Turns Out A Lot Of People Have No Idea What The Hell A Wii U Is

Last night, an Australian TV commercial for the Wii U came on. My wife looked at it, then at me, then back at it, then at our Wii, before finally asking "wait, don't we have a Wii? What's this?"

While a single anecdote, it sums up my biggest concern for Nintendo's new console, at least in its early months: its message. Its marketing. A console's capabilities and even its software are irrelevant if it's not sold properly, and where the Wii was clearly sold as a new, revolutionary device, Nintendo's messaging for the Wii U has been a bit of a mess, one that starts from the very top. With its name.

By calling it the Wii U, and not the Wii 2 (or an entirely different thing), and by using old Wii Remotes in much of its advertising, Nintendo has failed to differentiate the product from its predecessor. At least at a glance. Now, my wife, she was quickly informed that, no, this is a new console, like how the PS3 followed the PS2. But not everyone is going to have someone "in the know" sitting next to them to explain the difference when they first come across the system.

Which is leading, as we've found, to a lot of people having no idea what the hell a Wii U is. Like Michelle Obama, the First Lady of the United States.

We had a bit of a chuckle about that yesterday, but even the most casual search on Twitter shows she's far from alone. While the word "Wii" is almost universally recognised after a six-year run as one of the hottest consoles of all time, with near-unprecedented mainstream appeal, "Wii U" seems to have some folks awfully confused.

It's easy to laugh, as readers of a video game news website, but put yourself in their shoes. You're up to your neck in news and information about video games, of course you know what a Wii U is. But if you're just some regular user, a casual player, and you own a Wii then see a commercial where people are still using Wii Remotes but on a different box that's got kinda the same name, what are you going to think?

Well, you're going to think a lot like these folks are thinking.

Now, this won't be a long-term issue for Nintendo. In 12-24 months, after enough market penetration and advertising, I'm sure most people will have an idea what the new console is all about. But boy, I bet that right now, someone at Nintendo is wishing they'd gone with a different name.


Comments

    They had the same problem with the 3DS, only now do I see parents who bought their kid a DS during that explosion picking up a 3DS for their kid.

    Still both of these are better than the Vita, I doubt regular people even know it exists

      Vita is a better console than 3DS and WiiU, and yet only two people at my work knew what they were, and all of them play CoD regularly. It's doing just as bad, if not worse.

        Thats your opinion not fact that the vita is better then 3DS or Wii U

          All my opinions are fact.

            Watch out, we gotta baddass over here!

            if you believed that just means your full of yourself

            All your facts are opinions.

      Yep they had the same problem, but a different cause. The name 3DS clearly emphasizes it's point of difference (3D), but the Wii U doesn't.

      The article could have also added that the Wii U looks very much the same as a Wii, to the untrained eye, as do the games. Sure, more of us here will know the importance of the difference between HD and SD but will your average Joe or Joanna? I don't think so.

    It's all in the name.

    Naming it Wii U was a stupid decision because the consumer base can't tell the two products apart.

      Nintendo should of just called it the Wii 2 - unoriginal but safe. Though the mainstream not knowing what an Wii U is will generate alot of conversation and word of mouth - the defining factor of any product.

    I think Nintendo were so proud of how they made 'Wii' a household name with predominantly brand new audience that they really wanted to keep it, instead of trying to create a whole new IP. I think Wii U is a missed opportunity though, it's a 'nothing' name and loses the catchiness of Wii as theres too many vowel sounds. They should just gone with Super Wii like they've done in some of the japanese commercials, at least that would have some clarity to it and they already made that work from NES to Super NES.

      I think the problem is that Nintendo presumed that they would be wowwing the masses and the media in much the same way they did with the Wii and that given that level of media exposure and high demand for the product we'll all fall in love with the new concepts behind the Wii U and its oh so cute name.

      But there's not been any love for it. No free media advertising. And, as the article states, in the midst of that people have no idea what the Wii U is and why they should buy it.

