Nintendo of Japan reports that production of the original Wii console has ended, thus concluding just shy of seven years after the console first appeared in November 2006. The company hinted to the console's end earlier this month, reporting that manufacturing was scheduled to "end soon." Replacing this model is the Nintendo Wii U, which arrived in November 2012 in North America, a whole year before Microsoft's Xbox One and Sony's PlayStation 4.
As of June 30, 2013, Nintendo sold 100.04 million Wii units worldwide, making it the company's bestselling console thus far, and its third bestselling device behind the Game Boy and the Nintendo DS handhelds. The company's secret formula for the Wii is the Wiimote motion controller, a first in the console market, which led to "copycats" from Microsoft and Sony like the popular Kinect and the Move wand-like controller, respectively.
However, unlike Microsoft and Sony, Nintendo stayed with standard definition and seemingly focused more on gameplay and its first-party titles. The company proved that innovation can be more important than HD graphics, and made the smart move by throwing in Wii Sports as part of the Nintendo package. Right out of the box, gamers can bowl, play tennis, hit baseballs and punch out virtual opponents, friends and family using additional Wii remotes: an intelligent, fun introduction to motion-based gaming.
As CVG points out, the console's success is also powered by first-party titles from Nintendo including the Super Mario Galaxy titles, Wii Fit, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Mario Kart Wii, the Metro Prime Trilogy, Donkey Kong Country Returns, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and New Super Mario Bros Wii. There are also great third-party hits like Dead Space Extraction, Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition, Monster Hunter Tri, Red Steel 2 and Sonic Colors.
Unlike the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 (except for the very first 20GB and 60GB models), the Nintendo Wii is backwards compatible, meaning gamers can insert Gamecube discs into the newer console and play; the Microsoft and Sony consoles merely provide digital downloads of older games. The Nintendo Wii also provides a Virtual Console for playing older, classic titles from the likes of the NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, TurboGrafx 16 and more. Wii owners can even create playable "Mii" avatars of themselves, an idea that seemingly sparked the launch of Microsoft's own avatars in the New Xbox Experience UI overhaul back in November 2008.
Nintendo certainly changed the way console gamers play with the introduction of the Wii, and inspired the two other console companies to rethink their boxes in the process. Nintendo beefed up both the hardware and motion-sensing backbone in its Wii U console launched last year, introducing a tablet-like motion sensing controller with its own screen. So far the next-generation device hasn't captured the audience quite like the Wii did, selling 3.61 million units as of June 30, 2013. How this console will survive when the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 arrive next month remains to be seen.
UPDATED: Nintendo of America reports that the Wii will still be offered in North America. The halt in production pertains only to Japan.