The Wii (iː/ WEE; known unofficially as the Nintendo Wii) 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 2016, the Wii led its generation over the 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 Remotecontroller, which can be used as a handheld pointing device and which detects movement in three dimensions. The console runs games supplied on Wii optical discs. It also supported the now discontinued WiiConnect24 service, which enabled Wii to receive messages and updates over the Internet while in standby mode. Like other seventh-generation consoles it supported a service, called "Virtual Console", that downloaded emulated games from past Nintendo consoles, support for online video streaming such as BBC iPlayer, and other services provided by Nintendo over the Internet. From June 28, 2013, Internet services were gradually discontinued; since January 31, 2019, only re-download of games, system software update, and transfer of data between Wii and Wii U continued to be available, to be withdrawn at an unspecified future date. Wii Points could no longer be purchased after March 2018, and could not be used and were permanently lost from January 31, 2019.
Later models are no longer compatible with Nintendo GameCube. Nintendo released a revised unit in 2011 in Europe, Australia, and North America. The Wii Mini, Nintendo's first major console redesign since the New-Style Super NES, was released first in Canada on December 7, 2012. The Wii Mini can only play Wii optical discs, as it has neither GameCube compatibility nor any 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.
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 the Wii U.
The console was known by the code name "Revolution" from May 11, 2004 when its codename was announced at Nintendo's 2004 pre-Electronics Entertainment Expo press conference in Los Angeles, California until April 27, 2006, immediately before E3. Before the Wii's codename was announced, the media referred to the console as "GCNext" or Gamecube Next and "N5" or Nintendo's fifth major home console.
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:
Wii sounds like 'we', which emphasizes that the console is for everyone. Wii can easily be remembered by people around the world, no matter what language they speak. No confusion.
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:
Revolution as a name is not ideal; it's long, and in some cultures, it's hard to pronounce. So we wanted something that was short, to the point, easy to pronounce, and distinctive. That's how 'Wii,' as a console name, was created.
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. The Wii's successor, the Wii U, was also marketed without Nintendo in its name, although its successor, the Nintendo Switch, brought back the Nintendo name in marketing.
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,Taiwan on July 12, 2008, and Hong Kong on December 12, 2009.