Nintendo Begins Development of Wii U Successor

The next, next generation is coming...

If history has taught us anything, it’s that Nintendo will this year begin the development of the console that will replace Wii U.

This logical conclusion comes from studying the excellent “Iwata Asks” interview series, published on the Nintendo website by CEO Satoru Iwata. Iwata started writing these near-monthly entries back in 2006 to co-incide with the Wii console launch.

The articles give us valuable insight into how the Japanese-based company operates. In 2006, the first article, The Wii Hardware brought together the designers of the Wii console to reveal what it was like developing the then state-of-the-art technology.

Genyo Takeda, General Manager of Nintendo’s Integrated Research and Development Division disclosed the company began working on the Wii console as soon as GameCube was launched, way back in 2001.

“We started developing Wii right after Nintendo launched the GameCube. You know, as soon as we complete one system, we start thinking about the next one.” he revealed.

Pikmin 3

It would be a statement that is echoed a number of times in the Iwata Asks series from hardware developers.

The immediacy in which Nintendo moves on developing the next hardware iteration was best summed up in the article title Two Cameras and an SD Card where Masato Kuwahara of the Development Engineering Department reveals he was assinged to come up with a proposal for the next version of Nintendo DS.

As you’re probably aware, Nintendo DS launched in 2004 and in 2006 a redesign was released; Nintendo DS Lite. Kuwahara explained how the Nintendo DSi project was green-lit.

“It all began when toward the end of 2006 my boss assigned me to work on a new DS and told me to put together a proposal for presentation at the end of December outlining what kind of system we wanted to make.” he said.

“And by February of the next year, we would had to hammer out most of the specifications for the internal chip. We had to move at an incredible pace. From planning to determining the specs, we moved from one thing to the next without pause. It was pretty intense.”

Nintendo DSi was released in 2008, merely one year after the company signed off on a new hardware model.

In 2008, as soon as the Nintendo DSi was wrapped up and ready to roll out, the company started development of the Nintendo 3DS.

Bayonetta 2

Nintendo 3DS had a longer backstory; Nintendo President and Chairman Hiroshi Yamauchi always loved the idea of images popping out of the screen. When he and Shigeru Miyamoto set up a theme park exhibition in 2006 that used Nintendo DS as an interactive map, Yamauchi ordered Miyamoto to come up with a way to have images pop out of the screen.

Nintendo worked on the idea however did not make the deadline and shelved the technology until 2008 when development of the Nintendo 3DS was officially started. Iwata himself reveals as much in And That’s How the Nintendo 3DS Was Made.

So that leaves just one console left that we need to confirm went into development as soon as its predecessor was finalised: Wii U.

Unfortunatly, the example isn’t as black and white as the other consoles described in the interview series. It is there, though.

Yasuhisa Kitano from the Product Development Department of the Integrated Research and Development Division was put in charge of mechanical design on Wii U. This involved development of the Wii U case, the thermal design and other little bits and pieces such as connectors and cables.

One of the engineering obstacles the development team had to overcome with Wii U was designing the system so that it could work when displayed vertically or horizontally. Iwata asked for more information about the debate.

“We on the mechanical engineering team started design of the Wii U back around April of 2009,” Kitano revealed.

“At first, we considered various configurations aside from the Wii-type like horizontal types and square types like the GameCube. But pretty early on we settled on the Wii type.”

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD

While it remains unclear exactly how far into the consoles’ development the team had gotten before the mechanical engineering group was brought in to design the outer shell, the fact remains that between 2006, the launch of Wii, and 2011 when Wii U was first introduced, Wii U hardware development was firmly underway in some shape.

It is for these reasons we are confident in speculating Nintendo’s next console, the one that will replace Wii U, is already being developed somewhere in the depths of Nintendo’s head quarters.

This has several implications for Nintendo.

For example, in the event that Wii U does eventually fail to capture the imaginations of the buying public, Nintendo already have a ‘Plan B’ in the development phase.

Also, Nintendo are in a unique position where they have started developing a new console at the verge of a next-generation product cycle from its rivals, Sony and Microsoft. This gives Nintendo the upper hand in that they can leverage the hardware specifications of those devices right now while they’re still in the “drawing board” phase, and use that intel to come up with ideas that may out-pace the competition.

All they would need to do is make a console that is “better” in the eyes of their engineers than the competition, and design it in a way that games can easily be moved onto their new machine.

