How to Fix the Wii U’s Name Woes and avoid Confusion

As of now, many consumers are extremely confused about the difference between the Wii and the Wii U.  News articles are mixing them up, Kotaku is writing articles showing hundreds of people on Twitter who don’t seem to know what a Wii U is and even some poorly informed gaming websites have been fooled into thinking the Wii U is some sort of Wii add on similar to the Balance Board or MotionPlus.  So to fix this and make the situation a bit less confusing for future Wii U buyers, here are four things Nintendo should do to stop people confusing the two consoles.

1. Rename the system

First things first, do something about the name. As the article about all those stolen Wii U consoles shows, the media and consumers in general still don’t seem to know about the difference between the Wii U and the original Wii, with the article even using both terms in one place!

And with the same thing happening to the 3DS (see all the complaints about 3DS games not working on the original DS), maybe the best solution is just to give in and rename the system something completely different.

If you want to maintain the Wii name, call it the Super Wii or Wii 2 or something, something that makes pretty clear it’s a successor and not just a redesign or add on.

Wii Mini

Otherwise someone’s getting the Wii Mini for Christmas instead of a Wii U.

But the best option would be to just ditch the Wii brand entirely and call it something completely different. Like how the NES/SNES, Nintendo 64, Gamecube and Wii were named differently from each other and people didn’t confused between them. I don’t know what a good replacement name would be mind you, but surely Nintendo can come up with something both memorable and distinctive, right?

2. Emphasise the system rather than just the Game Pad

This is another issue made worse by the commercials, they mostly emphasise the Game Pad and don’t do enough to show it’s a new system.

Now obviously, the Game Pad should be a part of these commercials. Advertise the asymmetric gameplay stuff. Advertise off TV play. Advertise the use of a touch screen. But also be very clear that this is a brand new console.

Show the new system and point out that it’s new. Mention in either text or narration that the Wii U is a brand new revolutionary games console with HD graphics and new ways to play. Show New Super Mario Bros U, Nintendo Land, Pikmin and all those other exclusives and point out that you won’t find them on any other console.

Do what the UK commercial does at the start and mention it’s a brand new system with a new controller and all that stuff:

Of course, don’t just mimic the above ad, make it even clearer. But in general, make sure people know that this is a brand new system from the ads.

3. Show games that can’t be done on the original Wii

Admittedly, this is a pretty difficult task as of this point in time, since the real big name titles like the Legend of Zelda, Super Smash Bros 4 and the inevitable 3D Mario game are likely at least a good few months if not years away.

But Nintendo needs to advertise the console with these types of games as a focus. They’re already doing well by showing Nintendo Land (a game which is designed specifically to use the system’s various features), but I suspect games like New Super Mario Bros U and in future ones like Wii Fit U might confuse people into thinking the system is just a Wii add on.

Maybe they could get round this by actually comparing New Super Mario Bros Wii and New Super Mario Bros U? Don’t actually mention the word ‘Wii’ in this comparison, I’ve read research that people tend not to remember all information told to them and might only remember a bit of the description so just show the games side by side and emphasise how much better the latter is compared to the former.

NSMB Comparison


Above: Top is New Super Mario Bros U, bottom is New Super Mario Bros Wii.

Basically, show it’s not just a Wii revision by showing games that couldn’t be done on the Wii, or in the very least pointing out the differences between the Wii and Wii U versions of titles.  It shouldn’t be too hard to convince people of the difference if you compare games that look different enough, right?

4. Discontinue the original Wii and all variants of it

Okay, this might seem a bit drastic. Discontinue what was one of the best selling systems of all time? Well yes.

Because frankly, it’s not really selling that much any more and is just causing even more brand confusion. So just stop making Wii consoles altogether, don’t release any new ‘budget’ redesigns like the Wii Mini and for the love of God don’t advertise it any more.

This way, people won’t have much room to get confused. So when some kid asks their parents for a Wii U for Christmas, the parents have absolutely no choice but to buy the system the kid actually wanted rather than getting confused about the differences between the Wii U, Wii, Wii Mini and Wii redesign edition.

wii_mini-2Wii Family Editionnintendo_wii_uk_box wii-box2wii-box2wii-u-box

Mum and dad walk into a store.  Which one of these do they buy? 

Perhaps Nintendo could go even further and rebrand all Wii software as Wii U software or something, further making people think/realise the Wii U is the only option.  Because at the current point in time, it’s just too much for many non video game savvy buyers to even think about.

Think about it this way. Let’s see some kid’s mum goes off to buy them a Wii U for Christmas (because he listed it on his Christmas list).  They go off into a video game store looking for a Wii U, and come across a huge stack of shelves with about ten products with Wii in the name.  Do they buy the white machine with a picture of a tablet?  The black one with Nintendo Land? The old Wii with Wii Sports?  The family edition that looks like a NES?  The Wii Mini (if they live in Canada)?

People don’t like this much ‘choice’, it’s just utterly confusing.  Heck, I’ve seen people mix up Wii MotionPlus and a Wii remote before because the boxes looked similar, God help us to what people will mix up when two models of a new console and three models of an old one are all on the market together.

Cut the Wii out altogether.  Accept it’s had its day and stop making them.  The crowd you’re appealing to is now ridiculously tiny to the point it’s not even worth it (about 500 000 Wiis get sold in six months now).  Focus on the new console, stop making stupid and pointless ‘revisions’ to the old one to appeal to a non existant market.

That’s what Nintendo needs to do if it wants to stop people confusing the Wii U with the original Wii. Here’s hoping they consider some of this before we get people wondering why their brand new New Super Mario Bros U and Nintendo Land titles aren’t working in the Wii consoles…


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