Did Nintendo make a huge branding mistake with the Wii U?

I will be the first to admit that I am a long-time Nintendo fan. I can still remember getting the original Nintendo for Christmas when I was a kid (yes, I’m old) and from my first game of Super Mario Bros I was sold. At that time Nintendo had literally resurrected gaming console market and paved the way for a new generation of gaming at home.

Nintendo followed-up their original NES system with another massive hit, the Super Nintendo. Then came my personal favorite (or at least the console I played the most) the Nintendo 64, which was followed by the GameCube, and then the Wii. Of course, Sony and Microsoft joined the race for the living room and as time went by Nintendo’s dominance began to erode.


Nintendo really tried to out-innovate Sony and Microsoft with the Wii but it may have been too little too late. Enter Nintendo’s latest system and a console meant to get Nintendo back in the game (pun intended) – the Wii U.

Here’s the problem. When it comes to branding a new console, Wii and Wii U really don’t sound like two very different things. The GameCube sounded cool and futuristic, Wii was new and different, but adding a U to the end really doesn’t make me think of a next-generation console.

The sales numbers for Nintendo’s latest console haven’t been great and while you can’t blame it all on a the branding I do think that is somewhat responsible for the lack of buzz around the Wii U. It just doesn’t sound like a new system and if you’re not plugged-into the console world (which I’m not any more) then you could easily miss that it even came out.

I actually had no idea that the Wii U was different from the Wii but stumbled on an article a few weeks ago talking about it and started scratching my head.

So here’s my question to you – did Nintendo make a huge branding mistake here?



{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Mark Murphy November 11, 2014, 11:23 pm

    Hey Morgan,

    You have already done a better job of marketing the Wii U to me (The Chuckle Brothers just sprung to mind when typing that), as that is the first I have heard of it!

    The new console name doesn’t really grab my attention either. It will be interesting to see the Christmas after-sales figures for Micro$oft, Sony and Nintendo.

    About showing your age Morgan, I can go back a little further to the Atari 800 / Atari 2600 =)


  • Luc November 12, 2014, 9:07 am


    Another Nintendo fan here man. I have almost every NES game ever made (US games that is), minus the really expensive ones like Nintendo World Championship. I also have the Atari 2600 Mark 🙂

    The Wii U was horrible. I have it. Very disappointing. More issues with it than I can list, and the most annoying is you have to use the big screen/gamepad thing for just about every app. The problem is, if you use it for netflix, or amazon it dies in the middle of a movie because the big screen always stays on. It freezes a lot. Hulu is always breaking on it. Forced updates that disable the system for 45+ minutes even on fast connections. BS TOS that you have to agree to every time an update is issued, etc.

    Game innovation also sucked. I really wanted more side scrolling Super Mario games. They were complete rip offs of the original Wii games and I passed them all in just a few days (vs few weeks with the original Super Mario for Wii). The only decent one was Super Mario 3D World. It was definitely worth the money, but not a sidescroller. But that’s one game.

    Nintendo is slipping. All of the Wii U games I’ve tried sucked. I know its a console for kids, but so was the NES, SNES, N64, etc and they are still enjoyable. Shape up Nintendo!


  • Sean Berry November 12, 2014, 12:20 pm

    Hello Morgan,

    Huge branding mistake or not, Nintendo just can’t compete with the likes of Sony or Microsoft. I think the Wii did the opposite of what they were expecting. Non-gamers loved the idea of the Wii. The Wii and it’s Wii Remote controller was a hit for them. Easy to use and fun. Was there a party or get together that you went to where the host didn’t entice every body to engage and play Wii Sports? It was good, but unfortunately I believe that’s the only impact it had for most people. Hard core gamers weren’t going to spend 30-40 hours per game in front of a Wii or Wii U. Which is too bad because the Wii U has all of the right features. You can download and watch movies, connect, share and be social…it’s all there. The games on the other hand just don’t measure up. I mean we all love Super Mario…don’t get me wrong. But gamers who want a true next gen experience aren’t turning to Nintendo. They want a beefier console with beefier games. Now the introduction of the Wii U GamePad was interesting. A controller with touch screen capabilities raised a few eyebrows, but I think a more complicated controller kept the non-gamers away and still just wasn’t enough to attract traditional gamers.

    Hopefully Nintendo has a few more tricks up their sleeve. They need a true next gen console that stands out and delivers. Ditch the Wii angle and be more aggressive with their advertising. Just look at the great ads for PlayStation and X-Box. I don’t remember the last Nintendo ad I saw. Next, 86 the GamdPad. No need to reinvent the wheel fellas. And last, but not least, put out great games for everyone to enjoy.



  • Semih November 14, 2014, 6:56 am

    This is what i would day a year ago.

    At first, i thought wii u is just a new controller. Like classic Controller.
    And i am a Zelda fan.

    I shocked when i sae the rest of the Console. The controller is the only think they showed as a new think.


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