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Feature: Nintendo's Wii U Hype Machine

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

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Today marks the start of a major countdown for Wii U, as it's set to arrive in North American stores in just seven days; it's a major event for Nintendo, as new home consoles aren't an overly frequent occurrence. It's been six years since Wii arrived and revolutionised gaming with its focus on motion controls, and now the company will be aiming to have a similar impact with its new console. The big change this time is the introduction of the GamePad and its built-in screen, of course, though Wii U should also be the system that brings Nintendo into the modern era of online and social gaming, through Nintendo Network and Miiverse.

If there's one message that's come through loud and clear, it's that Nintendo seems keen to portray its new system as an evolution, rather than a revolution. The Wii U name is a strong indicator, while the vital role of Wii Remotes, Nunchuks and other peripherals such the Wii Balance Board show that this is an upgrade, not an entirely new era. The emphasis from Nintendo has been a mix of showing its Wii audience that this is an exciting improvement on their ageing console, while telling other gamers that this is a system that delivers online services and the hardcore, HD games that they crave.

Nintendo's marketing will no doubt go into over-drive in the approach to the Holidays and beyond, but below are some examples of the advertising and awareness-building from the company so far, and whether we think it's spread the right message.

E3 2011

Nintendo, perhaps influenced in part by the late-life struggles of Wii, unveiled Wii U relatively early at E3 2011. The announcement, and the concept trailer that followed, may make perfect sense to us now that we know so much about the system, but at the time caused some confusion amongst journalists and gamers. It was clear to plenty that this was a new system with a tablet-style controller, but the message in the presentation wasn't obvious enough to a number of others. Some wondered whether it was simply a Wii HD with a separate handheld also being released that would integrate with the console, and Nintendo had to spend far too long after its big reveal explaining that the controller came with the system and that, no, it's not simply Wii HD.

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E3 2012

Nintendo took a minimal approach to providing Wii U details for practically a full year, reserving many details for E3 2012. The main presentation had some highlights, such as Shigeru Miyamoto and that Pikmin toy, and Reggie Fils-Aime being rather peculiar in the ZombiU presentation. There were some question marks around balancing, however, with Just Dance 4's Wii U demo showing identical gameplay to that already well-known from the Wii titles. Many high-profile third-party efforts were relegated to a brief sizzle reel, while the Nintendo Land demonstration rather ponderously dwelled on the Luigi's Ghost Mansion mini-game, to the point that a few members of the watching Nintendo Life team admitted to "switching off" as it went on. Then there was the big finale — some rather bland CG fireworks — which highlighted the occasional cultural rift within Nintendo; that ending would seem appropriate and fitting to a Japanese audience, but seemed peculiar to the Western audience tuning into E3.

The main presentation was a modest success, without necessarily blowing away expectations. Arguably more memorable was the pre-E3 broadcast that introduced other elements of the system, including the infamous Miiverse skit with Non-Specific Action Figure. The two videos below are evidence that, occasionally, Nintendo can find a certain charm that can make all but the most cynical crack a smile.

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Wii U Launch Broadcasts

As per its normal routine, Nintendo left plenty of details under wraps until late in the day. The Wii U launch broadcasts were saved until mid-September, with videos and presentations from Japan, Europe and North America to confirm launch dates and more. The North American event had a great deal of focus on TVii, as well as a range of launch titles, while the European broadcast focused on games due to lack of an equivalent TV service. Some big announcements did whet the appetite for 2013, with exclusives Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate — including 3DS cross-play — and Bayonetta 2 contributing to a decent buzz amongst Nintendo gamers. Those who love details could look at the bits and bobs included in the boxes of the Basic or Deluxe bundles, while ongoing download discounts as part of the latter option were a welcome announcement.

These broadcasts finally told us what SKUs were coming, and brought good news for those that had consistently demanded a black console to be available at launch. For the first time the launch felt imminent, and Nintendo did a reasonable job of showcasing a variety of retail and download software — both ports and exclusives — to show that the system could have plenty to offer.

TV Commercials

Although Wii U pre-orders are practically sold-out around the world, Nintendo is still drumming up interest in the most conventional way: through TV commercials.

