Nintendo shocked the video games industry on Thursday with the name for its next-generation console, changing it from the codename Revolution to the official launch name of Wii.
Wii, pronounced “we”, but interpreted as “whee!” or “wee”, in a barrage of derisive comments by bloggers in the gaming community, is meant to emphasise that the “console is for everyone”, said Nintendo.
The company was expected to save revealing details of the console until next month’s E3 – the biggest video games exposition of the year – in Los Angeles.
But Nintendo has earned a reputation as the most unconventional of the big three console makers and let the major news slip out in an animation and statement on its website. A spokesperson also revealed a launch date of the fourth quarter of this year.
That would coincide with the release of Sony’s next-generation console, named simply the PlayStation3, and come a year after Microsoft launched its Xbox 360.
“While the codename Revolution expressed our direction, Wii represents the answer,” said the Nintendo announcement.
“Wii can easily be remembered by people around the world, no matter what language they speak. No confusion. No need to abbreviate. Just Wii.”
But the language from gamers hearing of the new name was hostile and sometimes unprintable.
“I’ll be damned if I am going into an electronics store and asking when they get “Wii” in stock...it’s totally insane,” said Nomad Gamer in a blog post.
“Is it an acronym for What an Idiotic Idea?” asked another, while many made references to Wii and the name’s connection with urine.
The Wii will feature a wand-like controller, similar to a TV remote control, and is the successor to Nintendo’s GameCube console, sales of which fell by more than a third in the final quarter of 2005.