of the Wii U.[218]

Sales

The Wii sold out at an HMV in Oxford Street

As of September 30, 2019, the Wii has sold 101.63 million consoles worldwide.[219]

Since its launch, monthly sales numbers of the console were generally higher than its competitors around the globe. On November 28, 2006, Nintendo reported that it had sold over 600,000 consoles in the first eight days of launch in the Americas, making it Nintendo's largest console launch until the release of the Nintendo Switch in 2017.[220][221] Including the sales of accessories and games, Nintendo's Wii-related revenue had hit $190 million in its first week.[220] Japan initially received 400,000 Wii consoles,[222] and sold an estimated 372,000 units in two days, with Wii Sports and Wii Play being the best-selling games.[223] While many PlayStation 3 consoles were resold on online auctions for a much higher price, the average Wii price on Yahoo! Auctions were only 30,000 ¥ (USD: $260).[224] This is perhaps because more people wanted to use the consoles, rather than resell them, as the Wii software tie ratio was 1.69.[225] Nintendo announced on December 13, 2006 that the Wii had sold 325,000 units across Europe in its first two days of availability and had sold 33,000 units in Australia in its first six days of availability, making it the fastest selling console across the entire European continent and the largest launch of a video game system in Australia.[226][227] By the end of 2006, the Wii had sold 3.19 million units worldwide.[228]

According to the NPD Group, the Wii sold more units in the United States than the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 combined in the first half of 2007.[229] This lead was even larger in the Japanese market, where it led in total sales (having outsold both consoles by factors of 2:1[230] to 6:1[231] nearly every week from its launch to November 2007).[232] In Australia the Wii broke the record set by the Xbox 360 and became the fastest-selling game console in Australian history, selling 32,901 units within the first four days of the console's release.[233] It also broke the 360's Australian record for the quickest amount of time to sell 100,000 units, reaching the milestone within six months and two weeks.[234] The Wii became the fastest selling console in the United Kingdom at the time, selling 1 million units in just 38 weeks after launch.[235]

On September 12, 2007, the Financial Times reported that the Wii had surpassed the Xbox 360 (released a year earlier) and had become market leader in home-console sales for the seventh generation, based on sales figures from Enterbrain, NPD Group and GfK. This was the first time a Nintendo console led its generation in sales since the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.[236]

On July 11, 2007, Nintendo warned that the Wii would remain in short supply throughout that calendar year.[237] In December, Reggie Fils-Aimé revealed that Nintendo was producing approximately 1.8 million Wii consoles each month.[238] Some UK stores still had a shortage of consoles in March 2007,[239] demand still outpaced supply in the United States in June 2007,[240] and the console was "selling out almost as quickly as it hits retail shelves" in Canada in April 2008.[241][242] In Singapore, local distributor Maxsoft said that 2,000 consoles were sold in the first two days of retail, much greater than for the launches of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and that many preorders remained unfulfilled due to a low stock inventory.[243] In October 2008 Nintendo announced that between October and December the Wii would have its North American supplies increased considerably from 2007 levels,[244] while producing 2.4 million Wii units a month worldwide (compared to 1.6 million per month in 2007).[245]

In the United States the Wii had sold 10.9 million units by July 1, 2008, making it the leader in seventh generation home console sales according to the NPD Group (and surpassing the Xbox 360).[246][247][248]

In Japan, the Wii surpassed the number of GameCube units sold by January 2008;[249] it sold 7,526,821 units by December 2008, according to Enterbrain.[250][251] 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 previous 17 months.[241][242] According to the NPD Group the Wii had sold a total of 1,060,000 units in Canada by August 2008, making it the first seventh generation home console to surpass the million-unit mark in that country. In the United Kingdom the Wii lead in seventh generation home-console sales with 4.9 million units sold as of January 3, 2009, according to GfK Chart-Track.[252][253] On March 25, 2009 at the Game Developers Conference, Satoru Iwata said that worldwide shipments of Wii had reached 50 million.[254] According to GfK Australia, the Wii had sold over 500,000 units in Australia within 84 weeks of its release, beating the PlayStation 2 and the DS as the fastest system to accumulate 500,000 sales in that country.[255]

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.[256] On September 17, 2007, the Financial Times reported that the direct profit per Wii sold may vary, from $13 in Japan to $49 in the United States and $79 in Europe.[257] On December 2, 2008, Forbes reported that Nintendo made a $6 operating profit per Wii unit sold.[258]

On September 23, 2009, Nintendo announced its first price reductions for the console.[259] Nintendo sold more than three million Wii consoles in the U.S. in December 2009 (setting a regional record for the month and ending nine months of declining sales), due to the price cut and software releases such as New Super Mario Bros. Wii.[260][261] On January 31, 2010 the Wii became the best-selling home video-game console produced by Nintendo, with sales of over 67 million units (surpassing those of the original Nintendo Entertainment System).[262]