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This first US commercial focused, aside from one brief moment with TVii, on multiplayer fun. Much of the footage showed children and parents playing titles such as New Super Mario Bros. U and Nintendo Land, with some attractive young adults getting rather enthusiastic about SiNG Party. It's pretty clear who Nintendo of America was targeting with this advert, and it's certainly wasn't the Call of Duty crowd.

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The UK debut was narrated by comedian Adam Buxton, and made an effort to show various notable features within a short space of time. It shows the Wii U GamePad's various use of gyroscope sensors and the touchscreen in titles such as ZombiU, while also demonstrating the ability to switch play to the controller while others use the TV. Unlike the US advert, this clearly targeted an older demographic.

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This Japanese commercial attracted attention this week due to its opening, where it describes Wii U as "Super Wii". It's probably more appropriate than the "Wii on steroids" moniker that some of the Nintendo Life team have rather jokingly used, but an interesting approach nevertheless. This commercial shows Pikmin 3, intriguingly, and the emphasis is strictly on the GamePad and its various uses. And, as we said, Super Wii.

We haven't touched on all of the efforts from Nintendo to spread the word about Wii U, as we haven't mentioned the various tours, demo kiosks, expo appearances and this week's Miiverse Nintendo Direct from Japan. As would be expected of any sustained campaign to introduce a new console, it's had a share of positives and negatives, while details about the eShop platform and the extent of the system's online multiplayer capabilities are either little known, or limited to info pages in Japanese. There may be another Nintendo Direct on the way, but with just seven days until its arrival, we don't have long to wait before we can see for ourselves.

What have you thought about these various broadcasts and adverts? Has Nintendo got the message right with Wii U, or could it do better? Let us know in the comments below.

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User Comments (96)



DarkLloyd said:

omg omg omg omg omg omg omg omg omg omg omg omg omg omg omg omg omg omg omg omg omg omg cue the kool aid guy breaking in through a wall omg omg omg omg omg omg omg omg omg omg omg omg omg omg omg smash OH YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAH



gefflt said:

Ooooh, love that Super Mario orchestral piece that plays throughout the Japanese Wii U advert!



Megumi said:

Ugh, this system is going to making me broke for the next month. xD



Mahe said:

Nintendo's hype machine really isn't working so far. Instead of an evolution, the Wii U seems like a devolution from Wii. The game selection they have showed is lacklustre and uninspired. And it seems they have even managed to botch Wii backwards compatibility mode. Keep playing your Wiis, people, until the Wii U gets out from its launch funk - if ever.



Mario-Man-Child said:

Nintendo should have called it super Wii, I like that. Have to say this "switch to tablet if someone wants to watch TV" is the biggest load of bull I ever heard. Why not just play on a iPad if that's the case? The only thing that can save the Wii U is if Nintendo make some killer games for it and when you hear Sigs Myamoto is surprised to hear anyone would want a new FZero, it makes me wonder do they know what core Nintendo fans want anymore.



TrickySx4 said:

@Mahe instead of being a downer. Go join the Microsoft or Sony forums and leave real Nintendo fans alone.



Mario-Man-Child said:

@TrickySx4 I'm playing Nintendo since the late 80s and I am a Nintendo fan but nowadays Nintendo care more about the casual gamer than the core gamer. how many Nintendo consoles have you got ? Are you a casual gamer?



aaronsullivan said:

iPad has no gaming buttons, analog sticks, or control pad, or — oh yeah! — Nintendo games.

Also, not everyone has an iPad and they start at $400 which is $100 more than a Wii U and — oh yeah! — no Nintendo games.

I love my iPad, but I'm excited by what this console offers. Even people who have iPads don't know how nice it is to share what they're doing with others from time to time via the TV (unless they also have an Apple TV).

Nintendo has made a go at the hardcore, but I think they will take a while to convince. The launch line up is the most varied I've seen at any console launch I can think of and I've been an active video gamer for EVERY post atari 2600 launch.

