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.
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: