The Wii U () is an upcoming video game console by Nintendo and will be the successor to the Wii. The system was unveiled during Nintendo's press conference at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2011 on June 7, 2011, and is expected to be released during the fourth quarter of 2012 in North America, Europe, Australia, and Japan. It will be the first entry in the eighth generation of video game consoles.
The Wii U also features a new controller, called the Wii U GamePad, with an embedded touchscreen. The controller allows a player to continue playing certain games by displaying the game even when the television is off. At the E3 2012 expo, a second controller, called the Pro Controller, was unveiled, which is a more traditional gamepad. It features two analog sticks.
The system will be backwards compatible with Wii, and Wii U games can support compatibility with Wii peripherals, such as the Wii Remote Plus and the Nunchuk. It will not be backwards compatible with Nintendo GameCube discs or peripherals, although games can be purchased and downloaded from Nintendo's Virtual Console service.
The console was first conceived in 2008, after Nintendo recognized several limitations and challenges with the Wii, such as the general public perception that the system catered primarily for a "casual" audience. With Wii U, Nintendo explicitly wishes to lure "core" gamers back. Game designer Shigeru Miyamoto admitted that the lack of HD and limited network infrastructure for the Wii also contributed to the system being regarded in a separate class to its competitors' systems, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It was decided that a new console would have to be made to accommodate significant structural changes.
Within the company, there was much debate over the idea for the new console, and the project was scrapped and restarted several times. The concept of a touchscreen embedded within the controller was originally inspired by the blue light on the Wii that illuminates to indicate new messages. Miyamoto and his team wanted to include a small screen to provide game feedback and status messages to players (in similar vein to the VMU for Sega's Dreamcast). Much later in development, this was expanded to a full screen that could display the game being played in its entirety, a concept which was suggested but not financially viable earlier in the project.
Initial beliefs about the Wii's successor were that the new console would be an "enhanced version" named the "Wii HD". Many journalists claimed that it would have a high-definition video output along with a Blu-ray Disc drive built in with a release sometime in 2011. However, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata later stated that he saw "no significant reason" to include HD into the Wii and that such an addition would be better suited for a successor. Shigeru Miyamoto also expressed Nintendo's interest in working with HD graphics but clarified that the company is primarily focused on the gameplay experience. In October 2009, Miyamoto said that they had no concrete plans about a successor yet, but knew that the successor would possibly still feature motion controls and they expected its interface to be "more compact" and cheaper. Iwata also mentioned that the Wii's successor might be 3D-compatible but concluded that the adoption rates of 3D televisions should increase to at least 30% first.
In 2010, Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime commented that he felt "confident the Wii home entertainment console has a very long life in front of it" and declared that a successor would not be launched in the near future. At the E3 2010 presentation, Iwata revealed to the BBC that they would begin announcing a new console once Nintendo ran "out of ideas with the current hardware and cannot give users any more meaningful surprises with the technology [they had]". Later, at an investor's meeting, he disclosed that they were "of course studying and developing the next console to Wii", but they were simultaneously keeping its concepts secret because it was "really important for [his] business to positively surprise people." Reggie Fils-Aime commented in a CNN article and claimed that Nintendo's next home console would not likely feature stereoscopic 3D, based on the 3D technology Nintendo had experimented with.
In April 2011, an uncredited source indicated that Nintendo was planning on unveiling the successor to the Wii during E3 2011, codenamed Project Caf , that would be capable of gameplay in HD resolutions and will be backward compatible with Wii software. It was also rumored that the console would feature an all new controller with a built in high-resolution screen. The origin of the rumor for the codename (and many other details) was French technology publication 01net. 01net had previously revealed the technical specifications of Sony's PlayStation Vita before it was announced. The new machine was believed twice as powerful as the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
Many claims focused on the new controller, which would feature dual analog sticks, a standard D-pad, two bumpers, two triggers and "possibly more". IGN compared the functionality of the new controller to a Nintendo GameCube controller. 01net claimed the controller would be "a touch tablet controller, with moderate graphic output," comparing the controller to an iPad with buttons. They also added that there would be a front-facing camera on the controller. Supposedly, the controller would also feature six-axis motion controls that outperform a PlayStation Move motion controller (in terms of fidelity), as well as a built-in sensor bar. The new controller features a 6.2-inch touchscreen. 01net took the rumor a step further and claimed that the touchscreen would be single-touch. Sources from CVG claimed that the controller featured a high-resolution screen. IGN claimed that the controller would allow players to stream entire games to the controller from the console, and that the console itself "is likely to resemble a modernized version of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES)."
According to Edge, THQ president Brian Farrell allegedly told investors: "We don't expect new hardware any time soon from either Microsoft or Sony. It's different on Nintendo we'll let them announce their new hardware".
E3 2011]], demonstrating the various options of the controller. On April 25, 2011, Nintendo released a statement officially announcing a system to succeed the Wii. They simultaneously announced that it would be released during 2012, and that playable console units would be present at E3 2011 (June 7 9). Speaking at an investor's conference, Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata stated the Wii successor "will offer something new for home game systems." Iwata also confirmed that the successor to Wii will not launch in the fiscal year of 2012, meaning that it will release after April 2012.