So, it's not going so bad from where I'm standing. Not everyone is going to be impressed right away, of course. As it is, however, it seems like Nintendo is going to have a very hard time keeping up with demand again.



Torchwood said:

It's not that I don't think the Wii U looks amazing, but Nintendo ultimately failed to entice me as a consumer. There's no killer app that could possibly justify my buying the Wii U on launch day. There are better games than the 3DS launch, but everything just seems kind of... lacklustre to me with the exception of ZombiU. Nintendo couldn't even get me excited with their own first party titles. That being said, I'm sure the Wii U will be great, but Nintendo's failure to get me to want to buy it as soon as possible has ensured it will be at least a year until I buy one. I wanted to be excited for this, but I'm not.



Void said:

Are people feeling grumpy because they couldn't pre-order a Wii-U? :3



Dr_42o said:

I love it, I love it, I love it..

I didn't pre order, and I am currently unemployed..
I hate it, I hate it, I hate it!!!



ColdPark said:

To the guys that don't believe in the Wii U's hype have you guys seen Gamestop's waiting list?



Revolution5268 said:

nope, they said that they will email me when they got more wii u, they also said that i got 2 days to pick it up before they give it to another consumer.



Chomposaur said:

Urh sorry for missing anything here but what does that blue winged action figure mean ? ( it looks like something out of robot chicken lol )

  • 19 days left ... Uk Wii U buyer .. Lucky Americans lol


PinkSpider said:

I find it strange that there seems to be no advertising for the Wii U on tv in England at all. I've not seen one advert, I have mentioned the console to people at work and they look at me blankly. Nintendo really needs to sort this out as the console is out in like 20 days (lucky yanks)



Auracle said:

I'm ready for this. The only problem is, that since my Wii U will be delivered, I probably won't get it until Monday. Oh well.
@Mahe - What are you talking about? If you look here, then you will see that Wii's launch titles weren't exactly very stellar. Wii U's launch titles are by far superior and has several unique titles. Also, how has Wii U "devolved" from Wii. Give me one good example.



PinkSpider said:

@mahe how have they botched up Wii backwards compatibility the Wii U can do it, it needs an update that's all. At least it can do it unlike both Sony and Microsoft who didn't bother.



Haxonberik said:

Yeah right, people are grumpy because they couldnt grab a pre-order. I was very close to missing mine. I have to say that the overly exagerated advertisement of the "switch to the controller and keep playing" is stupid anyway given a lot of games need both screens, but thats just advertising and it doesnt influence me.



Haxonberik said:

@True-hero my preorder will be arriving anywhere from the start to mid December. Im not too worried as I just called it a Christmas gift already.



Chomposaur said:

@PinkSpider wow i have had the exact same experience, looking around for the best price i have been to various stores in my aria going into Comet,pc world, Asda living and Tesco and i asked about the Wii u taking pre orders and they looked at me like i was speaking another language

they had no information on the console.let alone what it was. they all referred me to the Wii not the Wii U .. Lol



Phle said:

The American commercial is just /fail. The UK one is actually a lot better. Nintendo could have done a better job with marketing if you ask me. They can't expect that people see all the video content ever made about Wii U, and if you just watch one commercial and one of the presentations they have made, you might end up thinking this is Wii with a new controller and they even fail to show it (the GamePad) off properly!

I have pre-ordered a Wii U and I'm really looking forward to get mine, but if I didn't visit NintendoLife everyday, didn't have a 3DS XL that I bring along everywhere and didn't own a Wii, I might never felt like buying one. I mean my dvd player just broke and it's tempting to get a PS3 and I probably would have if I weren't getting a Wii U. As my DVD player is built in my TV, I should get a new huge TV with DVD player (^_^) That way I won't need another box that has to connect to the TV, yet...



Torchwood said:

Well, recently, yes. I've managed to be excited for the Wii and every handheld (even somewhat excited for the XL DS's), but not the Wii U. I mean, it's certainly really innovative, and I've demoed one at a Best Buy, but I'm just not excited...



