|Also known as Revolution (code name)|
Generation Seventh generation
|Type Home video game console|
Release date Wii NA: November 19, 2006 JP: December 2, 2006 AU: December 7, 2006 EU: December 8, 2006 Wii Family Edition NA: October 23, 2011 EU: November 4, 2011 AU: November 11, 2011 Wii Mini CAN: December 7, 2012 EU: March 22, 2013 USA: November 17, 2013
The Wii (/ˈwiː/ WEE) is a home video game console released by Nintendo on November 19, 2006. As a seventh-generation console, the Wii competed with Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3. Nintendo states that its console targets a broader demographic than that of the two others. As of the first quarter of 2012, the Wii leads its generation over PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in worldwide sales, with more than 101 million units sold; in December 2009, the console broke the sales record for a single month in the United States.
- Software library
- Launch titles
- Wii Remote
- Memory storage
- Technical problems
- Legal issues
- Wii Menu
- Backward compatibility
- Nintendo DS connectivity
- Online connectivity
- Parental controls
- Family Edition
- Wii Mini
The Wii introduced the Wii Remote controller, which can be used as a handheld pointing device and which detects movement in three dimensions. Another notable feature of the console is the now defunct WiiConnect24, which enabled it to receive messages and updates over the Internet while in standby mode. Like other seventh-generation consoles, it features a game download service, called "Virtual Console", which features emulated games from past systems.
It succeeded the GameCube, and early models are fully backward-compatible with all GameCube games and most accessories. Nintendo first spoke of the console at the E3 2004 press conference and later unveiled it at E3 2005. Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata revealed a prototype of the controller at the September 2005 Tokyo Game Show. At E3 2006, the console won the first of several awards. By December 8, 2006, it had completed its launch in the four key markets.
In late 2011, Nintendo released a reconfigured model, the "Wii Family Edition", which lacks Nintendo GameCube compatibility; this model was not released in Japan. The Wii Mini, Nintendo's first major console redesign since the compact SNES, succeeded the standard Wii model and was released first in Canada on December 7, 2012. The Wii Mini can only play Wii optical discs, as it omits GameCube compatibility and all networking capabilities; this model was not released in Japan, Australia, or New Zealand. The Wii's successor, the Wii U, was released on November 18, 2012. On October 20, 2013, Nintendo confirmed it had discontinued production of the Wii in Japan and Europe, although the Wii Mini is still in production and available in Europe.
The console was conceived in 2001, as the Nintendo GameCube was first released. According to an interview with Nintendo game designer Shigeru Miyamoto, the concept involved focusing on a new form of player interaction. "The consensus was that power isn't everything for a console. Too many powerful consoles can't coexist. It's like having only ferocious dinosaurs. They might fight and hasten their own extinction."
In 2003, game engineers and designers were brought together to develop the concept further. By 2005 the controller interface had taken form, but a public showing at that year's Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) was canceled. Miyamoto stated that the company "had some troubleshooting to do. So we decided not to reveal the controller and instead we displayed just the console." Nintendo president Satoru Iwata later unveiled and demonstrated the Wii Remote at the September Tokyo Game Show.
The Nintendo DS is said to have influenced the Wii's design. Designer Ken'ichiro Ashida noted, "We had the DS on our minds as we worked on the Wii. We thought about copying the DS's touch-panel interface and even came up with a prototype." The idea was eventually rejected because of the notion that the two gaming systems would be identical. Miyamoto also stated, "[...] if the DS had flopped, we might have taken the Wii back to the drawing board." In June 2011 Nintendo unveiled the prototype of its successor to the Wii, to be known as Wii U.
The console was known by the code name "Revolution" until April 27, 2006, immediately before E3.
Nintendo's spelling of "Wii" (with two lower-case "i" characters) is intended to resemble two people standing side-by-side (representing players gathering together) and to represent the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. One reason the company has given for this name choice since the announcement is:
Some video game developers and members of the press stated that they preferred "Revolution" over "Wii". Forbes expressed a fear "that the name would convey a continued sense of 'kidiness' to the console." The BBC reported the day after the name was announced that "a long list of puerile jokes, based on the name," had appeared on the Internet.
