The Wii (// 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.
Original white Wii standing upright on its stand next to a Wii Remote
|Also known as|
|Type||Home video game console|
|Units shipped||101.63 million (as of September 30, 2019[update]) (details)|
|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|
|Graphics||ATI Hollywood @ 243 MHz|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11 b/g|
2 × USB 2.0
LAN Adapter (via USB 2.0)
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: a revised model that shared the same design as the original Wii but removed the GameCube compatibility features, and the Wii Mini that was a compact, budget redesign of the Wii 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.
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." The company had seen what games like Dance Dance Revolution had done with unique controller approaches, according to Miyomoto. 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.
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, 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. 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. 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.
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"; part of this was not only to draw in non-casual players but to also towards designing a console that would be capable of playing any past Nintendo game which would reduce the number of consoles that one would need to have connected and eliminate clutter. 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. Iwata had proposed that this new console use motion sensing to simplify the gaming interface to further make gaming appeal to all audiences. An initial prototype was completed within six months.
The Nintendo DS was said to have influenced the Wii's design, as the company found that the DS's novel two-screen interface had drawn in non-traditional players and wanted to replicate that on the new console. 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."
Prior to E3 2004, Iwata had referred to Nintendo's upcoming console offering as the GameCube Next (GCNext or GCN).
Iwata first unveiled some details of Nintendo's new home console at their press conference at E3 2004 under the codename "Revolution", as Iwata believed the console would @create a gaming revolution". The same press conference was the first public speech given by Reggie Fils-Aimé after his hiring as Nintendo of America's executive vice president for marketing. Fils-Aimé began the conference by saying: "My name is Reggie. I'm about kicking ass. I'm about taking names. And we're about making games." Alongside the announcement of the console's development, 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.
The console, still named "Revolution", was formally presented to the public at 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." 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." Iwata, in their E3 conference, said the controller would "most separate the Revolution from its competitors."
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, such as Hideo Kojima and Yuji Horii, who had tested the controller and believed people would be drawn in by it.
The console's name was formally announced as the Wii in April 2006, a month prior to E3 2006. Nintendo's spelling of "Wii" (with two lower-case "i" characters) was intended to represent both two people standing side-by-side (representing players gathering together) and also the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. 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."
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". Forbes expressed a 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 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." 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."
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.
Nintendo announced the launch plans and prices for the Wii in September 2006. The console was first launched in the United States on November 19, 2006 for US$249.99. Other regional release dates and prices included Japan on December 2 for ¥25,000, followed by Australasia on December 7 for A$399.95, and was later launched on December 8 in the United Kingdom for GB£179.99 and for the majority of Europe for €249.99. 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.
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 in November 2006 and had a total budget of over $200 million for the year. 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. Nintendo has hoped to target a wider demographic with its console than that of others in the seventh generation. 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.
The Wii had its launch in other Asian regions in the following years. It was released in South Korea on April 26, 2008, The Wii was launched in Taiwan on July 12, 2008, and Hong Kong on December 12, 2009. Nintendo had planned work with its partner iQue to release the Wii in China sometime in 2008, but failed to clear all the requirements to get around the ban on foreign-made consoles that the Chinese government had put in place.
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.
The console's CPU is an IBM PowerPC-based processed named Broadway with a clock frequency of 729 MHz. 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. 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. 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. The Wii's computational power was roughly 1.5 to 2 times as powerful as the GameCube, but was considered the least powerful of the major home consoles of its generation.
The Wii's 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. 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.
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.
The rear of the console features the unit's video output and power connections along with two USB ports. 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), 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".
The Wii Remote[h] is the primary controller for the console. The remote contains a MEMS-based three-dimension accelerometer, along with infrared detection sensors located at the far end of the controller. The accelerometers allow the Wii Remote to recognize its orientation after being moved from a resting position, translating that motion into gesture recognition for a game. 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. The infrared detectors are used to track emissions from LEDs in the included Sensor Bar, which is placed just above or below the television display, as to track the relative orientation of the Wii Remote towards the screen. This gives the Wii Remote the ability to act as a pointing device like a computer mouse on the television screen, with an approximate 15 feet (4.6 m) range for accurate detection. In addition, the Wii Remote features traditional controller inputs, including a directional pad (d-pad), three face action buttons and a shoulder trigger, and four system-related buttons include a power switch. The Wii Remote connects to the Wii through Bluetooth with an approximate 30 feet (9.1 m) range, communicating the sensor and control information to the console unit. The Wii Remote includes an internal speaker and a rumble pack that can be triggered by a game to provide feedback directly to the player's hand. Up to four Wii Remotes could connect wirelessly to a Wii, with LED lights on each remote indicating which controller number the Remote had connected as. The remote is battery-operated, and when the Remote is not powered on, these LED lights can display the remaining battery power.