Regardless of how Wii U performs over the next few years, Nintendo fans should feel comforted in the knowledge that as long as the company retains investors, they will continue business as usual: making consoles, and making games.

What do you want to see in the next Nintendo console? Let’s give them some ideas in the comments below!

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  • Tynan Muddle

    Sometimes I think “gamers” these days just WANT better graphics. No innovation required. Maybe Nintendo should try to give that to them at some point… at least then they can say “well, we gave you what you wanted, and you didn’t want it”.

    Mind you… that’s pretty much what happened with GameCube…

    • Brad Long

      When looking at sales figures, the NES won despite the Master System having better graphical capabilities. The Playstation 2 won despite having the worst specs of that generation and the Wii won despite PS3 and 360 vastly overpowering it. Yet gamers still think businesses should solely focus on MOAR GWAFIX, ugh.

      Also, Gameboy defeated Game Gear, despite not even having colour, so there you go.

      • Jayden Williams

        The GameBoy destroyed all competition in the early days 😀

      • Tynan Muddle

        So true, you can even add Nintendo DS to the mix, and Nintendo 3DS for that matter, which is giving Vita a pounding in terms of sales.

        But I suppose facts have nothing to do with it. You need GOOD PRESS!!!!! >.>

      • Tommy Dii

        Amen glad someone gets it

      • insaner

        Not true, NES won because it had a huge hold on third-party development especially in North America, which is why they had lawsuits later on. SNES was more powerful than Genesis and won, yes the CPU too is better than Blast Processing because it was designed differently with a cap of 21Mhz, with three layers that could be used within a game (each at 1-3 ghz).

        Gameboy won because of battery and software (tetris). Handheld units failed because of the battery, Game Gear was a battery killer. Had nothing to do with power. If Game Gear had a proper battery system and was smaller in size, it would have killed the Gameboy, everyone of that generation knew that.

        PS2 wasn’t the lowest powered system of the generation it was Dreamcast, and PS2 largely won because of the DVD format and huge third-party support that came along with it. Nintendo didn’t have Namco or Sega or Square day one with GCN.

        Wii was the gimmick that made it win, not because it was low-powered.

        • Brad Long

          You actually made my point stronger, thanks! My point was that power isn’t the be all and end all. I forgot all about Dreamcast, it’s the only system I never owned sadly. D’oh! But thanks for helping :)

        • Will

          Yea you pretty much nailed it, if you don’t have software you lose. Dreamcast, no EA support, Master System and game gear had nowhere near the level of software that rival machines had (Nintendo and their garbage software contracts of the early 90’s and late 80’s). In fact I think the Wii was the first machine to really get away with it because it had a huge gimmick behind it. The Wii U best launch titles were mostly bad ports of games you could already buy on cheaper machines with better libraries of games (PS3 & 360). Making matters even worse they launched with no strong first party titles. I find this amazing simply because even the Dreamcast had an amazing launch line-up. I think Nintendo got a tap bit too confident that people were going to fall for the same gimmick based gameplay again. The next few months should be interesting.

      • LordSouthWest

        You missed out the PS1 vs the Saturn :p
        Also the Sega Mega Drive vs the SNES

        Those bring that age old point into disrepute.

        • Brad Long

          I mentioned the Mega Drive and the SNES…

          Also the N64 had better capabilities graphic wise and the PS1 beat that so there’s that point too.

    • supersmashbros

      I am very happy with the Wii U and now there are more games to chose from so Im happy but i would like to see them continue doing more innovation and really graphics don’t make the game…It’s story and innovation and fun that makes the console and the games But good piece guys and much respect

      • Tynan Muddle

        Even if Nintendo were making the next console, we probably wouldn’t see it for 5 years (unless Wii U totally bombed).

        Actually, I’ll try to find the quote, but Iwata once said about Nintendo 3DS “if it isn’t popular, we’ll just try something else”. I don’t think hardware innovation is something that Nintendo is struggling with, they should be able to whip up any number of consoles at a moments notice, relatively speaking :)

        But you’re right — Wii U is really cool. I really don’t understand the “hate”.

        • supersmashbros

          Who knows but I don’t think nintendo will fail and if the other 2 are really high price than Wii U will get more support

        • wombateer

          The Wii U is getting so much hate because it is seen as a “kids” console, with a gimmick “GamePad”.

          I bought mine day one, and had no regrets.