Nintendo of America's Vice President of Corporate Affairs Perrin Kaplan defended the choice of "Wii" over "Revolution" and responded to critics of the name, stating "Live with it, sleep with it, eat with it, move along with it and hopefully they'll arrive at the same place." Nintendo of America's president Reggie Fils-Aime acknowledged the initial reaction and further explained the change:
Nintendo has stated that the official plural form is "Wii systems" or "Wii consoles." The Nintendo Style Guide refers to the console as "simply Wii, not Nintendo Wii", making it the first home console Nintendo has marketed outside Japan without the company name in its trademark.
On September 14, 2006 Nintendo announced release information for Japan, North and South America, Oceania, Asia and Europe including dates, prices, and projected unit-distribution figures. It was announced that the majority of the 2006 shipments would be allotted to the Americas, and 33 titles would be available at its launch. The Wii was launched in the United States on November 19, 2006 for $249.99, and was later launched in the United Kingdom on December 8, 2006 for £179. The United Kingdom experienced a widespread shortage of Wii units in many High-Street and online stores, and was unable to fulfill all pre-orders at its release. The Wii was launched in South Korea on April 26, 2008 and Taiwan on July 12, 2008.
Retail copies of games are supplied on proprietary, DVD-type Wii optical discs, which are packaged in keep cases with instructions. In Europe, the boxes have a triangle at the bottom corner of the paper sleeve-insert side. The triangle is color-coded to identify the region for which the title is intended and which manual languages are included. The console supports regional lockout (software purchased in a region can be only played on that region's hardware).
New games in Nintendo's flagship franchises (including The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario, Pokémon, and Metroid) have been released, in addition to many original titles and third-party-developed games. Nintendo has received third-party support from companies such as Ubisoft, Sega, Square Enix, Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts and Capcom, with more games being developed for Wii than for the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360. Nintendo also launched the New Play Control! line, a selection of enhanced GameCube games for the Wii featuring updated controls.
The Virtual Console service allows Wii owners to play games originally released for the Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo 64, Sega's Genesis/Mega Drive and Sega Mark III/Sega Master System, NEC's TurboGrafx-16/PC Engine, SNK's Neo Geo console, Commodore 64 and arcade games. Virtual Console games are distributed over broadband Internet via the Wii Shop Channel, and are saved to the Wii internal flash memory or to a removable SD card. Once downloaded, Virtual Console games can be accessed from the Wii Menu (as individual channels) or from an SD card via the SD Card Menu. There is also a Wii homebrew community, dedicated to creating and playing content unendorsed by Nintendo.
The game development suite Unity can be used to create official Wii games; however, the developer must be authorized by Nintendo to develop games for the console. Games must also be accepted by Nintendo to be sold.
914.88 million Wii games have been sold worldwide as of June 30, 2016, and 103 titles had surpassed the million-unit mark by March 2011. The most successful game (Wii Sports, which comes bundled with the console in most regions) sold 82.78 million copies worldwide by March 2016, surpassing Super Mario Bros. as the best-selling game of all time. The best-selling unbundled game, Mario Kart Wii, had sold 36.75 million units.
Twenty-one games were announced for launch day in North and South America, with another twelve announced for release later in 2006. Wii Sports was included with the console bundle in all regions except Japan and South Korea. In contrast to the price of $60 quoted for many seventh-generation games in the US, Wii titles cost (at most) $50 at major US retail stores.
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption was promoted as a launch title, but its release was eventually postponed until August 27, 2007 in North America. Satoru Iwata also initially wished for Super Smash Bros. Brawl to be released at launch.