      So they've missed that boat now haven't they? They can't re-launch the Wii U. The media can't jump on board 3 months down the track when they finally get it.

        no i dont think Nintendo expected the Wii U to be as successful as the Wii, if they did they would have priced the console at a profit like they did with the Wii, which they didnt. They tried that with the 3DS and it didnt work. Nintendo realise that the market for games has change and tablets have become a real threat to the console market.

        Not been any love? Wii U has already out sold 360 and ps3 launches so as far as direct competition its getting plenty of 'love' i dont know what nonsense you talking as usual. It doesnt have to be a Wii like seller to be successful, after all 360 & ps3 sold less at launch then the Wii U yet today they are considered relatively successful.

        Finally its twitter im sure you are so excited with any piece of negative news you can find about the Wii U, its obvious you cant help yourself and feel you need to mount some miss guided campaign against Nintendo in the hopes that your efforts may some how stop Nintendos console being a success because if Nintendos console isnt a success your console of choice has a chance of winning the console wars, something it didnt do last generation. Pretty sad.

          Hmmm. Terrak, you're resorting to insults again. I've brought this up with you before, for which you previously apologised. You don't have to agree with my comments but can you please refrain from personal insults - unless, that is, i've personally insulted you - which I haven't.

          Not been any love?

          Yes. Where is the media coverage? Where is the 10 minute piece on Today Tonight covering the phenomenon of Nintendos new breakthrough console? Where is the double page magazine spread in News Weekly? They're not here. Why? Because Nintendos console isn't ground breaking, and Nintendo haven't marketed / publicised their new system at all well (as the article argues).

          Pretty sad? (this is the insult to which I refer)

          Look, I highly doubt that anything I could say, or do, could in any way have any significant effect, if any at all, on one of the largest corporate entities in the world. To think that I might think that I could have such an effect is weird and baseless.

          All I'm doing, Terrak, is expressing my opinion within a relevant discussion forum. Nothing more. And. let's be clear, I'm entitled to do that.

          The reason why I comment in regards to the Wii U is because I find the subject interesting, and of course, topical.

          The reason why my comments in regards to the Wii U are in the main negative, is because that is how I feel.

          I would like to feel positive about the Wii U. I would like for one of the 3 key gaming players to have made a console that I would like to purchase, that will enhance (significantly) my gaming experience.

          But I do not feel that that is the case.

          I feel that Nintendo let me down with the Wii, and now they're main gaming console offering for the next 5 years also offers me very little. From that, instead of having 3 options from the leading 3 gaming consoles manufacturers, we're already down to 2 which may be worth me purchasing. That's disappointing. I shouldn't be this disappointed with a brand new console this quickly. They should have done better, much better.

          If it were only me that was disappointed with the Wii U, then perhaps it'd be wise for me to accept that and not to make any negative comments - given that everyone else would disagree in any case. However, it seems to me that I am not / will not be the only person to see the weakness in Nintendos new system. And. in my opinion, a new console cannot afford to have weaknesses.

          Look at the Sega Saturn, or the Sega Dreamcast. To be clear I didn't own either, so my facts may be off. But as far as I understand they were both perfectly good machines that matched the performance of their respective competitors - yet both failed. I believe the same could be said of the Gamecube.

          The Wii U will be, by the look of it, vastly inferior to its competitors (PS4/720) as and when they arrive, and as such it astounds me that Nintendo think they have anything other than a complete and utter failure on their hands.

          Sure, who am I to say that the Wii U will fail (in terms of market share, number of units sold etc) - I don't hold a crystal ball., But from what we can see they have failed in marketing and PR thus far. They have failed to innovate something that inspires the market. They have failed to launch with ground-breaking games. They have failed to develop a machine significantly technologically superior to their competitors.

          In recent years they have failed to inspire 3rd party developer confidence, they have failed to develop new IP, they have failed to remain the go to console for experienced / hardcore gamers.

