The Wii (pronounced as 'we') is the fifth home video game console released by Nintendo. The console is the direct successor to the Nintendo GameCube. Nintendo states that its console targets a broader demographic than that of Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3, but it competes with both as part of the seventh generation of video game systems.
A distinguishing feature of the console is its wireless controller, the Wii Remote, which can be used as a handheld pointing device and detect movement in three dimensions. Another is WiiConnect24, which enables it to receive messages and updates over the Internet while in standby mode.
Nintendo first spoke of the console at the 2004 E3 press conference and later unveiled the system at the 2005 E3. 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 four key markets. The Financial Times reported that as of September 12, 2007, the Wii is the sales leader of its generation, based on sales figures from Enterbrain, NPD Group, and GfK.
The console was conceived in 2001, as the Nintendo GameCube was first seeing release. According to an interview with Nintendo's 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."
Two years later, 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 By 2005, the controller interface had taken form, but a public showing at that year's E3 was withdrawn. Miyamoto stated that, "[W]e 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 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, with the notion that the two gaming systems would be identical. Miyamoto also expressed that, "[I]f the DS had flopped, we might have taken the Wii back to the drawing board."
Nintendo has attributed the success of the Wii to the Blue Ocean Strategy. Within the context of a Blue Ocean Strategy analysis, the key factors of the Wii reflect the Six Path Framework described within the book. While Nintendo has not publicly released the factors used, it is believed that they include "price", "movie playing", "graphics", "physics", "fun", "game library", and "magic wand". Applying the Four Actions Framework would eliminate movie playing, reduce graphics and physics, raise fun and the game library, and lead to the creation their "magic wand": the Wii Remote.
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 awarded with the Grand Award Winner in Home Entertainment. Spike TV's Video Games Award also granted the console the award in breakthrough technology. GameSpot chose the console as the Best Hardware on their Best and Worst 2006 awards show. 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 for Game Controller Innovation by The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
The worldwide success of the Wii has caught third party developers by surprise, leading to some apologizing 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 had made a mistake in rushing out their launch titles, promising to take future projects more seriously. Take-Two Interactive, who released few games for the Nintendo GameCube, has changed its stance on Nintendo, putting a higher priority in developing for the Wii with Manhunt 2 being one of their first releases on the system.
At the same time, criticism of the Wii Remote and the Wii hardware specifications has surfaced. Former GameSpot editor Jeff Gerstmann stated that the controller's speaker produces low-quality sound, while Factor 5 President Julian Eggebrecht criticized the hardware audio as being substandard for a console of its generation. U.K.-based developer Free Radical Design has stated that the Wii hardware lacks the power necessary to run the software they have scheduled for release on other seventh generation consoles. The online connectivity of the Wii was subject to criticism, as Matt Casamassina of IGN compared it to the "entirely unintuitive" service provided for the Nintendo DS.
An executive for Frontline Studios expressed that major publishers are wary of releasing exclusive titles for the console due to the perception that third-party companies are 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."
Game designer and The Sims creator Will Wright shared his thoughts on the Wii within 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."
Using the Wii is often seen as being more physically demanding than other game consoles. Some Wii players have occasionally experienced a form of tennis elbow referred to as "Wiiitis". A study published in the British Medical Journal states that Wii players use more energy than playing sedentary computer games. It is however indicated that this energy increase is insubstantial, and not an adequate replacement for regular exercise.