Nintendo has hoped to target a wider demographic with its console than that of others in the seventh generation. At a press conference for the then-upcoming Nintendo DS game Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies in December 2006, Satoru Iwata insisted "We're not thinking about fighting Sony, but about how many people we can get to play games. The thing we're thinking about most is not portable systems, consoles, and so forth, but that we want to get new people playing games." This is reflected in Nintendo's series of television advertisements in North America (directed by Academy Award winner Stephen Gaghan) and its Internet ads. The advertising slogans were "Wii would like to play" and "Experience a new way to play"; the ads began November 15, 2006, and had a total budget of over US$200 million for the year. The productions were Nintendo's first broad-based advertising strategy and included a two-minute video clip showing an assortment of people enjoying the Wii system: urban apartment-dwellers, ranchers, grandparents, and parents with their children. The music in the ads was from the song "Kodo (Inside the Sun Remix)" by the Yoshida Brothers. The marketing campaign was successful; pensioners as old as 103 were reported to be playing the Wii in the United Kingdom. A report by the British newspaper The People also stated that Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom has used the console.
The Wii was Nintendo's smallest home console at the time (the current smallest is hybrid home-portable console Nintendo Switch, when in portable mode); it measures 44 mm (1.73 in) wide, 157 mm (6.18 in) tall and 215.4 mm (8.48 in) deep in its vertical orientation, slightly larger than three DVD cases stacked together. The included stand measures 55.4 mm (2.18 in) wide, 44 mm (1.73 in) tall and 225.6 mm (8.88 in) deep. The system weighs 1.2 kg (2.7 lb), making it the lightest of the three major seventh-generation consoles. The Wii may stand horizontally or vertically. The prefix for the numbering scheme of the system and its parts and accessories is "RVL-" for its code name, "Revolution".
The front of the console features an illuminated slot-loading optical media drive which accepts only 12 cm Wii Optical Discs and 8 cm Nintendo GameCube Game Discs. (Units sold in South Korea and later revisions do not support GameCube discs.) The blue light in the disc slot illuminates briefly when the console is turned on, and pulses when new data is received through WiiConnect24. After the update (including System Menu 3.0), the disc-slot light activates whenever a Wii disc is inserted or ejected. When there is no WiiConnect24 information, the light stays off. The disc-slot light remains off during game play or when using other features. Two USB ports are located at its rear. An SD-card slot is located behind the cover on the front of the console.
The Wii launch package includes the console; a stand to allow the console to be placed vertically; a round, clear stabilizer for the main stand; a Wii Remote; a Nunchuk attachment; a Sensor Bar; a removable stand for the bar; an external power adapter; two AA batteries; a composite AV cable with RCA connectors; a SCART adapter in European countries (component video and other types of cables are available separately); operation documentation and (in Europe and the Americas) a copy of the game Wii Sports.
The disc reader of the Wii does not play DVD-Video, DVD-Audio or Compact Discs. A 2006 announcement stated that a new version of the Wii (capable of DVD-Video playback) would be released in 2007; however, Nintendo delayed its release to focus on meeting demand for the original console. Nintendo's initial announcement stated that it "requires more than a firmware upgrade" to implement, and the capability could not be made available as an upgrade option for the existing Wii. Despite this assertion, third parties have used Wii homebrew to add DVD playback to unmodified Wii units. The Wii also can be hacked to enable an owner to use the console for activities unintended by the manufacturer. Several brands of modchips are available for the Wii.
Although Nintendo showed the console and the Wii Remote in white, black, silver, lime-green and red before it was released, it was only available in white for its first two-and-a-half years of sales. Black consoles were available in Japan in August 2009, in Europe in November 2009 and in North America on May 9, 2010. A red Wii system bundle was available in Japan on November 11, 2010, commemorating the 25th anniversary of Super Mario Bros. The UK version of the limited-edition red Wii was released October 29, 2010, preloaded with the original Donkey Kong game. It also featured the Wii Remote Plus, a new version of the controller with integrated Wii Motion Plus technology. The red Wii bundle was released in North America on November 7, 2010 with New Super Mario Bros. Wii and the Wii Remote Plus.
On July 11, 2007, Nintendo unveiled the Wii Balance Board at E3 2007 with Wii Fit. It is a wireless balance board accessory for the Wii, with multiple pressure sensors used to measure the user's center of balance. Namco Bandai produced a mat controller (a simpler, less-sophisticated competitor to the balance board).
