Nintendo announced a new console for our friend the Wii at the E3 Expo on Tuesday. Designed to make gaming a multi-screen, 3D experience, the Wii U™ lets “U” play on a 6.2” tablet with 360° range of motion, as well as interact directly with gamers using their handheld controllers. The test videos of this console are pretty cool (dare we say, revolutionary?) But what about the name? Does it match?
The new console has many features of a tablet including video chat, drawing, and two-person game play. What’s new about it is the ability to add a third element to your gaming experience: use of the screen as a second monitor during a game and the touch screen for new types of controls. If you’re playing golf, for example, you can lay the console on the ground to serve as the ball, use your standard Wii controller to putt, and see the outcome of your swing on your home TV. (See the video above.) Pretty remarkable, considering this is designed to happen seamlessly in real-time.
All that goodness aside, why did Nintendo choose “U”? The most immediate answer is that it’s in line with the developing “Wii/Mii” naming system—Mii is the little avatar used to identify yourself on screen. “U”? You’re the one over there, holding that awesome new tablet-gadget looking thing that’s chasing Mii on screen.
Creating recognizable, simple relationships among products is brand building. Continuing to use vowels and unconventional spellings (certainly not a “me” too) is very much in line with the Wii brand.
That said, “U” has been done, and done a lot. Yet the name gets the point across to consumers and reinforces the message that the Wii puts a focus on people rather than technology. This is a question that we, as namers, ask ourselves a lot: shouldn’t strategy sometimes trump our desire to create something totally new? Isn’t simplicity a by-product of iteration?
Or was this console an opportunity for Nintendo to speak about experience, since that is what it's really changing and competing with? What about the Wii 3D? Modifying Wii with an industry standard could have worked to highlight the experience, but our hunch is that it really wouldn’t have been right for the brand.
Either way, the Wii U™ looks quite engaging. And the Wii Us? We’re pretty excited.