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Nintendo’s getting a little desperate in attempts to sell Wii U

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(Credit: Engadget)

The Wii U's not living up to Nintendo's sales expectations, and that's causing the company to get a bit...creative...with its marketing plans.

Taking a cue from the viral marketing that works so well in the mobile industry, Nintendo is relying on its own older products to upsell its new system, attaching a blatant marketing message to the most recent Wii system update.

"Wii U is the all-new home console from Nintendo," reads a message to Wii owners following the downloadable update. "It's not just an upgrade -- it's an entirely new system that will change the way you and your family experience games and entertainment."

It's an unusual tactic -- and it's a fairly clear admission by the company that it screwed up when it came to naming (and properly explaining) their next-generation platform.

Nintendo hasn't been shy about discussing the naming problem before. Global president Satoru Iwata told investors last week that "some [consumers] have the misunderstanding that the Wii U is just Wii with a pad for games."

It's also not the first time the company has picked on the poor Wii when trying to sell the Wii U. Back in March, GameTrailers host Geoff Keighley tweeted a shot of a retail flyer listing a side-by-side comparison between the Wii U and the Wii. Psst -- you're supposed to do that with systems made by your competitors, Nintendo.

The direct marketing approach is in line with the company's recent decision to primarily speak directly to its customers. Last week the company announced plans to eschew its traditional pre-E3 press conference and instead issue big news to its fans through Nintendo Direct broadcasts.

According to Nintendo's latest statistics, there are almost 100 million Wiis in homes around the world. If the company can convert a good portion of that customer base to the Wii U, it can regain the dominant position it had earlier this generation.

On the flip side, a message like this could be viewed as a desperate act from a company in danger of falling behind as next-gen systems from Sony and Microsoft gain momentum.

Major third-party publishers have already pulled some of their support of the system. Ubisoft made a last-minute decision to make Rayman Legends a multiplatform game rather than a Wii U exclusive, delaying the title for almost seven months. Earlier this week, EA announced it would not be making a Wii U version of this year's Madden -- the first time the game hasn't appeared on Nintendo's platforms since 1991. Yesterday's news of a new Call of Duty game, Call of Duty: Ghosts, didn't include any mention of a Wii U version, either.

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