          Despite the success that they've undoubtedly had with the Wii, and in capturing the casual market, albeit for a short period of time, they strike me as having failed quite a lot, and it seems to me that they're not arresting that trend.

            well all i can see is you spinning any piece of Nintendo news as a negative. So what if its not as successful as the Wii? Do you think the ps4 or 720 will do as well as the Wii? So who cares if it doesnt get free publicity. Did the 3ds get much free publicity? No and its still selling strong. You only want to twist everything negative so hence my conclusion in my previous comment. As long as its doing better then its competition thats all that matters.

            secondly you use this article about some negative twitter feeds to come to this conclusion. Like i said any excuse to vent your anti Nintendo sentiments. This can article can hardly be used as concrete evidence. Sure people dont know about the Wii U. Sure its not selling as well as the Wii but does that mean doom? You havent even given it enough time to get started. But hey like i said youre gonna spin anything negative.

            finally you gone about some rant on Nintendo failing this and failing that blah blah. The havent failed anything yet of course you like you always do will write them off before they have even started, you havent seen what is instore for the Wii U in the future. youve just said it will fail, cos you feel like it. Well im just pointing that out. Its just an opinion and a pretty bias one.

            So what if the next xbox or playstation are coming out. Yes they will have better graphics, but they had better graphics over the Wii before and the xbox had better graphics then the ps2 and what did that extra power do for the console? nothing the last 3 generation was won by the weaker console. So what if the next consoles have more power, it wont guarantee it will out sell the Wii U.

            Lets not forget the Wii Us massive headstart. by the time the ps4/720 launch it should have around a 5 to 10 million install base. Thats a better proposition for developers then the install base of any launch, so Nintendos console will look very appealing come the next consoles launch.

            Also how long do you think it will take for developers to fully tap the next consoles power? maybe 1-2 years so you wont be seeing a major difference between the Wii U and its competition for a while.

            On top of that how long and how much money will the developers need to invest to get those high end visuals? There are many reports that development costs are going up and the cost of games are staying the same because no one is willing to pay more for games. This is bad news because it means only the few big developers can make a profit while the smaller players just cant afford to compete. This is were the Wii U will be a blessing. If developers can come up with clever uses of the gamepad it might make them a success, where as the next xbox or playstation, success can only come from amazing visuals.

            as you can see i have shown
            1) better visuals dont equal market dominance
            2) Wii U has a massive headstart
            3) even though they have better visuals it will take several years before these consoles can truly show its potential
            4) Development costs are sky rocketing and profit margins are falling which will get worse as ps4 & 720 so far are all about the best visuals.
            5) one more to add is price, sony cant afford massive losses and microsoft cant keep absorbing billions of dollars to launch new hardware. The consoles will be more powerful but if the consoles are going to be price competitive it wont be significantly more powerful then the Wii U, if it is significantly more powerful, expect a heafty launch price tag, & as you know the market is weakening thanks to tablets. Having a US$500-600 will be very difficult to sell to the masses. especially when theres a $300 Wii U that already has a solid install base and plenty of games.

            as you can see i have easily defeated your opinions on why the Wii U will fail. If anything it has a better chance thanks to the head start, all it needs is compelling software that shows off the console, and if they can do that and entise third parties there is no way the Wii U is going to fail. The facts that matter - Its outselling the 360 launch numbers.

              well all i can see is you spinning any piece of Nintendo news as a negative.

              Helloooo. The topic of this article is negative. No spin required.

              So what if its not as successful as the Wii? Do you think the ps4 or 720 will do as well as the Wii?

              How could I possibly know? But yes, MS and Sony will be looking to replicate the success of the Wii. And the PS2. And the 360.

              So who cares if it doesnt get free publicity.

              Nintendo and Nintendos shareholders.

              Did the 3ds get much free publicity? No and its still selling strong.

              Is it? Didn't it have to drop its price significantly due to lack of sales?

              As long as its doing better then its competition thats all that matters.

