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Plugged In

Nintendo facing Wii U backlash

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Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime - Nintendo of America, Bob Riha, Jr.

Nintendo's Wii U saw plenty of excitement at E3. Lines at the company's booth for a few moments of hand-on time were five hours long, as people jockeyed to be among the first to tinker with the next-generation system.

But outside of the Los Angeles Convention Center, the attitude towards Nintendo's new machine was decidedly cooler -- and in the days following the show, things haven't warmed up at all.

The most common reaction to the Wii U has been confusion. Is it a new console? A tablet? Another handheld device for the company? And, seriously, is 'Wii U' really the name?

Check out pictures of the Wii U

Shareholders sent the most direct message: they were disappointed. Since the company revealed the Wii U last Tuesday, Nintendo's stock has fallen 12 percent to its lowest point since September 2006.

Nintendo's global president, Satoru Iwata, says he believes investors are overreacting.

"People have never had this kind of experience before [and] they cannot completely appreciate it," he told CNBC. "It reminds me of the situation in 2006, when for the first time we showed the Wii system. At the show, people were excited and enthused about the prospect of the Wii at the time, but as soon as I returned to Japan, I noted the [reaction] there was much different. There was so much skepticism surrounding Wii at the time."

As the stock continued to suffer, though, he altered his stance.

"We should have made more effort to explain how it works," Iwata admitted to IGN.

Analysts agree, and some have gone a step further. Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities, for example, believes the system "is arriving two years late."

While Nintendo has thus far focused heavily on the Wii U controller, there is another part to the system: a console that plugs into your TV, just as the Wii does today. It has high-definition graphics, as you've probably heard, but is otherwise unremarkable. And Iwata says that's why the focus was put on the controller.

"If you ask me what's so special about this hardware, I will say this contains everything you are expecting," he tells Yahoo! Games. "It's nothing special. We wanted something really special - and that happened to be the controller. If there's something I should have emphasized about the hardware, [it's this]: For those concerns people have about the Wii system, we have solved all the issues."

The backlash hasn't been limited to confusion about the system, though. Gamers are curious about what it will cost and when it will be available - two details Nintendo has thus far avoided. All we know is it will arrive sometime in 2012.

And while the company promised high-definition graphics from Wii U, it used gameplay footage from the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 when showcasing third-party titles that will be a part of the system. That's not unheard of given how far out the system's launch is, but to some loyalists, it felt like a deception. (The company did show off native Wii U graphics in one display, though.)

Countless other questions have been raised, including one biggie: How many of those glorious controllers would the system support? Could two people transfer a game of Super Smash Bros. to two separate controllers and keep playing while someone else watches TV?

It took a couple days, but the answer turns out to be "no." The Wii U will only support one of the new controllers at a time. Cue angry forum posts.

By its own admission, Nintendo stumbled in its rollout of the Wii U, but it's still got plenty of time to right the ship, from the upcoming Tokyo Games Show in September to the 2012 Game Developer's Conference next March -- or even at next year's E3, when it will also have real games to showcase instead of tech demos. And despite the backlash, even company critics say it's too early to make predictions about how the Wii U will fare once it hits shelves.

"The system will be either a phenomenal success or a phenomenal failure," says Pachter.

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