On May 4, 2011, Kotaku reported that Project Caf would have 8 GB of flash-based memory on board, with the assumed purpose of storing game saves. The game discs used by the console were said to be of a proprietary format, and to hold up to 25 GB of data, which is similar to the capacity of a single-layer Blu-ray Disc. In early June, Nikkei issued a report confirming earlier rumors that the new console will feature a controller with a 6 inch touchscreen that will give tablet-like controls to games, as well as a rechargeable battery and a camera. Nikkei says the system will be released in mid-2012.
A prototype version of Wii U was showcased at E3 2011. The design of the console and controller were not definitive versions. The controller demonstrated a touch screen over 6 inches wide and contained a built-in microphone, speakers, gyroscope, accelerometer, rumble and camera. All processing is done on the console itself, the output of which can be displayed either on a TV, the controller, or both simultaneously; however, the screen only supports single touch, not multitouch, going against a popular trend across the technology industry, and, at the time of unveiling, the system only supported output to one tablet controller at a time, though Nintendo is reportedly looking into allowing for such functionality in the final version of the hardware. Games that were confirmed were New Super Mario Bros. U and the movement from Wii to Wii U of the long-in-development Pikmin 3. A list of third party titles was also announced to be available at release, and were on show with video clips taken from PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions.
Shares of Nintendo fell almost 10 percent in the two days following unveiling of Wii U to levels not seen since 2006. Some analysts expressed skepticism of Nintendo's addition of a touch screen to the controller, expressing concern that the controller would be less affordable and less innovative than the original Wii Remote.
On July 5, 2011, when asked about whether or not the Wii U was going to support 3D, Iwata told San Jose Mercury News, "If you are going to connect Wii U with a home TV capable of displaying 3-D images, technologically, yes, it is going to be possible, but that's not the area we are focusing on".
On October 27, 2011, Iwata stated during an investors meeting that the Wii U will be released after March 2012, and its final specification and form were revealed at E3 2012.
Nintendo presented the Wii U at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show (January 10 13).
On January 26, 2012, Iwata told investors that the Wii U will be launched by the 2012 year end shopping season in all major regions. Furthermore, Iwata stated that the console will feature a unified online system known as Nintendo Network, which will feature user account support as opposed to the use of friend codes. Nintendo Network will also provide the framework for online multiplayer interactions, add-on content sales, as well as digital distribution of applications and video games. Moreover, Iwata mentioned that the Wii U controller will support NFC, which will allow the system to wirelessly interact with figurines and cards created by developers. It will also allow for microtransactions to take place wirelessly using credit cards that have NFC support.
Nintendo will be offering a white Wii U console at launch, with a black console at, or some time after launch. The Nintendo official E3 Webpage shows both colors.
Wii U GamePad
Wii U GamePad (White) The Wii U GamePad is the main controller for the Wii U. It features a built-in touchscreen, which can either supplement or replicate the gameplay shown on the main display, and can function as a standalone screen without the use of a television screen. The controller features an accelerometer, gyroscope, camera, dual analog sticks, a built-in microphone, and supports near field communication (which can be used for, among other uses, figurines that can interact with the console and wireless credit card payments with compatible cards). The console will also be compatible with the Wii Remote Plus, Wii Nunchuk and Wii Balance Board, as well as a Wii U Pro Controller for more traditional controls. Two GamePads are supported per console.
Shigeru Miyamoto promoted the idea of the GamePad, stating that he supports being able to use a secondary screen while someone else is watching the television. Wii U is said to offer asymmetric competition, where the player using the GamePad has one experience and wins in a certain way, while competing players have different ways to play and win.
Wii U Pro Controller
Wii U Pro Controller (Black and White) The Wii U Pro Controller is the second controller released for the console, available separately. Like more traditional controllers, it features standard control sticks, buttons, and triggers. Nintendo unveiled the Pro Controller at E3 2012 with the aim of attracting more "hardcore" gamers to make the Wii U more competitive with Sony's and Microsoft's offering. Many video game journalists have noted the similarity between the controller and Microsoft's Xbox 360 Controller; However, Nintendo claims that the design of the Pro Controller is an enhanced version of the Wii Classic controller and "offers a richer experience."
Nintendo has released technical specifications of the Wii U hardware, which are listed below. These specifications are subject to change.
CPU: IBM POWER-based multi-core processor
The Wii U CPU is designed by IBM. It is described by IBM as an "all-new, POWER-based microprocessor", the processor is a multi-core design manufactured at 45 nm with an eDRAM cache. Although neither Nintendo nor IBM has revealed detailed specifications, such as the number of cores, clock rate, or cache sizes, references to the chip containing "a lot" of eDRAM and "the same processor technology found in Watson" indicate that the processor shares some characteristics with IBM's POWER7 processor, which powers the Watson computer system and incorporates a large L3 eDRAM cache. The Wii U CPU will be produced by IBM at their 300 mm semiconductor manufacturing facility in East Fishkill, New York.
