"It's dangerous to go alone! Take this!" — The Legend of Zelda
This is a good article.
NOTE: This console is good. This only focuses on what caused it to flop.
"The phrase 'spectacular cavalcade of failure' is tossed around a lot these days, but until the Wii U's E3 reveal in 2011, we never really knew what those words meant."— Daniel Hardcastle
The Wii U (ウィー ユー, Wī Yū), codenamed Project Café, is a home video game console developed by Nintendo, the successor to the Wii, and the predecessor to the Nintendo Switch. Initially released in North America in 2012 and discontinued on January 31, 2017, it was the first eighth-generation home video game console and competed with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
The console was announced in E3 on June 7, 2011. It was marketed along with the Nintendo 3DS and as a home console that would allow gamers to play games on it off-TV with a controller with an integrated touch-screen, called the Wii U GamePad. The latter would also have other features like a movement recognition which is also present on the Nintendo 3DS, and a NFC that would be used mostly for Amiibos.
This console is also well known for home to what is considered not only the worst Sonic game, but also the worst game on the system, as well as one of the worst games of all time: Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric.
- CPU: Tri-Core IBM PowerPC "Espresso" @ 1.24 GHz
- Memory: 2G DDR3
- Storage: 8 / 32 GB internal flash memory
- Display: 1080i, 1080p ,720p ,576i ,576p ,480i ,480p
- Graphics: 550 MHz AMD Radeon-based "Latte"
- Media: Wii U Optical Disc, Wii Optical Disc
Why It Flopped
- Poor marketing: Advertisements were fairly uncommon and the ads also focused too much on younger kids and families. The ads also focused more on the GamePad rather than the console itself (the console sometimes is barely visible in the ads as well")
- The name "Wii U" and the overly kid-friendly marketing made many people confused about whether the system was a new console or an add-on for the Wii (especially with how Nintendo made many Wii games and Wii accessories with the title Wii slapped on it). In contrast, the PlayStation's successor was called the PlayStation 2 which made it easy for everyone to know that it was a new console.
- Poor third party support due to its poorly designed hardware that made it difficult to program for. When the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One were released, developers immediately ditched the Wii U in favor of them since they both had more powerful hardware and were easier to make games for. Some poor hardware designs include:
- The PowerPC-based CPU was essentially just three Wii CPUs overclocked and thrown together onto the same chip (It didn't help with the fact that the Wii CPU was also just 3 GameCube CPUs overclocked as well, which meant that the Wii U was based on severely outdated technology). According to some developers, the CPU has less than half the power of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
- It only has 2 GB of shared system and graphics RAM. Meanwhile, neither of its competitors had less than 8 GB of RAM.
- The internal storage space is very small on standard models, with only 8 GB (with only about 4.5GB of that actually available to the user, as the rest is taken up by the OS), while deluxe models have 32 GB. Either option severely limits digital downloads of games. The only ways to expand storage were via an external USB hard drive or an SD card.
- Just like its predecessor, the Wii U lacks an Ethernet port, requiring you to get an adapter if you want to use wired internet.
- Also like its predecessor, it uses a proprietary disc format and cannot play DVDs or Blu-rays, unlike its competitors. Satoru Iwata, Nintendo's president at the time of the system's release, did not think it was worth it to pay licensing and patent fees because he found that such functionality would be redundant to DVD and Blu-ray players that users may already own.
- The console's hardware was far weaker than the PS4 and Xbox One, overall. While many developers were willing to make downgraded versions of PS3/Xbox 360 games for the Wii due to its success, they weren't willing to make downgraded PS4/Xbox One games for Wii U due to the aforementioned issues with developing games for it and due to the large difference in hardware power.
- The console didn't get a lot of sports video games, unlike the other consoles. It never got a MLB or a NHL video game. Plus, it only got only a single NBA video game called NBA 2K13. The same goes with the Madden NFL and FIFA series. Additionally, it never got a PGA Tour video game, and to make things worse, many of Nintendo's sports games like Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash and Wii Sports Club were lackluster, with the latter simply being a reskin of Wii Sports that was released for the Wii.
- Only about 781 games were released for this console, and most of the Wii U's games were also simply next-gen redone versions of Wii or home simply redone home ports of 3DS games, for example:
- Monster Hunter Ultimate 3 (Which it is 3DS port of Monster Hunter Tri on the Wii) on the 3DS was ported to Wii U and titled Monster Hunter 3G HD in Japan.
- The Japan-only game Dragon Quest X was also ported to Wii U from the Wii, which the Wii U version can still be played online, as Square Enix still support the Wii U version.
- While Nintendo gave it a large amount of first-party support, they completely ignored many of their IPs; most of the first party games were either Mario games or Mario spin-offs. There wasn't even a new Metroid game and there was only one new Zelda game (Hyrule Warriors). Two of the other Zelda games released for it were only remasters and one of them was a game that also released on the Switch.
- The GamePad was often underutilized or poorly implemented: even Nintendo's own first party games didn't use it much, the GamePad's battery life is also short lasting only about 1-3 hours in comparison to Nintendo Switch's Joy-Cons, which they last 4-5 hours and longer than GamePad's.
- Overpriced: Despite knowing that the system was struggling, Nintendo kept the price at or slightly above $300 during its entire lifespan, when you can get a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One for cheaper. Same goes for many first-party games such as Mario Kart 8, which are, to this day, still sold at their launch price.
- The stylus is very slippery and loose meaning that you could easily lose it.