In 2010, sales of the Wii began to decline, falling by 21 percent from the previous year.[263] The Wii continued to decline in 2011, with Nintendo's quarterly revenue dropping by 41 percent.[264] Despite a slowdown in sales, Nintendo reported that on Black Friday in 2011, over 500,000 Wii consoles were sold, making it the most successful Black Friday in the Wii's history.[265] Wii sales declined even further in 2012, having decreased by half from 2011.[266] The Wii Mini sold 35,700 units in its first two months of availability in Canada after being released on December 7, 2012.[267][268]

The Wii surpassed 100 million units sold on June 30, 2013, selling 210,000 units between March and June 2013.[269]

Legal issues

Nintendo saw a number of legal challenges stemming from the Wii and Wii Remote. Several of these were patent-related challenges from companies claiming the Wii Remote infringed on their patents. Most of these were either dismissed or settled out of court. One of the more notable challenges was from iLife Technologies Inc. who had sued Nintendo and other companies that had followed with motion detection controllers and devices for patent infringement in 2013. iLife had saught and initially won a US$10.1 million judgement against Nintendo for their past sales of both the Wii and Wii U. However the case was overturned on appeal, with the appellate court ruling that iLife's patents were too broad to cover the specific motion detection technologies developed by Nintendo.[270]

There have also been lawsuits against Nintendo for physical damage done by Wii Remote when they have slipped out of players' hands on grounds that the wrist straps were ineffective, often breaking television screens or windows when this occurred.[271] The first class action suit filed in December 2006 led Nintendo to issue a product recall for the existing wrist straps and send out new versions that had an improved securing mechanism for the wrist. Because of Nintendo's recall, the lawsuit was dropped sometime thereafter.[272][273] A second class action lawsuit was filed by a mother in Colorado in December 2008, claiming the updated wrist straps were still ineffective.[274] This suit was dismissed by September 2010, finding for Nintendo that the wrist straps were not knowingly faulty under Colorado consumer protection laws.[275]

Successor and discontinuation

The Wii U, with its Gamepad in front

Nintendo announced the successor to the Wii, Wii U, at E3 2011.[276][277] Nintendo had recognized that the Wii had generally been shunned by the core gaming audience as it was perceived more as a casual gaming experience. The Wii U was aimed to draw the core audience back in with more advanced features atop the basic Wii technology.[278][279] The Wii U features the Wii U Gamepad, a controller with an embedded touch screen and output 1080p high-definition graphics that serves as a secondary screen alongside the television. The Wii U is fully backward-compatible with Wii games and peripherals for the Wii. The Wii remote, Nunchuk controller and balance board are compatible with Wii U games which include support for them.[280] The Wii U was released on November 18, 2012 in North America, November 30, 2012 in Europe, Australia and New Zealand, December 8, 2012 in Japan[281] and November 26, 2013 in Brazil.[282]

Nintendo continued to sell the Wii alongside the Wii U during the Wii U's first release year. During 2013, Nintendo began to sunset certain Wii online functions as they pushed consumers towards the Wii U as a replacement system or towards the offline Wii Mini, though the Wii eShop remained available.[283] Nintendo discontinued production of the Wii in October 2013 after selling over 100 million units worldwide,[284] though the company continued to product the Wii Mini unit primarily for the North American market.[285] Support for online multiplayer games were discontinued in May 2014,[286] while the Wii Shop was closed in January 2019, effectively ending all online services for the console.[182] The Wii Mini continued to be manufactured and sold until 2017.[citation needed]

Despite the discontinuation of the console, some developers continued to make games for the Wii well beyond 2013. Notably, Ubisoft had continued to support the Wii in its Just Dance series through Just Dance 2020 released in November 2019 though stated it would be their final Wii title for the series.[287] Vblank Entertainment's Shakedown: Hawaii is currently the final game to be released for the system in June 2020, more than 13 years after the Wii's launch.[288]

Homebrew and emulation

The Wii has become a popular target for homebrewing new functionality and video games since its discontinuation, though this practice is of questionable legality. For example, homebrew projects have been able to add DVD playback to unmodified Wii consoles.[289] The Wii also can be hacked to enable an owner to use the console for activities unintended by the manufacturer.[290][291] Several brands of modchips are available for the Wii.[292]

The Wii has also been a popular system for emulation; while the act of creating such emulators in a cleanroom-type approach have been determined to be legal, the actions of bringing the Wii system software and games to other systems has been of questionable legality and Nintendo has actively pursued legal action against those that distribute copies of their software. The open-source Dolphin project has been able to successfully emulate the Wii and GameCube games through several years of cleanroom efforts.[293]

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