The Wii lasted exactly six years before its bigger, more confusing sibling, the Wii U, replaced it. When the Wii U dies, it’ll be just a hair under four and one-third years old. The release of the long-awaited The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will be the console’s dying gasp. Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime spoke to Polygon earlier this week, confirming what we’d sort of assumed to be true.
“From a first-party standpoint, there’s no new development coming after the launch of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild,” he said. “We really are at the end of life for Wii U.”
Fils-Aime told Polygon that Nintendo had not yet begun discussions for ending online services for titles like Mario Kart and Splatoon, and said that the system and its games will continue to be sold at retail for some time.
A short, tough life for the Wii U
In the long history of consoles, four years and change isn’t actually a terribly short life. Many of the biggest consoles over the years had about five years of life before they were replaced by a successor or overtaken by a competitor’s newer technology.
But to lump the Wii U in with its ancestors denies the context in which it existed. For the four years the Wii U spent on the market, it struggled for all of them. It absolutely had some banner titles that should be included as some of Nintendo’s very best, but the truth is that one of Nintendo’s most successful consoles was followed by one of their least successful. The system lasted almost five years, but it was five years of clawing and scraping for attention.
Meanwhile, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 sold for nearly a decade each and their successors show no signs of slowing down. During the lifecycle of the Xbox 360, Nintendo saw the Wii go through its entire lifetime, followed by most of that of the Wii U.
Just like The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was one of the GameCube’s last games, so will Breath of the Wild be one of the Wii U’s.