- Ports and peripheral capabilities
- SD memory card slot (supports SDHC cards)
- USB 2.0 ports (2 at front of console, 2 at rear)
- Sensor Bar power port
- "AV Multi Out" port
HDMI 1.4 out port
- Wii U GamePad
- Note: The Wii U is also compatible with the Wii Remote Plus, Wii Nunchuk, Classic Controller, and the Wii Balance Board.
- "AV Multi Out" port. Six-channel PCM linear output through HDMI
Near Field Communication
The Wii U's Near Field Communication chip is located on the Wii U GamePad. The NFC chip can be used to allow users to import content from supported devices. This is achieved by placing the device on the Wii U GamePad. The NFC chip also has the ability to write information on items which can be used as a means of transferring information. Moreover, the NFC chip can also be used to make wireless transaction using their credit cards by simply placing the supported credit cards on top of the Wii U GamePad.
Miiverse as shown on the Wii U Menu. Nintendo Network is Nintendo's unified network infrastructure similar to the Sony's PlayStation Network and Microsoft's Xbox Live. Nintendo Network is available on the Nintendo 3DS and the Wii U. On the Wii U, Nintendo Network provides the means for online multiplayer, video chatting (achieved by the using the Wii U Gamepad's inbuilt camera), as well as digital downloads. Nintendo Network on the Wii U will use a user account system much like the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live. One Wii U system can contain up to 12 user accounts. The user account system on the Wii U will replace the previous friend code model that was used on the Wii, but will not eliminate use of friend codes completely as they now serve a different purpose on the Wii U. Nintendo Network can also be used as a means to achieve Wii U and Nintendo 3DS connectivity.
The Wii U's eShop will be Nintendo's digital distribution store. Available at launch, the eShop will provide the means to download digital Wii U titles, retail Wii U titles, WiiWare titles, Virtual Console titles, and applications. The Wii U's eShop will also allow users to obtain patches, add-ons, and expansions for both retail and digital games. Moreover, all content obtained from the Wii U's eShop are attached to a user account, and they can all be easily moved to other Wii U systems.
The Wii U also contains an integrated social network system called Miiverse. Miiverse is directly integrated into the Wii U's system menu and can also be integrated into games and it can be accessed at any time. It allows users to chat with one another through text as well as through video (using the Wii U Gamepad's inbuilt camera). Miiverse will also allow users to share their achievements in supported games. Nintendo has stated that Miiverse uses standard internet technologies, and so it can easily be accessed through personal computer, mobile devices, tablets, and the Nintendo 3DS; however, accessibility to the Miiverse by devices other than the Wii U will be supported after the launch of the Wii U. Nintendo has stated that Miiverse will be moderated through software filtering as well as through human resources team hired by Nintendo, as such comments posted can take up to 30 minutes to be posted.
The Wii U also contains a web browser which will allow users to browse the web on the Wii U Gamepad or through the television screen. The web browser will also contain presentation effects such as the opening of stage curtains which can be used when the user wishes to share a web page from the Wii U Gamepad onto the television screen.
Nintendo is working with Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, and YouTube to bring streaming digital movie and television content to the Wii U. Nintendo has demonstrated that simple gestures can be used on the Wii U GamePad to transfer video content from the GamePad to the television screen. Users will also have the ability to switch from the television screen to the Wii U GamePad when watching videos.
The Wii U GamePad can also be used as a universal television remote with a built in guide, even when the Wii U is off. This will allow users to use the Wii U GamePad as a means to switch television inputs, browse through channels, look through channel programming guides, and turn the Wii U console on.
The Wii U system software will be integrated with Miiverse and Nintendo Network. When the Wii U starts, the television screen will show the Miiverse and the status of the Miis on Miiverse, whereas the GamePad will show the software launcher menu where games and applications can be launched from; the Miiverse view and the software launcher view can be changed between the television screen and the Wii U GamePad screen. The Wii U system software will also allow users to access chatting on Miiverse without closing their game.
These will be the official covers for Wii U games. Notice the blue-yellow banner at the top, mimicing the Nintendo GameCube covers. Nintendo ensures greater support for third-party games on the Wii U; during E3 2011 a handful of third-party titles were confirmed to be in development for the Wii U. During E3 2012, third-party titles were shown such as Darksiders II, Assassin's Creed III, Mass Effect 3, Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition, Just Dance 4, Madden 13, as well as exclusives such ZombiU, Rayman Legends, Rabbids Land and Lego City Undercover.
Some first-party games Nintendo has announced for the system include New Super Mario Bros. U, Pikmin 3, Nintendo Land, Wii Fit U, and Game & Wario. Satoru Iwata also mentioned in the previous year about the next Super Smash Bros. title, which has started development according to Masahiro Sakurai.
The Wii U is confirmed to be compatible with most Wii games, both on disk and digital. Wii accessories such as the Wii Remote, Classic Controller, and Balance Board also remain compatible. Nintendo has also confirmed that it will be possible to move downloaded software and save files from the Wii to the Wii U. However, despite the Wii's general compatibility with Nintendo GameCube games, the Wii U will not be compatible with GameCube disks or accessories, although Nintendo has stated that some GameCube games will be available as Virtual Console titles through the Wii U's eShop.
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