PinkSpider said:

I'm a little curious as to people's big problem with playing on the game pad instead of the tv I live with my girlfriend who likes to watch tv in the evening so I have to pull out a small tv which means loads of hassle. The game pad screen is a fantastic feature.
One of Nintendo's best ideas I don't have to worry about plugging in a second tv now. To be honest I don't play my Xbox anymore got fed up with Microsoft charging online prices, and so so bored of call of duty, which seems to be the only game my friends ever play. Roll on awesome Nintendo franchises



TrickySx4 said:

@BestBuck123 picked up my NES in 1988 and still own every system as an avid gamer and collector. I disagree that Nintendo has only catered to casuals. While the Wii wasn't as great as I hoped, they did a fantastic job getting the Nintendo brand in more households than ever, and I totally expect them to redeem themselves with the Wii U and the core gamer.



Klunk23 said:

I'm acctually really exited to get a Wii U. I propally wont get one for a couple of month but everything new about the wii U seem really cool. And I can't wait till they anounce a fire emblem for the Wii U. It will happen, i know it will.



sinalefa said:

Yeah, I hope people do not get hyped by Wii U at launch. I hope they just leave them in the shelves.

So I can buy one as I could not preorder it!!! I blame Amazon for this!!!

Seriously, I still do not see a killer app, but I don't buy my consoles for just one game, no matter how amazing. And things like Zombi U, Wonderful 101 and Pikmin 3 look great.

And if local stores here don't charge their usually bloated prices, I might be able to get one at launch. If not, I will wait. But I know I will go insane if they announce the new Zelda before I get one.



Klunk23 said:

So i've gotta say that out of all the commercials i like the japenese one the best. Because it's shortet, but it not only shows games but also the different softare things such as the internet broser and othing things. The European one is second because it shows more games than the american one. Though i like the American one and have seen it quite a few times, it doesn't show off the wii u's wide range of games. You think they would show the more violent games seeing as we americans seem to be violent people and enjoy shooting things in the.



TwilightV said:

The US ad got me pumped for the release. I found the UK ad informative but boring.

Also, i'm pretty sure it's Nonspecific, as proven by the tags for his debut trailer.



Lunapplebloom said:

One single week left and I am stoked. Just found out as well that Toys R Us will be having a buy one get one 40% off on all Wii U games this Black Friday. I'm tempted to maybe try my luck to save a few bucks.



arrmixer said:

I'm still curious as to why some nintendo followers are not hyped about this new console... Also, I will say again the american commercial is perfect for people (who are not regulars of this site or any other gaming site) who have no idea about wii u...
The retail presentations were definitely a good play.. I was playing the rayman demo at gamestop and had seniors and older adults like myself "wanting" to play with me...even had an old lady tell me when to jump during the rock stage..pretty kool...
That's saying alot.. to me that is what I would want...I want everybody to enjoy the same excitment I'm enjoying...
I personally feel all the so called hardcore gamers need to "relax" and "enjoy"... I'm a atari/commodore guy and I'm not up tight.......



GameLord08 said:

@Mahe: A lacklustre line-up of games? Gaming may be defined as subjective, but that statement is dangerously near pure ignorance. As for Nintendo "botching" backwards compatibility, I don't see any justification to this perception. The Wii U merely needs a firmware update to play Wii games, and it's essentially compatible with all Wii games, accessories and peripherals; if that is "botching it up", then I have nothing to say to you.



TheRealThanos said:

@ all the negative whiners:
Read the article again and find the sentence "Nintendo can find a certain charm that can make all but the most cynical crack a smile."
Well, I guess they're talking about you...

I'm done with all the negativity and nagging and whining about the GamePad not being that innovative and the 'switch to GamePad' play mode being commented on in a bad way, ranging from 'not very interesting' to 'totally ridiculous' and then these same comments go on trying to explain (and failing to do so in a BIG way) that if they want to let somebody else watch TV, they'll use another TV, or as was mentioned in the comments here they'll use their iPad/tablet.
If you people don't know what's wrong with that, then you just don't get the simple brilliance that this concept offers, so there's no use in trying to explain it to you, because you're missing the point and will probably continue to do so until someone hits you in the face with a reality check.