The Wii Remote is the primary controller for the console. It uses a combination of built-in accelerometers and infrared detection to sense its position in 3D space when pointed at the LEDs in the Sensor Bar. This design allows users to control the game with physical gestures as well as button-presses. The controller connects to the console using Bluetooth with an approximate 30 ft (9.1 m) range, and features rumble and an internal speaker. The Wii Remote can connect to expansion devices through a proprietary port at the base of the controller. The device bundled with the Wii retail package is the Nunchuk unit, which features an accelerometer and a traditional analog stick with two trigger buttons. In addition, an attachable wrist strap can be used to prevent the player from unintentionally dropping (or throwing) the Wii Remote. Nintendo has since offered a stronger strap and the Wii Remote Jacket to provide extra grip and protection. The Wii MotionPlus is another accessory that connects to the Wii Remote to supplement the accelerometer and sensor-bar capabilities, enabling actions to appear on the screen in real time. Further augmenting the remote's capabilities is the Wii Vitality Sensor, a fingertip pulse oximeter sensor that connects through the Wii Remote.
The Wii console contains 512 megabytes of internal flash memory, and features an SD card slot for external storage. An SD card can be used for uploading photos and backing up saved game data and downloaded Virtual Console and WiiWare games. To use the SD slot for transferring game saves, an update must be installed. Installation may be initiated from the Wii options menu through an Internet connection, or by inserting a game disc containing the update. Virtual Console data cannot be restored to any system except the unit of origin. An SD card can also be used to create customized in-game music from stored MP3 files (as first shown in Excite Truck) and music for the slide-show feature of the Photo Channel. Version 1.1 of the Photo Channel removed MP3 playback in favor of AAC support.
At the Nintendo Fall Press Conference in October 2008, Satoru Iwata announced that Wii owners would have the option to download WiiWare and Virtual Console content directly onto an SD card. The option would offer an alternative to "address the console's insufficient memory storage". The announcement stated that it would be available in Japan in spring 2009; Nintendo made the update available on March 25. In addition to the previously announced feature, it lets the player load Virtual Console and WiiWare games directly from the SD card. The update allows the use of SDHC cards, increasing the limit on SD card size from 2 GB to 32 GB.
Nintendo has released few technical details regarding the Wii system, but some key facts have leaked through the press. Although none of these reports has been officially confirmed, they generally indicate that the console is an extension (or advancement) of the Nintendo GameCube architecture. Specifically, the analyses report that the Wii is roughly 1.5 to 2 times as powerful as its predecessor. Based on specifications, the Wii has been called the least powerful of the major home consoles of its generation.
The first Wii system software update (via WiiConnect24) caused a small number of launch units to become completely unusable. This forced users to either send their units to Nintendo for repairs (if they wished to retain their saved data) or exchange them for free replacements.
With the release of dual-layer Wii Optical Discs, Nintendo of America stated that some Wii systems may have difficulty reading the high-density software (due to a contaminated laser lens). Nintendo offers retail lens-cleaning kits and free console repairs for owners who experience this issue.
The Wii Remote can lose track of the Wii system it has been set to, requiring that it be reset and resynchronized. Nintendo's support website provides instructions for this process and troubleshooting related issues.
Interlink Electronics filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against Nintendo over the pointing functionality of the Wii Remote, claiming "loss of reasonable royalties, reduced sales and/or lost profits as a result of the infringing activities" of Nintendo. The law firm Green Welling LLP filed a class action lawsuit against Nintendo for its "defective wrist straps". A Texas-based company (Lonestar Inventions) sued Nintendo, claiming that the company copied one of Lonestar's patented capacitor designs and used it in the Wii console.
Anascape Ltd, a Texas-based firm, filed a lawsuit against Nintendo for patent infringement regarding Nintendo's controllers. A July 2008 verdict banned Nintendo from selling the Classic Controller in the United States. Following an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, on April 22, 2010 the Federal Circuit Court ruled in Nintendo's favor.
