Technology & Science

New Nintendo Wii U console off to rough start

Nintendo's new Wii U game console hit the stores Sunday, but it's been an unhappy landing for some buyers.

Some reports say interrupting firmware update leads to 'bricked' device

A fan purchases one of the first Wii U systems at the midnight launch event at Nintendo World in New York on Sunday. There have been reports that slow firmware updates may have led to trouble with some machines. (Nintendo/Anders Krusberg/AP Photo)

Nintendo's new Wii U game console hit the stores Sunday, but it's been an unhappy landing for some buyers.

A firmware update necessary for online gaming takes so long to download that some people are interrupting the process out of frustration — which in turn has led to some media reports of the device being "bricked," or broken irretrievably.

Los Angeles Times reporter Ben Fritz tweeted that when he tried to cancel a lengthy firmware update, he ran into problems.

"Wii U has stopped functioning before I managed to play a single game," he tweeted. "I tried to stop an interminable software update and now … nothing. On a related note, anybody in the market for a big black paperweight?"

He wasn't alone.

In Canada, a Nintendo spokesman urged people to be cautious with firmware updates.

"System updates for Wii U are important, and we highly recommend that any Wii U owner does not stop the system update while in progress," said communications manager Matt Ryan in an email.

"It may take an hour or more to perform the first system update — the time required depends on the speed of your internet connection. Powering off the console during the update may damage your system."

Nintendo has pinned its hope on the Wii U as a game machine designed to appeal both to the original Wii's casual audience and to the hardcore gamers who skip work to be among the first to play the latest Call of Duty release.

Just like the Wii U's predecessor, the Wii, which has sold nearly 100 million units worldwide since 2006, the new console's intended audience "truly is 5 to 95," according to Reggie Fils-Aime, the president of Nintendo of America, the Japanese company's U.S. arm.

The update enables features on the console, including Miiverse, Wii U Chat, the eShop, and the ability to download video-on-demand applications, Ryan said.


  • An earlier version of this story attributed remarks from Nintendo to a spokeswoman, based on information provided by its public relations agency. In fact, the remarks came from Nintendo of Canada's communications manager Matt Ryan.
    Nov 21, 2012 1:00 AM ET

With files from The Associated Press