A wrist-mounted strap is included with the Wii Remote, with one end affixed to the bottom of the unit. Nintendo strongly encouraged players to use the strap in case the Wii Remote accidentally slipped out of their hands. Nintendo recalled the original straps in December 2006 and provided a free, stronger strap as a replacement, as well as packaging the new strap in future bundles after the company faced legal challenges from users that reported damage to their homes from the Wii Remote slipping from their hands while playing. In October 2007, Nintendo also added a silicon-based Wii Remote Jacket to shipments of the Wii and Wii Remote, as well as a free offering for existing users. The Jacket wraps around the bulk of the remote but leaves access to the various buttons and connectors, providing a stickier surface in the user's grip to further reduce the chance of the Remote falling out of the player's hand.
Accessories can be connected to a Wii Remote through a proprietary port at the base of the controller. The Wii shipped with the bundled Nunchuk—a handheld unit with an accelerometer, analog stick, and two trigger buttons—which connected to this port on the Wii Remote via a 4 feet (1.2 m) cable. Players hold both the Wii Remote and Nunchuck in separate hands to control supported games.
The Wii MotionPlus accessory plugs into the port at the base of the Wii Remote and augments the existing sensors with gyroscopes to allow for finer motion detection. The MotionPlus accessory was released in June 2009 with a number of new games directly supporting this new functionality, including Wii Sports Resort which including the accessory as part of a bundle. The MotionPlus functionality was later incorporated into a revision of the controller called the Wii Remote Plus, first released in October 2010.
A number of third-party controller manufacturers developed their own lower-cost versions of the Wii Remote, though these generally were less accurate or lacked the sensitivity that Nintendo's unit had.
Other controllers and accessories
The Classic Controller is an extension for the Wii Remote, released alongside the Wii in November 2006. Its form factor is similar to classic gamepads such as that for the Nintendo 64, with a d-pad, four face buttons, Start and Select buttons alongside the Wii connection button, and two shoulder buttons. Players can use it with older games from the Virtual Console in addition to games designed for the Wii. In 2009, Nintendo released the Wii Classic Controller Pro, which was modelled after the GameCube's form factor and included two analog sticks.
The Wii Balance Board was released alongside Wii Fit in December 2007. It is a wireless balance board accessory for the Wii, with multiple pressure sensors used to measure the user's center of balance. Wii Fit offers a number of different exercise modes which monitored the player's position on the board, as well as exercise gamification, as to encourage players to exercise daily. In addition to use in Nintendo's Wii Fit Plus that expanded the range of exercises using the Wii Balance Board, the accessory can be used in other third-party games that translated the player's balance on the unit into in-game controls such as Shaun White Snowboarding and Skate It. Namco Bandai produced a mat controller (a simpler, less-sophisticated competitor to the balance board).
One of Iwata's initiatives at Nintendo was focused on "quality of life" products, those that encouraged players to do other activities beyond simply sitting and playing video games as to promote physical wellbeing. The use of motion controls in the Wii served part of this, but Nintendo developed additional accessories to give awareness of one's health as a lead-in for the company to break into the health care field. At E3 2009, Nintendo had presented a "Vitality Sensor" accessory that would be used to measure a player's pulse as a lead-in to a larger quality of life initiative, but this product was never released. 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. Despite this, Nintendo has continued Iwata's quality of life program with further products on later consoles and games.
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. 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.
Variants and bundles
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. A copy of the game Wii Sports was included in most regional bundles.
Although Nintendo showed the console and the Wii Remote in white, black, silver, lime-green and red before it was released, 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, in Europe in November 2009 and in North America on May 9, 2010. A red Wii system bundle was available in Japan on November 11, 2010, commemorating the 25th anniversary of Super Mario Bros. 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. The bundle also features the Wii Remote Plus, with integrated Wii Motion Plus technology. 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.
A cost-reduced variant of the Wii (model RVL-101), sometimes referred to as the Family Edition as the name given to bundles it was featured in, was released late into the platform's lifespan that removed all GameCube functionality, including the GameCube 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. It was made available in Europe, bundled with a Wii Remote Plus, Wii Party, and Wii Sports. 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 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. 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.