On August 19, 2008 Hillcrest Laboratories Inc. filed a complaint against Nintendo with the U.S International Trade Commission, alleging that the Wii Remote infringed on three of its patents. A fourth Hillcrest patent (for graphical interfaces displayed on television screens) was also allegedly violated. Hillcrest sought a ban on Wii consoles imported to the U.S. On August 24, 2009 Nintendo and Hillcrest reached a settlement, although the terms were not publicly disclosed.
The trademark application for the Wii Remote was initially rejected by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The USPTO claimed that the word "remote" is commonly used, and therefore should not be trademarked. The USPTO would accept Nintendo's trademark filing if the company disclaims exclusive rights to the word "remote" in the term.
The console has a number of internal features made available from its hardware and firmware components. The hardware allows for extendability (via expansion ports), while the firmware (and some software) can receive periodic updates via the WiiConnect24 service.
The Wii Menu interface is designed to emulate television channels. Separate channels are graphically displayed in a grid, and are navigated using the pointer capability of the Wii Remote. Except for the Disc Channel, it is possible to change the arrangement by holding down the A and B buttons to "grab" channels and move them around. There are six primary channels: the Disc Channel, Mii Channel, Photo Channel, Wii Shop Channel, Forecast Channel and News Channel. The latter two were initially unavailable at launch, but were later activated in updates. The Wii + Internet Video Channel was installed in consoles manufactured after September 2008. Additional channels are available for download from the Wii Shop Channel through WiiWare, and appear with each Virtual Console title; these include the Everybody Votes Channel, Internet Channel, Check Mii Out Channel and the Nintendo Channel. As of October 18, 2010, Wii owners can download the Netflix Channel from the Wii Shop Channel.
Wii consoles with the original design are backward-compatible with all Nintendo GameCube software, Nintendo GameCube Memory Cards and controllers. Software compatibility is achieved by the slot-loading drive's ability to accept Nintendo GameCube Game Discs. However, redesigned "Family Edition" Wiis and the Wii Mini are not backward-compatible.
A Wii console running a GameCube disc is restricted to GameCube functionality, and GameCube controller is required to play GameCube titles. A Nintendo GameCube Memory Card is also necessary to save game progress and content, since the Wii internal flash memory will not save GameCube games. Also, backward compatibility is limited in some areas. For example, online and LAN-enabled features for Nintendo GameCube titles are unavailable on the Wii, since the console lacks serial ports for the Nintendo GameCube Broadband Adapter and Modem Adapter.
Nintendo DS connectivity
The Wii system supports wireless connectivity with the Nintendo DS without any additional accessories. This connectivity allows the player to use the Nintendo DS microphone and touchscreen as inputs for Wii games. The first game utilizing Nintendo DS-Wii connectivity is Pokémon Battle Revolution. Players with either the Pokémon Diamond or Pearl Nintendo DS games are able to play battles using the Nintendo DS as a controller. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time, released on both Nintendo DS and Wii, features connectivity in which both games can advance simultaneously. Nintendo later released the Nintendo Channel, which allows Wii owners to download game demos or additional data to their Nintendo DS in a process similar to that of a DS Download Station. The console is also able to expand Nintendo DS games.
The Wii console connects to the Internet through its built-in 802.11b/g Wi-Fi or through a USB-to-Ethernet adapter; either method allows players to access the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection service. The service has several features for the console, including the Virtual Console, WiiConnect24, Internet Channel, Forecast Channel, Everybody Votes Channel, News Channel and the Check Mii Out Channel. The Wii can also communicate (and connect) with other Wii systems through a self-generated wireless LAN, enabling local wireless multi-playing on different television sets. Battalion Wars 2 first demonstrated this feature for non-split screen multi-playing between two (or more) televisions.
On April 9, 2008, the BBC announced that its online BBC iPlayer would be available on the Wii via the Internet Channel browser; however, some users experienced difficulty with the service. On November 18, 2009, BBC iPlayer on the Wii was relaunched as the BBC iPlayer Channel, a free download from the Wii Shop Channel; however, the service is only available to people in the United Kingdom. On December 26, 2008, Nintendo announced a new video channel for the Wii. As of October 18, 2010, American and Canadian Wii owners can watch Netflix instantly on a channel (without requiring a disc).