              Completely and utterly wrong, in every sense. But whilst you raise the subject, what are the Wii Us competitors? 360, PS3? 720, PS4? Smartphones, tablets? Ouya, Steambox?

              This can article can hardly be used as concrete evidence.

              You're right, It's an opinion piece.

              Sure people dont know about the Wii U. Sure its not selling as well as the Wii but does that mean doom? You havent even given it enough time to get started. But hey like i said youre gonna spin anything negative.

              OK, if you're acknowledging that people don't know about the Wii U, and aren;t buying the Wii U then what negative spin is required? Does it mean doom? Not necessarily, but it does appear likely. Although to be fair, it does depend on your definition of doom. Do I think Nintendo will close because of the Wii U? No. Do I think that Nintendo will lose its grasp as a leading gaming developer - Yes. Falling share prices - Yes. Loss of hardcore gamer market - yes. So, doom, no. But loss of credibility, yes.

              Well im just pointing that out. Its just an opinion and a pretty bias one.

              How is my opnion biased? Are you sure you're using that word correctly?

              So what if the next consoles have more power, it wont guarantee it will out sell the Wii U.

              You can't argue that weaker power is a good thing.

              Lets not forget the Wii Us massive headstart. by the time the ps4/720 launch it should have around a 5 to 10 million install base. Thats a better proposition for developers then the install base of any launch, so Nintendos console will look very appealing come the next consoles launch.

              Also how long do you think it will take for developers to fully tap the next consoles power? maybe 1-2 years so you wont be seeing a major difference between the Wii U and its competition for a while.

              Rubbish. You have no way in knowing how long that would take. What we do know is that Wii Us games aren't significantly better (if better at all) than current gen games.

              where as the next xbox or playstation, success can only come from amazing visuals.

              Rubbish.

              as you can see i have shown
              1) better visuals dont equal market dominance

              We've always known that.

              2) Wii U has a massive headstart

              A headstart. To the PS4/720. Is obviously well behind the current gen.

              3) even though they have better visuals it will take several years before these consoles can truly show its potential

              Perhaps true. But I think we can all expect launch games of PS4/720 to be far superior to any Wii U game.

              4) Development costs are sky rocketing and profit margins are falling which will get worse as ps4 & 720 so far are all about the best visuals.

              Didn't BLOPS2 just pull in $500 million on Day 1!!!!! All down to the Wii U sales no doubt.

              5) one more to add is price, sony cant afford massive losses and microsoft cant keep absorbing billions of dollars to launch new hardware.

              Microsoft can, not that it needs to. Microsoft has been massively successful in the gaming market. And they deserve their success.

              The consoles will be more powerful but if the consoles are going to be price competitive it wont be significantly more powerful then the Wii U, if it is significantly more powerful, expect a heafty launch price tag, & as you know the market is weakening thanks to tablets. Having a US$500-600 will be very difficult to sell to the masses. especially when theres a $300 Wii U that already has a solid install base and plenty of games.

              You realise that the Wii U is approx double the price of current gen consoles?

              as you can see i have easily defeated your opinions on why the Wii U will fail.

              Um, no you haven't.

              If anything it has a better chance thanks to the head start, all it needs is compelling software that shows off the console, and if they can do that and entise third parties there is no way the Wii U is going to fail. The facts that matter - Its outselling the 360 launch numbers.

              Its not outselling the 360s current sales numbers. And it really ought to.

              Yes its negative but what are we gonna take twitter feeds as evidence now? Why should we listen to these messages in particular? Thats obvious not everyone is going to know about the Wii U it doesnt mean anything.

              You seem to think the Wii U wont be successful and keep saying that it wont be as successful as the Wii is proof its not a success. I said all it had to do is out sell its competitors and Nintendo will do fine.

              You assume that because its not getting all the free publicity that the Wii got its doomed. Well like i said where was the free press for the 3DS? None, yet it sells well till now. Why should it be impossible for the Wii U to do the same with out this free press. Oh and Nintendo shareholders should be happy with the Wii U its out sold 360 and ps3 launch numbers by a huge margin and its profitable at day one, dont think sony or microsoft can say the same. But yeah lets BS that Nintendos share holders should be thinking the Wii U is doomed.