The Wii Mini (model RVL-201) is a smaller, redesigned Wii with a top-loading disc drive. 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. According to Nintendo of Canada's Matt Ryan, they stripped these features to bring the price of the console further as to make it an option for those consumers that had not yet gotten a Wii or for those who wanted a second Wii in a different location. Ryan stated that while removing the online functionality would prevent some games from being played, most Wii games could still be played without it.
The Wii Mini was first announced on November 27, 2012 and released on December 7, 2012 in Canada with a MSRP of CA$99.99. The system was later released in Europe on March 22, 2013, and in the United States on November 17, 2013. It was not released in Japan, Australia, or New Zealand. 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, and from launch in the United States. 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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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. 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. The console is also able to expand Nintendo DS games.
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. 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.
Third-party media apps were added to the Wii's online channels, typically offered as free downloads but requiring subscriber logins for paid services. Among some of these included the BBC iPlayer in November 2009, a free downloadable channel from the Wii Shop Channel; Netflix in November 2010, Hulu in February 2012, YouTube in December 2012, Prime Video in January 2013, and Crunchyroll in October 2015. Most services were discontinued by 2019 with the discontinuation of the Wii's online services.
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.
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.
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. Nintendo also launched the New Play Control! line, a selection of enhanced GameCube games for the Wii featuring updated controls.
Twenty-one games were announced for launch day in North and South America, with another twelve announced for release later in 2006.
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption was promoted as a launch title, but its release was eventually postponed until August 27, 2007, in North America. Satoru Iwata also initially wished for Super Smash Bros. Brawl to be released at launch.
- Wii Sports came bundled with the Wii in all territories except Japan and South Korea.
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. 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.
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, 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. 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.
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. 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.
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. In the December 2006 issue of Popular Science, the console was named a Grand Award Winner in home entertainment. Spike TV's Video Games Award cited the Wii's breakthrough technology. GameSpot chose the console as having the best hardware in its "Best and Worst 2006" awards. The system was also chosen as one of PC World magazine's 20 Most Innovative Products of the Year. The console received a Golden Joystick for Innovation of the Year 2007 at the Golden Joystick Awards. 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. In 2009, IGN named the Wii the 10th greatest console of all time (out of 25).
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. Take-Two Interactive, which released few games for the GameCube, changed its stance towards Nintendo by placing a higher priority on the Wii.
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, while Factor 5 President Julian Eggebrecht criticized the hardware audio as substandard for a console of its generation. 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. Online connectivity of the Wii was also criticized; Matt Casamassina of IGN compared it to the "entirely unintuitive" service provided for the Nintendo DS.
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."
The Wii is seen as more physically demanding than other game consoles. Some Wii players have experienced a form of tennis elbow, known as "Wiiitis". 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. 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. 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.
By 2008, two years after the Wii's release, Nintendo acknowledged several limitations and challenges with the system (such as the perception that the system catered primarily to a "casual" audience and was unpopular among "core" gamers). 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. 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." Miyamoto said in an interview with Japanese magazine 4Gamer in 2013 that he regretted not giving the Wii HD graphics.
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. 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."
See or edit raw graph data.
Initial consumer reaction to the Wii appears to have been positive, with commentators judging the launch to have been successful. The launch of the Wii in November 2006 was considered the largest console launch by Nintendo in the Americas, Japan, Europe and Australia. The console outsold combined sales of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in several regions in its launch period. The Wii remained in short supply through the first year. The company had already shipped nearly 3.2 million units worldwide by the end of 2006, and worked to raise production amounts to 17.5 million through 2007, but warned consumers that there would be shortages of the Wii through that year. Wii sales surpassed the Xbox 360 sales by September 2007. To meet further demand, Nintendo increased production rates of the Wii from 1.6 million to around 2.4 million units per month in 2008, planning to meet the continued demand for the console.
At the March 2009 Game Developers Conference, Satoru Iwata reported that the Wii had reached 50 million sales. On September 23, 2009, Nintendo announced its first price reductions for the console. The Wii became the best-selling home video-game console produced by Nintendo by January 2010, with sales exceeding 67 million units.
