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May 14, 2006

Product Naming: Nintendo's Wii Naming Criteria

A Saturday, May 13 Seattle Times interview with Nintendo's President Satoru Iwata, provides some interesting insights to his reaction to the product name when it was first presented to him, and his name criteria for selecting it.

Mr. Iwata's reaction to the Wii name was "This is it. At the same time, I thought that Wii would probably have some controversy."

Wii LogoIn a nutshell, Mr. Iwata's name criteria were

  • Short so it would not need a nickname or abbreviation
  • Appealed to both existing and potential gamers
  • Memorable as soon as it was heard

In the interview, Mr. Iwata is asked what he thought of the name Wii the first time he heard it.

I saw Wii as one candidate among many others, but the name Wii captured my attention so strongly, I thought, "This is it." At the same time I thought that probably Wii would have some controversy.

There were some criteria for us to come up with the name. It had to be short enough so that we didn't need any other nicknames or abbreviation. What we are targeting with Wii is not only existing gamers, but also people who have shown no interest in other games. These nongamers, for example, really cannot understand what GBA means, if GBA is something different from Game Boy Advance. We wanted something with a strong impact that people will remember as soon as they hear it.

Finally, we wanted a name unlike any video-game machines.

As you can see, Mr. Iwata did not have pronounceability as one of his name criteria, although earlier press releases claimed it was pronounecable in all languages. We disputed that in our April 30 Wii product naming blog post.

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Posted by William Lozito at May 14, 2006 1:34 PM
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