Nintendo Wii (Wii) || 2006-2012



The Wii is a home console released by Nintendo in 2006. As the seventh generation console, the Wii competed with the Xbox 360 and the PlaySataion 3. Over the course of this generation, the Wii saw huge global success mainly to the new player styles and targetting of a broader demographic. Over the course of the Wii's lifespan, the console developed several new games that focused on motion controls. The console also expanded on past features, such as offering more online play compared to the Gamecube and also offering backwards compatability, a new feature Nintendo was trying with its own Nintendo DS. The Wii was a huge innovation in video game history, and challenged the fundamental question of how we play games.


The Wii actually already started development in 2001, when the Gamecube first launched. During this time, famous game developers like Shigeru Miyamoto focused on a key question of how to create a new form of player experience. The idea was that power isn't everything for a console and that sometimes having a unique way to play might be the way to go. In 2003, game engineers and designers were assembled to develop the concept, and by 2005 the controller interface had taken form. The Wii had taken some influences from various Nintendo consoles, especially the Nintendo DS. Because of this unique idea, the console was known as "Revolution." The name was ultimately changedto the "Wii" to represent the two controllers and because it sounds like "we." It was an emphasis that the console was for everyone and the simple name would help people remember the console no matter the location. Even though there were complaints about the name changes, the underlying philosophy was simple: how do we get new people to play games?

Technical Specifications
CPU IBM Power PC Broadway @729 MHz
Memory 88 megabytes
Storage 512 megabytes
Interesting Designs Introduced motion controls into gaming.
Units Sold 101.63 million

Getting New People to Play Games

The idea Nintendo eventually decided on was creating an easier barrier to entry for casual gamers through various peripherals. The technical parts of the Wii had much lower quality than its competitors in the Xbox 360 and PS3. The Wii didn't have traditional controller schemes, as strong of a CPU and lacked in graphics. The PS3 and Xbox 360 had already started to handle games in HD, yet the Wii still could only support 480p.

Despite this, new technology was the way to attract people who would otherwise not game. Nintendo developed the Wii remote, which used a combination of built-in accelerometers and infrared detection to sense position in 3D space. With the development of the Sensor Bar, the Wii Remote could use tthis 3D positioning by pointing it at the LEDs in the Sensor Bar. The design of the remote also allowed users to control the game with physical gestrues in addition to the normal button presses on controllers. The controller utilized bluetooth and incorporated rumble and an internal speaker. This setup made it so that people could play games just based off of something that was universal: human motion. Individuals who originally couldn't use a traditional controller well could now use their natural motion as a controller setup. This dropped the barrier between player and game since now, the player is nearly in the game. Nintendo eventually built on this idea with the Wii MotionPlus, which augments the Wii Remote's sensors with gyroscopes for better motion detection.

New Controls, New Channels, New Compatability

With the addition of the Wii Remote, Nintendo expanded on all the features of the technology. They added in new setups like the Wii Balance Board, which utilized pressure sensors to measure center of balance. Attachments like the Nunchuk added on additional control schemes such as having 2 handed motion which could simulate many things like boxing. Since the Wii also featured these new controls to draw in new players. The menu interfaces were also designed to use the pointer capability of the Wii Remotes and were designed to emulate TV channels.


A New Type of Player

The Wii had generally positive reviews. Upon release, it was highly praised for being something new and innovative. Nintendo's strategy with the Wii utilized the Blue Ocean strategy, in which in order to do well in a marketspace one looks towards a new area of the market rather than being more competitive in the established areas. The Wii won several awards for its design and third-party developers realized the capabilities of the Wii. The Wii was also credited as being more physically demanding than other consoles. Studies have focused on using the Wii for rehabilitation for teenagers with cerebral palsy, and the physical movement may be beneficial for weight management (though it is not an adequate replacement for regular exercise). The Wii had incredible sales and games for the system because of the new audience it targetted. Several households and casual gaming families purchased the Wii, and it was the best selling console of the generation, hitting over 100 million units sold.

Split Opinions

Despite the Wii's immense popularity, it shared a fair bit of criticism. A lot of critics called the lack of power in the Wii's hardware specifications. Many found that the performance of the console was fairly low-quality and that the Wii lacked the power necessary to run software scheduled from other seventh-generation consoles. Also, online services were critcized with many saying the feature was unintuitive. Over time, as the Wii approached the end of its lifespan, the sales of the Wii dropped severely, with losses of about $1 billion. Many believed that the Wii's design was short-sighted, and that it focused on motion controls being a gimmick while not being a solid console. This was seen as the hardware soon became outdated and couldn't compare to the Xbox 360 and PS3, especially since motion-sensor controllers were introduced for the latter consoles which nullified the Wii's main selling point. In addition, as Nintendo started to focus its efforts more on other consoles like the Nintendo 3DS, priority on the Wii dipped and it lost relevancy. Despite this, the value of the Wii can't be understated as it opened up a new subset of gaming that was once thought impossible.


Last Console: Gamecube
Next Console: Wii U