In 2010, sales of the Wii began to decline, falling by 21 percent from the previous year. The drop in sales were considered to be due to a combination of the introduction of the PlayStation Move and Kinect motion control systems on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 systems, and the waning fad of the Wii system. Wii sales also weakened into 2011 as third-party support for the console waned; major publishers were passing over the underpowered Wii to make games for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and personal computers and with the promise of the more powerful Wii U in the near future.
The Wii surpassed 100 million units sold worldwide by June 30, 2013. The Wii had total lifetime sales of 101.63 million consoles worldwide as of March 31, 2016, the last reported data for the console by Nintendo.[j] At least 48 million consoles were sold in North America, 12 million in Japan, and 40 million in all other regions. As of 2020[update], the Wii is Nintendo's best selling console, outselling the Nintendo Entertainment System's 61 million.
By its end-of-life, nine games had sold over ten million units globally for the Wii, which included Wii Sports (82 million, including pack-in copies), Mario Kart Wii (37 million), Wii Sports Resort (38 million), New Super Mario Bros. Wii (30 million), Wii Play (28 million), Wii Fit (22 million), Wii Fit Plus (21 million), Super Smash Bros. Brawl (13 million), and Super Mario Galaxy (12 million). A total of 914.28 million titles had been sold for the Wii by March 31, 2016. The popularity of Wii Sports was considered part of the console's success, making it a killer app for the Wii as it drew those that typically did not play video games to the system.
There were 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 challenge 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 sought and initially won a US$10.1 million judgement against Nintendo for their past sales of both the Wii and Wii U. The case was overturned, with the appellate court ruling that iLife's patents were too broad to cover the specific motion detection technologies developed by Nintendo.
There were lawsuits against Nintendo claiming physical damage done by ineffective wrist straps on Wii Remote when they slipped out of players' hands and broke television screens or windows. 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 later dropped. A second class action lawsuit was filed by a mother in Colorado in December 2008, claiming the updated wrist straps were still ineffective. This suit was dismissed by September 2010, finding for Nintendo that the wrist straps were not knowingly faulty under Colorado consumer protection laws.
Successor and discontinuation
Nintendo announced the successor to the Wii, Wii U, at E3 2011. 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. 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. 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 and November 26, 2013 in Brazil.
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. Nintendo discontinued production of the Wii in October 2013 after selling over 100 million units worldwide, though the company continued to product the Wii Mini unit primarily for the North American market. The WiiConnect24 service and several channels based on that service were shuttered in June 2013. Support for online multiplayer games via the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection were discontinued in May 2014, while the Wii Shop was closed in January 2019, effectively ending all online services for the console. The Wii Mini continued to be manufactured and sold until 2017.
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. 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.
The Wii has been recognized as Nintendo's "blue ocean" strategy to differ itself from its competitors Sony and Microsoft for the next several years. 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. 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.
Part of the Wii's success was attributed to its lower cost compared to the other consoles. While Microsoft and Sony have experienced losses producing their consoles in the hopes of making a long-term profit on software sales, Nintendo reportedly had optimized production costs to obtain a significant profit margin with each Wii unit sold. The Financial Times estimated that in 2007, Nintendo's optimized production gave them a profit from each unit sold ranging from $13 in Japan to $49 in the United States and $79 in Europe. The console's final price at launch of $249.99 made it comparatively cheaper than the Xbox 360 (which was currently available in two models priced at $299 and $399) and the then-upcoming PlayStation 3 (also to be available in two models priced at $499 and $599). Further, Nintendo's first-party games for the Wii were set at an retail price of $50, about $10 less expensive than average games for Nintendo's competitors. 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 $5 million per game compared to $20 million required for developing on the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3.
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. The Wii also can be hacked to enable an owner to use the console for activities unintended by the manufacturer. Several brands of modchips are available for the Wii.
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.
- Only compatible with the original Wii model.
- Compatible with all Wii models except the Wii mini.
- The Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection service was closed on May 20, 2014.
- The WiiConnect24 service was closed on June 27, 2013.
- The Wii Shop Channel service was closed on January 30, 2019.
- Except in Japan and South Korea
- Unlike most of Nintendo's other consoles, the Wii is not named as the "Nintendo Wii" but simply "Wii"; this is also true of the Wii U. It is the first Nintendo console to be trademarked without a "Nintendo" in its name.
- "Wii Remote" is the official name of the device though the nickname "Wiimote" has been used by the general population.
- North America, including Central and South Americas.
- Nintendo did not report any further sales of the Wii Mini which it continued to sell through 2017 in its future earnings reports.
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