Nintendo Wii U (Wii U) || 2012-2017


Development

Intro

The Nintendo Wii U was a console developed by Nintendo and released in 2012. Designed to be the successor to the Wii, the console was the first eighth-generation console and competed with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The Wii U expanded on a lot of the Wii's features, which included backwards compatibility as well as the motion controls the Wii introduced. However, the Wii U did make some changes; it was the first Nintendo console to support HD graphics. Also, the system's controller, the GamePad, was a key point of interest, just like the Wii remote. The Gamepad had an embedded touchscreen, directional buttons, analog sticks, action buttons in addition to the normal accelerometers. This combined with the past controls like the Wii Remote and Balance Board gave the Wii U the feel of a second wave of the Wii.

Bringing back the "Core" Gamers

Following the wave that was the Wii, the Wii U started development in 2008. Afte rNintendo recognized several limitations and the public's perception of the Wii, Nintendo wanted to create something that could bring back the "core" gamers. People believed the Wii targeted the casual gamers too much, so Nintendo wanted to shift the focus again. Many designers realized the need for HD graphics and improving the limited network infrastructure the Wii had. These changes were made, but Nintendo also wanted to make some structural changes that took a lot of time to finalize. Ultimately, the touchscreen display was chosen which was later developed into the GamePad's touchscreen. However, throughout development, the teams were very wishy-washy with the design of the Wii U, and concepts were scrapped and rebuilt many times. This shown in the news outlets too, as there were many times Nintendo employees and representatives gave answers that seemed to conflict with each other.

Technical Specifications
CPU IBM PowerPC Espresso @1.24 GHz
Memory 2 gigabytes
Storage 32 gigabytes
Interesting Designs Developed asymmetric gaming with an innovative gamepad.
Units Sold 13.56 million

New Services and Multimedia Integration

Expanding on previously touched topics, the Wii U made strides in adding on features many critics believed the Wii should've had at launch. One of these was the online service; the Wii U used the Nintendo Network platform for online services, and utilized more online multiplayer as well as introducing the Nintendo eShop. In addition, video chat and Wii U chat services were also introduced. Nintendo also introduced a social networking service known as Miiverse integrated into the console's system software. Miiverse would allow players to interact and share content in game-specific communities through posts, screenshots, achievements and more. Likewise, the Wii U also started to support online services through apps. Some of these included Amazon Video, Hulu, Netflix and YouTube. The Nintendo TVii service allowed program listings from a television provider to be combined with online video on demand services. This was a huge step up from the Wii Channel system from the previous system and made the Wii U a much more multi-faceted device. These changes showed that Nintendo was starting to focus on multimedia integration and started to make systems that were a bit more than just games.

The GamePad: Introducing Asymmetric Gaming

The biggest selling point of the Wii U's design was the GamePad. Nearly all the games on the Wii U utilized this feature in certain applications, and the GamePad was also used in apps outside of just the games. The main design feature of the GamePad was the embedded screen. This would allow the pad to be a companion to games being played on a TV, but also it would be a means of playing games on the GamePad itself without a TV. The GamePad was also designed to enable a concept Nintendo dubbed "asymmetric gaming." In multiplayer games, a player using the GamePad may have a different gameplay objective and experience than the other players playing on the TV. This concept was huge and many games Nintendo released at launch showed off this concept. Other than asymmetric gaming, the GamePad was also designed to support near-field communication and various other features through its microphone, camera and sensors.


History/Impact

A Lack of Focus

Historically, the Wii U did not do well. A huge issue critics had of the Wii U was that the console seemed to have a lack of focus. This is because a lot of Nintendo's promotion was on the GamePad itself, which led many people to believe that the Wii U was simply an add-on to the Wii and not a new console. The Wii U had slow consumer adoption, especially since the console had issues with user interface and functionality. The GamePad was also slightly criticized, such as in battery life. Overall, while Nintendo tried to introduce new concepts such as Miiverse and more, the issue was that there was a lack of development or features in all the console's areas. This was especially apparent compared to the console standards set by the PS4 and Xbox One. With a controller that would only last 3.5 hours and many features not being fully-fleshed out, the Wii U did not have many selling points anymore.

Lack of Third Party

Besides issues in execution and design, the Wii U also had an issue in that it had a very weak lineup of games. Building on a potential issue that the Wii had, the problem was fully realized with the Wii U, which was the lack of third party support. The Wii U struggled to have third party support compared to its rivals. Despite Nintendo having great games on the console, the issue was that one good game here or there wouldn't be enough save the Wii U. Put simply, the issue was that while Nintendo could occassionally release its AAA titles, the GamePad was too much of an issue for developers to accomodate. For the PS4 and Xbox One, it was easy for game devs to port games by only changing minor things like the control scheme. However, the asymetric design of the GamePad was too much of a hassle to design around, so the Wii U often lacked any good games to play. This hurt the system as without any good games, there was no reason to buy it. However, despite the Wii U flopping because of its interesting design, it did set the foundation for future Nintendo consoles.


Games

Last Console: Wii
Next Console: Switch