I'm very sorry if I offend or insult anyone here, that was definitely not what I tried to achieve with this rant, but I just had to get this off my chest because, like I already said at the beginning of my comment, I'm just so tired of all the negativity, especially since most info is second hand and not from own experience as far as this new console is concerned, so the comments are often based solely on that.

On a final note I want to say that I was also rather negative in the beginning when the Wii U was first unveiled, because besides the idea of an HD Zelda there wasn't very much that caught my attention.
After that my opinion slowly changed to positive with each little bit of news and explanation of what they were trying to do, and now I'm outright enthusiastic and actually think that they are bringing something new that is, as was rightly so mentioned in the article, an evolution rather than a revolution and that's not half as bad as some people make it out to be, therefore I have faith in this console and what it's going to offer.



ajcismo said:

The only thing keeping me from going out of my mind right now is B&W2 and Paper Mario. Even the wife wants to come with to midnight launch in 6 days. (She's currently doing her first Ocarina of Time play through, just getting through the Water Temple as I write this... how cool is that?).
Honestly I haven't been this excited about a console launch since the N64, and that sucker only had 2 games.



TysonOfTime said:

In America, information doesn't sell products. Imagery does. The US commercial does its job.

Anyways, I just came back from stumbling into a GameStop with a demo unit.
Played Rayman Legends.

It was the most fun I've had all month. Playing a Demo for that game. I'm 110% excited for the launch now.



hendie001 said:

Where i live the walmart has tons of pre orders left. Its like know one knows about it. Thats alright more for mii. :>



GameLord08 said:

TysonQ7 wrote:

In America, information doesn't sell products. Imagery does. The US commercial does its job.

It depends on the target audience. The US commercial is best suited to those not very familiar with mainstream gaming, i.e. the casuals. As an avid gamer, seeing this commercial alone would definitely not convince me to be interested in a Wii U.



Boo_Buster said:

I'll get NSMBU and ZombiU along with the included Nintendo Land on launch day... but Scribblenauts Unlimited is looking really good as well. 4 completely worthy games at launch is pretty great in my eyes. I think once people start hearing positive remarks on the Wii U it will become another solid selling Nintendo console.



Radixxs said:

@TysonQ7 Just voicing my opinion, Rayman Legends looks amazingly stunning in GameStop. Just not too excited. I do enjoy sarcastic, attitude laden remarks though.



Ichiban said:

Man im so glad I finished paying off my Wii U last Thursday, the following night I had a night on the town & was a bit poor afterwards!



Hokori said:

Who honestly says WiiU has less then the wii at launch? Yes no Zelda but that's it and besides Zelda was a GCN title.
Mario replaced Zelda as a launch title, but at least this is a new Mario game and not a wii GCN remake



DarkNinja9 said:

im ready im ready starts the spongebob song xDD but yeah just one more week till we go all crazy to the store and all D:



TysonOfTime said:

I said 'cool' because you directed your statement at me for no discernible reason. Unless of course you just sincerly wanted me to know.

What I mean is, what would sell more units, something that it makes it look cool, or something that tells you what it is?
I feel like the cool factor is more appealing to consumers than an informative commercial. Once interested they can futher research the product.

Then again the Japenese commercial seems to be the best one by far.



kyuubikid213 said:

I have been ready for the Wii U since E3 2011. E3 2012 made me want to buy one. The recent Nintendo Directs made me actually purchase one. And the GameStop Demo got my hype meter way up.

The Wii U is making me so excited. Can't wait...just one week left....



TysonOfTime said:

Anyways, I'm like morally obligated to be excited, since I was hyped as all heck for the 3DS's launch, and that had nothing special in terms of titles going for it at the time.



itsanandito said:

Less than a week to go now! The excitement is building up for me! Hope the required update doesn't take too long.



GreenDream said:

I'll wait until a substantial catalog of RPG's come out before getting it... my backlog of classics is too big on PC and older console systems, and (eventually) getting a 3DS XL and PS3 would be enough for me. Ni no Kuni and a host of other RPG releases are on PS3, not on Wii U at the moment...