              So what if it dropped the price? What companies cant reduce the price to improve sales? WTF. And even if it did drop the price did the mainstream media cover it? No so WTF are you on about. You said the Wii U will fail because it didnt get free press, i said the 3DS is doing fine with out free press. So the only thing that failed is your argument

              Doing better then its competitors is wrong? See your completely in denial your looking for anything. The DIRECT competitors are playstation and microsoft. It looks like your chucking everyone in just to help your argument. Thats laughable. Hey remember Nintendo is profitable from day one. They just need to keep producing games that sell the system and their fine, and better if they beat sony and microsoft. Your trying to make it like Nintendo is doomed if it doesnt beat tablets. Yeah how lame, your looking for anything to keep your paper thin argument afloat. Sorry doesnt work like that.

              You said it appears like its doomed, lol you have nothing but your biased opinion, nothing you said, no trends, no facts, no real world sales figures - you have nothing, well you have some choice and random twitter messages as your damning evidence. LOL. You just feel like its doomed, but sorry that doesnt cut it. Loss of credibility? Why? We only have launch numbers to go off and unlike you i compare. 400k Wii U's in one week at launch. 360 took 1 month to get around 200k (US launch numbers). I can conclude that Wii U is doing better then its rivals, but not as good as its predecessor, but that doesnt mean its not a success in anyway.

              Of course the amount of time developers need to fully tap the potential of the console is a rough estimate. But its obvious its full potential will not be displayed at launch. And while the new xbox and playstation will improve after launch, the Wii U will at the same time be 1+ years into its lifecycle and will have improved alot, enough maybe to compete with the early ps4 and 360 titles. Thats all it needs to do, keep close as it can to the next consoles, obviously they will pull away eventually but by that time the install base of the Wii U will be large enough that being underpowered wont be such a disadvantage.

              Rubbish you say? Why? All i hear is sony and microsoft talking about better graphics etc. There is a possibility of them introducing something new but since we dont know all we can go off is that the next console is about visuals. They cant use kinect or move as a selling point, People can get that for the 360 and ps3 respectively. So what amazing thing that the next xbox or playstation have that will make people sit up and take notice other then graphics? Im waiting. Oh thats right all you can say is rubbish, no facts, no logic, just rubbish. I mean what can they do if we assume the control method is the same other then graphics?

              1) So you agree that the ps4 and 720s better graphics wont count for anything in terms of total console sales? Glad we cleared that up

              2) Yes thats all that matters, oh why dont we include ps2 thats still the highest selling console ever. The reality is that there are 3 players in the 'next generation' of consoles, Wii U and the next xbox and playstation. The one that sells the most gets bragging rights.

              3) We will see but i dont expect developers to spend to much time and effort on ANY launch titles for ANY console. Why spend all that money and time on games that will sell to such a small install base. Expect ports possibly polished ones but nothing thats gonna really wow - although sony and microsoft might themselves come out with an amazing launch title, thats not impossible.

              4) You talk about ONE title that cost millions to produce, and is one of the most popular titles in gaming history. Are you going to tell me thats the norm? No what about the hundreds of other developers? Can they even hope to match COD's success, i dont think so.

              5) I didnt say they werent successful, they have been profitable for a while, but lets not forget the xbox didnt make ANY profit and the initial cost of R&D, marketing and manufacturing of the 360 as well as the billion dollars to fix the RROD issues have not been paid off. Also they havent profited enough to cover the same launch costs of the new xbox. Yes they have plenty of cash, but lets be clear, microsoft has a fight on its hands, tablets are now outselling laptops, that means windows influence is slowly waning to apples ipad and googles android tablets, and if it continues microsoft wont have the massive pockets to compensate for 360 and its successor.