- Absence of games from iconic franchises that were on the Wii or other Nintendo systems for that matter, such as Mega Man, Worms, Final Fantasy, The Sims, Burnout, Story of Seasons, Harvest Moon, and WWE just to name a few. Without these franchises, many people who were otherwise loyal to the 3DS or others were less willing to transition to the Wii U.
- While it certainly did not have as much shovelware as the Wii and Ouya did, Nintendo exercised very little quality control over indie developer content, similarly to the Xbox 360. Games like IQ Test, Meme Run and Bigley's Revenge from Ninja Pig Studios, The Stonecutter, Alice in Wonderland, and Red Riding Hood from Brave Rock Games, and The Letter ended up on the Wii U as a result.
- On top of that, the Wii U had exclusives like Sonic Boom and Family Party: 30 Great Games Obstacle Arcade, both of which have made world records with Sonic Boom being as the lowest rated Sonic Game and Family Party being the lowest rated Metacritic game on the Wii U as well as the 2nd Lowest Metacritic game ever (Behind Big Rigs)
- Very few of the PS3/X360 games released between the Wii U's launch and the launches of the PS4 and Xbox One were ported to Wii U. The games that were ported didn't have any real performance advantages, and were frequently stiffed on content compared to the other versions. A particularly infamous example was EA releasing Mass Effect 3 for Wii U, but not the Mass Effect Trilogy.
- The GameCube controller adapter released for it only worked with Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. It doesn't even work with Wii games that supported GameCube controllers on the original Wii.
- Just like the Wii and the 3DS, it's region locked, but it is the last Nintendo home console to have regional lockout.
- Because the console has been discontinued in early 2017, shortly before its successor, the Nintendo Switch came out, most services and multiplayer online games would be shut down on the 3DS and Wii U.
- The Monster Hunter: Frontier G was officially shut down on December 18, 2019 along with PS3, Xbox 360, and PC versions, after going free-to-play for its final month.
- The Wii U and 3DS eShop was shut down in Latin American countries on July 31, 2020, making it impossible to download classic games in those regions. Fortunately, this doesn't affect North and South American, Japanese, and PAL regions.
- Similar to the 3DS, the YouTube app was redesigned, making it impossible to see videos.
- Since March 31st 2021, the Super Mario Maker level sharing feature from the Wii U version has been removed.
- As of June 30, 2021, players can no longer access Netflix on the Wii U and 3DS.
- The 3DS and Wii U eShop will end credit card support in all countries starting January 18, 2022. Though if you merge your NNID with a Nintendo Account, you can add currency that way.
- As fine as its Virtual Console lineup was, it was still lackluster to what the Wii offered. At the beginning of its lifespan, it only offered NES and SNES games and would eventually get games from the GBA, Wii, DS, and N64. Ever since the Wii Shop Channel launched, it offered games from many more platforms, including non-Nintendo platforms.
- Game Boy Advance and DS would've been more fitting on the 3DS's VC library, since those systems are handheld, while the Wii U is a home console.
- Although it has a great Virtual Console library, it lacked GameCube, which it's too hard to play GameCube games on the Wii U. It also lacked GB, GBC, and 3DS games.
- Speaking of Virtual Console, There were no visual options to adjusting how the games looked like the NES Classic and SNES Classic, and the NES and N64 games were locked to a dark filter for epileptic reasons along with forced widescreen and blurriness.
Despite being a commercial failure, the Wii U is still a good console and did have enough redeeming qualities to be on the Awesome Games Wiki. See here.
The console was mixed-to-positive reviews even from critics and was well-received for the improvements over the Wii, however, unlike other Nintendo consoles (not counting the Virtual Boy), it was slightly less positively received, though developers were distinctly more skeptical of the system due to its weak hardware, and struggled to find non-gimmicky ways to use its various unique features. Due to the weak hardware loss of third-party support, only 13.56 million units and 96.52 million softwares were sold as of December 31, 2016, lower than Nintendo's previously lowest-selling home console, the GameCube, which was 21.74 million. It should be noted that this is only the lowest-selling because Nintendo claimed that the Virtual Boy was a portable system, but the Wii U at least outsold that.
The Wii U's failure caused many to become concerned about Nintendo's future as a hardware manufacturer. Many were quite critical when their next console, the Switch, was announced, wondering if it would turn out to be a similarly gimmicky piece of hardware that would struggle to find a place. It was later announced that the Wii U was now a legacy console.
The Nintendo Switch's success help undo much of the damage caused by the Wii U, with many saying Nintendo learned their lesson from the Wii U and would improve almost everything with the Nintendo Switch. Several of the Wii U's ideas have been implemented for the Switch and done better.
The production of the Wii U was discontinued on January 31st, 2017 and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild went on to be the last first-party game released for it. Many Wii U titles, such as Mario Kart 8, were ported over to the Nintendo Switch, with extra content and all previously released DLCs in the Switch version like Tekken Tag Tournament 2 and Need for Speed: Most Wanted U include pre-installed DLCs and exclusive features in the Wii U version, to the point that some of them outsold not only their Wii U version, but the Wii U itself such as Mario Kart 8 selling 28.99 copies on the Switch alone (more than the Wii U version and the Wii U itself combined)
The Wii U has a rating of 3.93 on GameFAQs (which it is lower than Wii's, when the Wii has a rating of 4.07 on GameFAQs), making it is currently the lowest rated Nintendo home console, the console becoming the most underrated good game console of the all time by many gamers, it was also considered by some as one of the worst consoles of all time.
- Fuck Yeah, Video Games: The Life and Extra Lives of a Professional Nerd, page 123