          People should look back over the years, and realize that graphics don’t make a game, gameplay does. And Nintendo do that very well.

          The Wii U will do just fine.

        • Elbee23

          My understanding is that the 3DS is more powerful than the Wii original, which was just fine graphically, The PS Vita is struggling despite it’s graphical abilities. Who knows what Nintendo would have gone with for a plan “B”. =S

    • Old gamer

      There were 20 million happy GameCube owners (including me), and Nintendo made profit out of it, so as long as Nintendo doesn’t make losses with its consoles, I’m a happy Nintendo console owner (only bought my Wii last year, a wonderful machine, actually I don’t understand why it shouldn’t have even longer legs but gamers are very impatient nowadays). I’m still enjoying playing Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort and discovering homebrew, and my kid loves Wii Music and Cooking Mama! :)

  • Jayden Williams

    I only hope people actually take the time to read this little history lesson.

    You might actually learn something.

    • supersmashbros

      I do wish we could have a awesome 2d metroid game..Now that would be awesome

  • supersmashbros

    Someone said that some games on the wii u can play in 3d does anyone know which. I did find that AC3 does have it

    • Do Dang Khoa

      Yes, wii u can play game in 3D. Of course, your TV must support 3D and you must have a 3D glass

      • supersmashbros

        I have that and i just played it now in 3d very awesome

        • Elbee23

          Are their any other games on Wii U that support 3D? I have a 3D TV and am always looking for new content on it. =)

  • Alvarado Joshua

    Nintendo could make a Wii U 2.0 sort of thing if they wanted to. Better processors and stuff, then sell them next to each other with the right marketing. It works for apple, I don’t see why Nintendo couldn’t find a way. PS4 and Next xbox games could just be ported, and just like PC games, can be scaled up or down for the Wii U and the 2.0. I’d definitely get one.

    I know this will probably never happen, but It would be great.

  • Vladislav Zimin

    where the games? no games…

    • supersmashbros

      There coming and there are alot now..You have to look

  • Lauren Stirling

    I don’t think Nintendo’s big problem is a lack of “graphical power”. I think it’s advertising. I don’t watch commercial television an awful lot, but I’ve watched enough to be confused by the fact that I have yet to see a Wii U ad on TV since it was announced! The same goes for social media. I’m pretty sure I found out about the Wii U through this website, there just wasn’t enough advertising to interest people in researching further.

    There are lots of great games on the Wii U, but people just don’t know it. It’s not enough to trawl through the eShop and read the blurbs or see screenshots of games.

    They need a sustained, dedicated, positive advertising campaign that showcases how awesome the Gamepad is, and how awesome the games are – and will be into the future.

  • Samuel Mungy

    I want a better OS.

    • Elbee23

      You do know that they did a major update to the OS a month or two ago? It has dramatically improved loading times both going to the menu and software loading times between levels.
      Nintendo have also said that this is the first of several planned updates and improvements to the OS to continue to improve the performance of the Wii U. 😉

      • Tynan Muddle

        The original OS version was a good move from Nintendo I think. They probably said “you know, it’s good enough for now. It works. It’s secure. Let’s launch now, rather than delaying 6 months while we wait for a patch”.

        But yeah, Wii U loads a lot faster than PlayStation 3, from turning the power on to paying a game.

      • Samuel Mungy

        Not the speed, the UI. It looks very odd.

        • Tynan Muddle

          It looks like an iPhone (which looks like the Wii dasboard).

          It’s literally the least confusing game console UI around. Giant, square icons clearly labeled. Huge dialogue boxes. Instructions on each of the settings options. There’s nothing confusing about it and as far as UI’s go, it’s extremely effective I think.

          • Samuel Mungy

            It’s not very appealing though. That’s just my opinion though.

  • DannyB

    With the new Nintendo system I would like to see an AMD x86 chip…to get with the program. I hear rumors of a new AMD socket coming out: meaning more powerful architecture. They need to figure out a way to be at least on par or pretty close to par with their competition. They least they could to is make their system extremely easy to develop for and still have decent hardware that’s at least relatively up to date with architecture. They also need to have 1st party titles from day ONE to strengthen their launch titles. That was a big mistake with 3DS and Wii U to not have good launch titles.

  • DannyB

    Also Nintendo advertising seems to suck at life.

  • Seba A. G.

    Why not put more games for the nintendo wii u or the next console but when i mean “better” i mean online multiplayer interactions, like coop, or vs multiplayer interactions