              No the Wii U is currently in Australia as low as $299 for the basic. Thats almost the same price as a ps3. Where did you get double the price? The lowest xbox is $199.

              Um yes i have.

              Did the 360 launch outsell the ps2? I arrest my case.

              Last edited 02/12/12 3:04 pm

    Yes, twitter has always been my #1 source of intelligible conversation.

    I love the fact that the very first comment on this post is someone taking yet another cheap shot at Sony, despite the fact that Sony were not mentioned in this article at all. . .

    We get it, you think the Vita is a joke. No matter what you say I am still going to enjoy the Vita. Also seem to be forgetting that Sony was able to make a sizable consumer base for the PSP despite have a little less than half the amount of games available that the DS had. Primarily because the Nintendo Seal of Quality is worth little less than shit now. . . I'd rather take a handheld that has 15 somewhat decent to decent games than a handheld that has 40 but 30 of them are goddamn shovelware. . .

    I know I'll most likely be called a Sony fanboy for this but to be honest I really don't care.

    THQ's U Draw from a couple years ago probably didn't help things out. To the casual observer, the Wii U probably just seems like a similar tablet peripheral for the Wii.

      Yeah I think Nintendo could have learned from the Udraw. A tablet gimmick that initially sold well (on the Wii) and then flopped disasterously thereafter. Sounds like a gimmick to me.

    As someone who works at a retailer, I never once had anyone pre-order one. We starting selling them today, we sold 2.

      The EB Games store where I pre-ordered mine from wasn't able to do a midnight launch at the actual store, so they decided to combine their midnight launch with the nearest other EB store. about 25 people showed up in total for the Midnight launch. . .

      What retailer do you work for? It cant be a very busy one. We had half of our stock preordered and nearly sold out of the rest of the stock in one day. You lose.

        How can anyone lose an one man competition?

          This guy ^
          He loses as the store he works for must not get much business if they only sold two. Was just poking fun. Maybe I should have said he fails, as he is on the "WII U will not succeed" train and that clearly isn't the case based on sales the company I work for has done so far. Would that have worked for you?

            OK. Yeah, an emoticon can make all the difference :P

        Well I work at one of the busiest branches of one the biggest companies in Australia so no I doubt I lose.

    If I didn't know any better, I'd assume the Wii U was just a tablet that you wave around to play your Wii...

      That's actually what I thought it was. A peripheral that extends the capabilities and power of the Wii. Not a completely new one.

      As far as post 64 Nintendo goes, I'm really in the dark.

    the real question is 'he has a wife?' O_O

    You really want me to believe that your wife doesn't know what a wii u is? You're a game journalist, do you not talk to your wife at all?

      I initially shared you skepticism, but then I remembered my partner doesn't listen to me about this stuff either.

    I wonder if these same people went OMG wut iz dis PS2? Izit da same as muh Playstation herp derp? Seriously people. Google, it's your best friend.... OTL

    It's kinda true. We, as people who read gaming blogs, know all of this. Others haven't and Nintendo have advertised it pretty poorly.

    A guy I work with who games but doesn't follow gaming news thought it was a handheld console. A fair enough assumption if you don't read Kotaku/Dtoid/Joystiq/etc. If a guy with a PS3 who plays reasonably mainstream games doesn't know that Nintendo have an entirely new and different console out, why would Joe Sixpack?

    It seems people are getting upset at the fact that others don't know what the Wii U is. It's not like a mandatory thing people should know. And why should they if they're not into games, who cares

    Yeah my mum has a wii and a DS but when she saw one of the Wii U ads and thought it was a new DS that worked with the wii. I think they need to make the actual console and graphics a focus in the ads rather then just the controller, and probably not show the wiimotes in the advertising.

    All the ads have pretty much just showed the controller, so to a lot of the casual market they picked up with the original wii, the controller kind of just looks like a new handheld, and not a very good looking one at that. The hardcore nintendo fans will keep it alive, but they really need to get the casual sales like they did with the last generation.

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