I'll still test Wii U out at Best Buy, though... Waiting for Dragon Quest 10, Monster Hunter 4, Pikmin 3, The Wonderful 101, Toki Tori 2, and hopefully some new game ideas not available elsewhere.



Hokori said:

The one thing that annoys me is the "fans" say it's the worst Nintendo launch, but I think it's one of the best, compare to the others systems, especially GCN, Wii, DS, 3DS, N64, SNES, GB, GBA, NES it's at least 2nd best maybe (with SNES being best)



triforcepower73 said:

Their E3 2012 approach makes a whole lot more sense now. And preorders are sold out so no one can say they did a bad advertising job.



GreenDream said:

@HarmoKnight I'd say the worst major Nintendo console system launch was the Gamecube. It had good games, interesting peripherals, and I liked it (and still have it + like it), but it got completely smoked by the PS2 and Dreamcast. (Or at least, the Dreamcast would have, if Sega of America hadn't ruined it...)



Trikeboy said:

@BestBuck123 Really? I think Nintendo did a great job of catering to both the casual gamers and the core gamers with Wii. I have been gaming with Nintendo since 1993 when I won my SNES in a Jurassic Park Weetabix competition (proudest moment when I got that in Asda). Ever since then, despite buying other consoles, I have been a loyal Nintendo customer and have never regretted my love for the big N. I will buy any console Nintendo release because I know they stand for quality.



Trikeboy said:

@HarmoKnight Wii U probably has one of the strongest launches. The N64 had a bad launch. It only 3 games at launch, Super Mario 64, Pilot Wings and Star Wars Shadows of the Empire. Gamecube launced with few games but they were great ones. Luigi's Mansion, Star Wars Rogue Leader and Wave Race, with Super Smash Bros Melee a couple of weeks later along with a few others. It is just disappointing that PS2 and DC came out first and took most of the market.



GreenDream said:

I remember when a lot of people were saying Xbox was dead in the water... only saved because of Microsoft...



SheldonRandoms said:

I'm really excited for the Wii U, and my avatar shows that.

Also, i'm new to Nintendolife, I've been reading articles,reviews and other things here since 2009, but now I got an account here



Zombie_Barioth said:

Nintendo has taken a lot of flak for the Wii but at the same time it still sold millions and gave them a chance to sit back and watch MS and Sony. They got to take note of what did or didn't work and their mistakes then apply it to Wii U.

That being said I'm excited for Wii U and what it brings to the table but I'm still kinda worried about the emphasis on asymmetric gameplay and the gamepad overshadowing the Wiimote. Most of my Game time is spend solo.

The only games I'm interested in are MH3U and Pikmin 3 so I'll wait till March, and like @GreenDream I have a nice backlog to keep me busy still.



Ichiban said:

@Trikeboy N64 had a much more impressive launch if you ask me. Even though the games were very few, each one was absolutely jaw dropping for its time. You can't compare Mario's 3D debut to anything the Gamecube had at launch, as awesome as it was. It was the beginning of a whole new era in gaming. Wave Race 64 with its stunning water physics was also a total mind blow. Ditto to the N64 controller itself!



MAB said:

@Phle Just buy another HDTV and use one for program viewing and the other for gaming works for me and then there is no need to switch to the gamepad when your significant other wants to watch the idiot box.



FluttershyGuy said:

I don't know why they didn't officially name it Super Wii. It would've harkened back to the days of the Super NES, and that would certainly be a good thing toward selling long-time Nintendo gamers on the system. Wii U is a headscratcher of a name.



Araknie said:

I have to wait 18 days only! It's amazing, it's finally a console release that will not have gaps between regions.
All in the same month, i don't know how they managed that.



Trikeboy said:

@MeowGravy I agree that Super Mario 64 was fantastic. It was the only game I had on it for ages. I was just pointing out that the N64 launched with only 3 games (2 in the US) and out of them, only 1 was groundbreaking. Pilotwings was OK and the only decent part of Shadows of the Empire was the first level. The system seller on Gamecube was undoubtedly Rogue Leader but I do agree it didn't have a game with the quality of Mario 64. Wii U will have a strong launch with plenty of games so there is something for everyone.

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