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Wii Reactions: Developers Comment

May 1, 2006
 

Reactions to Nintendo's recent announcement of the company's new console name, "Wii", have been decidedly heated, and the Internet is ablaze with not unexpected urine jokes and Photoshop parodies.

To follow up on the controversy, Gamasutra decided to glean some opinions from some of the allegedly intelligent people currently working within the game industry itself, to see just what the fuss is all about. Respondents included CEO Alex Seropian of Wideload Games (Stubbs The Zombie), High Moon Studios' Meelad Sadat (Darkwatch), and longtime Gamasutra columnist Ernest Adams, among others, all expounding on why we will (or will not) want to worship Wii's branding.

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The name is ridiculous. It is smart to pick a short name with a unique spelling that can be pronounced in many countries. It's also smart to pick something that isn't trying to be super cool and edgy like the "Xbox 360." Your mother or girlfriend doesn't want something called an Xbox 360, but that's okay because they won't find any games they like on an Xbox 360 anyway (beside xarcade, that is). They might be less intimidated by the "Wii" and will definitely find Nintendo games and non-games that sound more interesting than "Madden 2007" and "GTA 2008".

Even though Wii meets many of the criteria Nintendo should be going for, it fails at the criteria "don't pick a silly, awful-sounding name." Luckily, Nintendo's disruptive business strategy and high quality games will be more than enough to make up for a crazy name. I think Nintendo will do just fine this next round, and I'm very interested in supporting them as a game developer.

Last note: if only it were called the GameSphere, and had been designed as a totally impractical spherical console that would roll right off your entertainment center. I would have liked that a Wii bit more than Wii.

- David Sirlin, designer, Backbone Entertainment.

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Yes, it definitely matters what a console is called. Nintendo has just named its console in a way that sounds like a slang word for urine. Or the Scottish word for "small," and by implication, insignificant.

(Of course, it also sounds like the French word for "yes," "oui" -- but how big is the French Nintendo market?)

It doesn't change my personal opinions of the console in the slightest. It changes my opinion of the Nintendo marketing department considerably. Did they even bother to research this? Why do they do these things? What was wrong with "Revolution"? It's bad enough that the Japanese have a drink called "Sweat," but at least they don't try to export it to the English-speaking world with that name. Am I supposed to be happy about having to go down to the game store to purchase the "Nintendo Wee"?

For God's sake, where was Miyamoto? I can't believe he would have let this get by.

- Ernest Adams, game design lecturer and columnist.

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“The Beatles” is one of the lamest names for a band, ever. Ultimately, it comes down to the games, and the content defines the system, not the name. PlayStation was widely thought in 1995 to be an incredibly weak and effete name for a game console!

That all said, I personally really liked the name Revolution.

- Chris Charla, senior producer, Backbone Entertainment.

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Honestly, my first reaction to “Wii” was, “huh?” - but seeing as Nintendo is the only console maker to consistently make money every cycle I think I'll hedge my bets and declare it “genius!”. I don't think the name matters so much, but if they want to set themselves apart from Sony and Microsoft with their name – they just did.

-Alex Seropian, CEO, Wideload Games.

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I want to be a brand consultant and make big bucks coming up with completely idiotic names for things and chuckling all the way to the bank as suits make fools of themselves announcing their new name. Hence Wii, which I will henceforth commence to pronounce as "vih-ee;" clearly it is an Anglicisation of the plural of the nonexistant Latin noun "vius". Just as I insist on pronouncing Glu as "gluh." If it were "glue," after all, it would be spelled that way.

Revolution was a good strong name. Wii is... silly.

Years ago, I had a friend who worked in the banking industry in New York, and had joke names for just about every bank then in the city (e.g. Citibank = Shittybank, Chemical = Comical). Perhaps we need to embark on this for our industry. Electronic Arts, whose first ads promoted actual game designers as artists engaging the artistic frontier in electronic media, might perhaps better be known today as Electronic Serfs, for their treatment of their employees. Activision might be better known as Passivision given their roll-over passivity in the face of the trend toward franchise and licensed titles.

Given Nintendo's hubristic but unintended failure to maintain its control over the console market, perhaps Nonintendo would do. THQ's habit of quickly producing shovelware might make PDQ a better name. Atari can be dealt with by insisting on calling it Infogrames, which is funny enough in its own right.

- Greg Costikyan, co-founder, Manifesto Games.

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It's telling when a product name needs a 150-word explanation. It clearly doesn't stand on its own, and I have to think Nintendo was anticipating a somewhat puzzled reaction in the way they packaged it . Perrin Kaplan's comments to Chris Morris over at CNN Money also attest to that, where she states that the name was revealed prior to E3 so it wouldn't distract from their game announcements. You never want the product name to distract from anything.

Did Wii arise out of a collection of names? Did they roundtable and focus test it? Did the innermost core of the company retreat to the woods, ingest psilocybin mushrooms and carve it into a tree? I don't know. Will it affect the success of the box? In my opinion likely not at all, and certainly not significantly.

-Meelad Sadat, director of business relations, High Moon Studios

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