The console features parental controls, which can be used to prohibit younger users from playing games with content unsuitable for their age level. When one attempts to play a Wii or Virtual Console game, it reads the content rating encoded in the game data; if this rating is greater than the system's set age level, the game will not load without a password. Parental controls may also restrict Internet access, which blocks the Internet Channel and system-update features. Since the console is restricted to Nintendo GameCube functionality when playing Nintendo GameCube Game Discs, GameCube software is unaffected by Wii parental-control settings.
European units primarily use the PEGI rating system, while North American units use the ESRB rating system. The Wii supports the rating systems of many countries, including CERO in Japan, the USK in Germany, the PEGI and BBFC in the United Kingdom, the ACB in Australia and the OFLC in New Zealand. Homebrew developers have reverse-engineered the function which Nintendo uses to recover lost parental-control passwords, creating a simple script to obtain parental-control reset codes.
The Wii has received generally positive reviews. The system was well received after its exhibition at E3 2006. At the event, Nintendo's console won the Game Critics Awards for Best of Show and Best Hardware. In the December 2006 issue of Popular Science, the console was named a Grand Award Winner in home entertainment. Spike TV's Video Games Award cited the Wii's breakthrough technology. GameSpot chose the console as having the best hardware in its "Best and Worst 2006" awards. The system was also chosen as one of PC World magazine's 20 Most Innovative Products of the Year. The console received a Golden Joystick for Innovation of the Year 2007 at the Golden Joystick Awards. In the category of Engineering & Technology for Creation and Implementation of Video Games and Platforms, Nintendo was awarded an Emmy Award for Game Controller Innovation by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. In 2009, IGN named the Wii the 10th greatest console of all time (out of 25).
The Wii's success caught third-party developers by surprise, leading to apologies for the quality of their early games. In an interview with German news magazine Der Spiegel, Ubisoft's Yves Guillemot and Alain Corre admitted that they made a mistake in rushing out their launch titles, promising to take future projects more seriously. Take-Two Interactive, which released few games for the Nintendo GameCube, changed its stance towards Nintendo by placing a higher priority on the Wii.
At the same time, criticism of the Wii Remote and Wii hardware specifications has surfaced. Former GameSpot editor and Giantbomb.com founder Jeff Gerstmann stated that the controller's speaker produces low-quality sound, while Factor 5 President Julian Eggebrecht criticized the hardware audio as substandard for a console of its generation. UK-based developer Free Radical Design stated that the Wii hardware lacks the power necessary to run the software it scheduled for release on other seventh-generation consoles. Online connectivity of the Wii was also criticized; Matt Casamassina of IGN compared it to the "entirely unintuitive" service provided for the Nintendo DS.
Game designer and The Sims creator Will Wright shared his thoughts on the Wii in the context of the current console generation: "The only next gen system I've seen is the Wii – the PS3 and the Xbox 360 feel like better versions of the last, but pretty much the same game with incremental improvement. But the Wii feels like a major jump – not that the graphics are more powerful, but that it hits a completely different demographic."
The Wii is seen as more physically demanding than other game consoles. Some Wii players have experienced a form of tennis elbow, known as "Wiiitis". A study published in the British Medical Journal stated that Wii players use more energy than they do playing sedentary computer games. While this energy increase may be beneficial to weight management, it was not an adequate replacement for regular exercise. A case study published in the American Physical Therapy Association's journal, Physical Therapy, focused on use of the Wii for rehabilitation in a teenager with cerebral palsy. It is believed to be the first published research demonstrating physical-therapy benefits from use of the gaming system. Researchers say the system complements traditional techniques through use of simultaneous gaming rehabilitation efforts. In May 2010 the American Heart Association (AHA) endorsed the Wii to encourage sedentary people to take the first step toward fitness. The AHA heart icon covers the console and two of its more-active games, Wii Fit Plus and Wii Sports Resort.
