What the hell is Wii U? - Is Nintendo's new console just too confusing?

by Ben Salter 14 Comments 10 Likes 2,929 Views 25/03/2013 Back to Wii U articles Wii U

Nintendo is handing out simplified comparison charts at PAX East this week, clearly showing why the Wii U is a worthy improvement over your crummy old Wii.

Is it really just too confusing for the wider public? Would the Wii U have sold stronger numbers if it were called Wii 2?

Oh sweet, the new Wii controller!

This isn’t the first time this inherent marketing cock-up has been raised. It seemed pretty obvious at launch, but I also thought ‘3DS’ was a mistake. It seemed too similar to DS Lite and DSi, but after a slow start, the market eventually flocked towards it.

Is it really just too confusing for the wider public? Would the Wii U have sold stronger numbers if it were called Wii 2?

However, Wii U seems to have made the same mistake on a grander scale. The non-gamer mums and dads and grandmas and grandpas that made Nintendo billions of dollars won’t understand that Wii U is something different. What the hell is a U? An iPad-esque controller for Wii would be a reasonable assumption after looking at the promotional images. $430 is a lot for a new controller.

Honestly, if you saw a Wii U TV ad with no prior knowledge of its existence, what would you think it was? Not a new console, that’s for sure.

The confusion is compounded by the rehashed old games. There is a huge market between the casual Wii Sports player and those looking for BioShock Infinite a day early. Those in the mid-ground might see Batman and Need for Speed: Most Wanted being advertised and associate it with the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, which are likely to be replaced this year.

It makes the Wii U look like a slight upgrade akin to the DSi, rather than a fully-fledged new console. It certainly doesn't appear to be next generation.

This is the first time I’ve seen Nintendo really acknowledge there is a problem; a big problem. Hell, even after looking at that poster, I don’t know why people should upgrade.

Umm, you can use it as a handheld and, err, umm it’s high definition!

That’s hardly selling it. The second biggest feature is “plays Wii games”, but you know what else does that? I’ll give you a hint: it can also play NES, SNES and Nintendo 64 games via the Virtual Console and GameCube games. Wii U can do...none of that.

”Plays Wii U” games is hardly a selling point -- my Xbox 360 played most of them over a year ago -- and I’ve never once used Wii U Chat or spent hours browsing the Miiverse. And what the hell is a Wii U accessory? Apparently Wii U can use those, but I’ve not yet seen one...

This thing is doing as good a job of selling itself as Google Wave. I’m not surprised awareness for the Wii U is disturbingly low. Even Nintendo’s clearcut list points to sticking with the Wii.

We shouldn’t discount the absolutely no new games to play factor. Of my regular gaming friends, most of them know of the Wii U, but haven’t been inclined to take the plunge (or even really try one) because they’d only buy it for the big Nintendo games, of which there are currently none. Maybe they’ll look at buying one when the next 3D Mario or new Zelda adventure is released, but until then, they won’t bother.

Yes, Nintendo needs to get some games on its console. But first it needs to figure out a much better way of explaining what it is....

By Ben Salter

If you didn’t regularly visit games websites, would you understand what the Wii U is?

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What the hell is Wii U? - Is Nintendo's new console just too confusing? Comments

  • Tano 363562 XP 25/03/2013
    Maybe it'll work in their favour in attracting hardcore players appealed by the fact the Wii U market won't be fractured by casual gamers and mums wanting to play fitness games, therefore attracting third-party publishers and better games.

    Or maybe people are dumb and it's too confusing.
  • Gryllis 371665 XP 25/03/2013
    Yeah maybe, but I'm not sure that audience is happy with the tech compared to the PS4/new Xbox.

    That just leaves the hardcore Nintendo fans. A lot of them are waiting for a big Nintendo game.
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  • Tano 363562 XP 25/03/2013
    Kid Icarus? :P
  • Marge 24871 XP 25/03/2013 +1
    The "Wii U" is my least favourite console name of all time. Xbox 720(if that's what they call it) will come close to being as terrible but "Wii U" is just a confusing unappealing crap of a name. If you look at the way they marketed it, focussing heavily on the Wiimote almost making it seem like a necessity, the Wii U does just appear to be an extra controller. Even the console itself just looks like a curvier Wii.

    Nintendo definitely went overboard when they were trying to ride the success of the Wii.
  • renagadez 86128 XP 25/03/2013
    It is very confusing for the general public.
  • barters81 8615 XP 25/03/2013
    As in the ported 3DS version of the game? No thanks, played it already.
  • barters81 8615 XP 25/03/2013
    Crazy name, crazy (non) advertising......crazy CEO?

    I shudder to think it, but has Iwata lost the plot? Or is there some grand master plan about to unravel and open up the mysteries of the gaming universe?
  • chucky110 36928 XP 25/03/2013
    No it's not confusing, maybe only to those who don't know what a game console is

    They won't call it 720, though they should of put some effort into the name of the Wii U
  • 1wiierdguy 9880 XP 25/03/2013
    With 100+ million consoles sold I can see why Nintendo wanted to keep the Wii brand.
  • chucky110 36928 XP 25/03/2013
    People knew PS2 was different to PS1 and PS3 was different to PS2. Why is it so difficult to know Wii U is different to Wii
  • Pilkingbod 101515 XP 25/03/2013
    Because the PS1, PS2, etc... was marketed towards gamers.
    The Wii wasn't. It was marketed towards a much broader audience, whose concepts of console generations would be completely foreign.

    See Wii Fit and Wii Fit +, or whatever it's called. There's no reason to think that the Wii U is just a Wii with a few added extras, based on that.
  • chucky110 36928 XP 25/03/2013
    Pretty sure parents still would of bought it for their kids at christmas and asked the people at the store for info like they can do now with the wii u
  • SilentOne 11288 XP 26/03/2013
    I'm enjoying my WiiU just for the Wii games :L
    I barely touch the WiiU games i have atm..
    But when good WiiU games come out i'm gonna be jumping over people just to play them :L
  • TrblyXlent 10903 XP 28/03/2013

    The article said: Would the Wii U have sold stronger numbers if it were called Wii 2?

    Yes, definitely. Originally, I thought it was going to be called the Wii 2, looking forward to seeing what it would be like. When I found out it was going to be one of the transitions (like the PS2 to the PSP - or something like that) I lost my excitement. Just another portable version of a console - not one with many, many new features etc.

    Random comment ^ :P
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