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Nintendo goes 'Wii' ... (not a typo)
As company strives to appeal to mass audience, the Revolution gets renamed: Gamers scream: Why!
Game Over is a weekly column by Chris Morris

NEW YORK ( - Goodbye Revolution. Hello Wii.

Nintendo officially ditched its long-used codename for its next generation machine Thursday, revealing Wii as the final name for the product.

Players will use a remote control like device to play games on the Wii.
Players will use a remote control like device to play games on the Wii.
Goodbye Revolution. Hello Wii.
Goodbye Revolution. Hello Wii.

Pronounced like "we" (or "whee," I suppose), the name is meant to emphasize that "this console is for everyone," Nintendo said in a flash video which introduced the name change.

"The other systems have an extension of their current names; ours is a new leap to something different," Perrin Kaplan, Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Affairs for Nintendo of America, told me. "A lot of thought went into the name."

"Wii can easily be remembered by people around the world, no matter what language they speak," the company said in its flash presentation of the name. "No confusion. No need to abbreviate."

The unusual spelling is meant to symbolize both the unique controllers and the image of people gathering to play.

As it prepares to enter the next generation, Nintendo has taken a different stance than many of its competitors. Rather than focusing on visual and technical upgrades, the company has revamped how players control games, in an effort to reach beyond the traditional gaming audience.

The move has been fairly successful so far. The Nintendo DS, a handheld system that was the first step in the plan, has sold well as has non-traditional games like "Nintendogs" and "Brain Age". The Wii will use a remote control-like device to control games. The wireless unit, using internal sensors, will translate wrist and hand movements into onscreen actions.

How that general audience will react to the name remains to be seen. The core gaming community is already making its opinion known and it's a resounding thumbs down.

"Here, I'll do it: Worst console name ever," wrote Chris Remo, an editor at, whose sentiments were immediately echoed by dozens of users. Forum members on, and other gaming sites expressed similar thoughts.

Kaplan said the criticism was not unexpected, given Wii's uniqueness.

"I think people have to look back and let it settle in," she said. "I'm sure people felt the same way when Google was named or the iPod. Napster. Yahoo. There's a whole host of unusual names that have become a part of everyday conversation and I think they're viewed now as unique."

The Wii will make its public debut a little less than two weeks from now at E3 (the Electronic Entertainment Expo), the annual trade show of the video game industry. At that same show, Sony (Research) will unveil more details about the PlayStation 3 and Microsoft (Research) will talk about its future plans for the Xbox 360.

So why announce the name now and not at the show?

By letting the gaming community vent now about the name, they will be less distracted as launch titles for the system are announced and initial reports about what it's like to play the games begin to come in.

Also, said Kaplan, "We want people to understand our approach before we get to E3. [Also], it's really noisy at E3 and I don't think we would have had the chance to explain how we came to the name."

Want a sneak peek at the PS3 - and maybe Halo 3?

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