By 2008, two years after the Wii's release, Nintendo acknowledged several limitations and challenges with the system (such as the perception that the system catered primarily to a "casual" audience and was unpopular among "core" gamers). Game designer Shigeru Miyamoto admitted that the lack of support for high definition video output on the Wii and its limited network infrastructure also contributed to the system being regarded separately from its competitors' systems, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
An executive for Frontline Studios stated that major publishers were wary of releasing exclusive titles for the Wii, due to the perception that third-party companies were not strongly supported by consumers. In his blog, 1UP.com editor Jeremy Parish stated that Nintendo was the biggest disappointment for him in 2007. Commenting on the lack of quality third-party support, he stated that "the Wii landscape is bleak. Worse than it was on N64. Worse than on GameCube...the resulting third-party content is overwhelmingly bargain-bin trash." The Globe and Mail and Forbes noted that the Wii had few successful third-party titles compared to its rivals (due, in part, to its weaker hardware). Third-party developers often skipped the Wii instead of making games for all three consoles simultaneously ("blockbusters like the Call of Duty franchise either never arrive on Nintendo hardware or show up in neutered form"). Forbes observed that of the most successful games of 2011 (The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Mass Effect 3, Portal 2, L.A. Noire, Battlefield 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3), although all were released for PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3, only Modern Warfare 3 received a Wii version which was also the least positively received port of the game. The lack of third-party games may be exacerbated in the future, as Nintendo faces the "dilemma of having fallen out of sync with its rivals in the console cycle"; Microsoft and Sony would design their consoles to be more powerful than the Wii U. Strong third-party titles are seen as a key sign of a gaming console's health.
The Globe and Mail, in suggesting why Nintendo posted a record loss of $926 million for the initial six months of its 2011–2012 fiscal year, blamed the Wii's design for being "short-sighted". The Wii initially enjoyed phenomenal success because it was inexpensive (due to its being less sophisticated than its competitors) and introduced a "gaming gimmick". However, this approach meant that the Wii's hardware soon became outdated and could not keep up long-term (in contrast to more-advanced rivals such as Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, which are expected to continue doing well in 2012–2013) "as both user desires and surrounding technologies evolved" later in the generation. Furthermore, price cuts and the introduction of motion-sensor controllers for the Xbox 360 and PS3 nullified advantages once held by the Wii. The Globe suggested that there were other reasons for Nintendo's poor financial performance, including a strong yen and a tepid reception to the Nintendo 3DS handheld as mobile gaming becomes popular on smartphones and tablets (such as the iPad).
As of March 31, 2016, the Wii has sold 101.63 million consoles worldwide.
Since its launch, monthly sales numbers of the console have generally been higher than its competitors around the globe. According to the NPD Group, the Wii sold more units in the United States than the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 combined in the first half of 2007. This lead is even larger in the Japanese market, where it currently leads in total sales (having outsold both consoles by factors of 2:1 to 6:1 nearly every week from its launch to November 2007). In Australia the Wii broke the record set by the Xbox 360 and became the fastest-selling game console in Australian history.
On September 12, 2007, the Financial Times reported that the Wii had surpassed the Xbox 360 (released a year earlier) and had become market leader in home-console sales for the current generation, based on sales figures from Enterbrain, NPD Group and GfK. This was the first time a Nintendo console led its generation in sales since the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.
On July 11, 2007, Nintendo warned that the Wii would remain in short supply throughout that calendar year. In December, Reggie Fils-Aime revealed that Nintendo was producing approximately 1.8 million Wii consoles each month. Some UK stores still had a shortage of consoles in March 2007, demand still outpaced supply in the United States in June 2007, and the console was "selling out almost as quickly as it hits retail shelves" in Canada in April 2008. In October 2008 Nintendo announced that between October and December the Wii would have its North American supplies increased considerably from 2007 levels, while producing 2.4 million Wii units a month worldwide (compared to 1.6 million per month in 2007).
In the United States the Wii sold 10.9 million units by July 1, 2008, making it the leader in current-generation home console sales according to the NPD Group (and surpassing the Xbox 360).
In Japan the Wii surpassed the number of GameCube units sold by January 2008; it sold 7,526,821 units by December 2008, according to Enterbrain. According to the NPD Group the Wii surpassed the Xbox 360 to become the best-selling "next-generation" home video-game console in Canada (with 813,000 units sold by April 1, 2008), and was the best-selling home console for 13 of the previous 17 months. According to the NPD Group the Wii had sold a total of 1,060,000 units in Canada by August 2008, making it the first current-generation home console to surpass the million-unit mark in that country. In the United Kingdom the Wii leads in current-generation home-console sales with 4.9 million units sold as of January 3, 2009, according to GfK Chart-Track. On March 25, 2009 at the Game Developers Conference, Satoru Iwata said that worldwide shipments of Wii had reached 50 million.
While Microsoft and Sony have experienced losses producing their consoles in the hopes of making a long-term profit on software sales, Nintendo reportedly has optimized production costs to obtain a significant profit margin with each Wii unit sold. On September 17, 2007 the Financial Times reported that the direct profit per Wii sold may vary, from $13 in Japan to $49 in the United States and $79 in Europe. On December 2, 2008, Forbes reported that Nintendo made a $6 operating profit per Wii unit sold.
On September 23, 2009, Nintendo announced its first price reductions for the console. Nintendo sold more than three million Wii consoles in the U.S. in December 2009 (setting a regional record for the month and ending nine months of declining sales), due to the price cut and software releases such as New Super Mario Bros. Wii. On January 31, 2010 the Wii became the best-selling home video-game console produced by Nintendo, with sales of over 67 million units (surpassing those of the original Nintendo Entertainment System). Nintendo reported that on Black Friday 2011 over 500,000 Wii consoles were sold, making it the most successful Black Friday in company history.
The Wii Family Edition variant is identical to the original model, but is designed to sit horizontally (the vertical feet are still present; however, the front labels are rotated and a stand is no longer included) and removes the GameCube controller and memory card ports although the casing under the top cover stil has the GameCube controller and memory card ports holes with no ports and no slots. For this reason, the Family Edition variant is incompatible with GameCube games and accessories. The console was announced on August 17, 2011 and released in Europe and North America in October 2011.
The Wii Family Edition was made available in Europe, bundled with a Wii Remote Plus, Wii Party and Wii Sports. A blue Wii Family Edition was launched to coincide with Black Friday and the release of Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games on November 18, 2011 and a black Wii Family Edition (bundled with New Super Mario Bros. Wii and the official soundtrack CD of Super Mario Galaxy) was released on October 23, 2011. In late 2012 Nintendo released a version of the North America black edition, including Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort games on a single disc instead of the New Super Mario Bros. Wii game and the Super Mario Galaxy soundtrack.
The Wii Mini (stylized as Wii mini) is a smaller, redesigned Wii with a top-loading disc drive. This model lacks YPBPR (component video/D-Terminal), S-Video, RGB SCART output, GameCube compatibility, online connectivity, the SD card slot and Wi-Fi support, and has only one USB port unlike the previous models' two. The initial release omitted a pack-in game, but Mario Kart Wii was included at no extra charge beginning on September 18, 2013 in Canada and from launch in the United States. It was released in Canada on December 7, 2012 with a MSRP of C$99.99, in Europe on March 22, 2013, and in the United States on November 17, 2013. Nintendo uses this console and the Nintendo Selects game series to promote low-cost gaming. The Wii Mini is styled in matte black with a red border, and includes a red Wii Remote Plus and Nunchuk. A composite video/audio cable, wired sensor bar and power adapter are also included.
It was not released in Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
Nintendo announced the successor to the Wii, Wii U, at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2011. The Wii U features a controller with an embedded touch screen and output 1080p high-definition graphics; it is fully backward-compatible with Wii games and peripherals for the Wii. The Wii remote, Nunchuk controller and balance board are compatible with Wii U games which include support for them. The Wii U was released on November 18, 2012 in North America, November 30, 2012 in Europe and Australia, and December 8, 2012 in Japan.