The Wii U is Nintendo's successor to the Wii, it was first seen during Nintendo's E3 2011 Conference. One year later, it launched on November 18, 2012 in North America. It is the first 8th Generation console beating Playstation and Xbox in the next generation race.
There were two versions of the Wii U during the launch; the 8 GB Basic Set (White) and 32 GB Deluxe Set (Black). The Wii U is quite a capable console and is filled with incredible features.
The root of the problem with the Wii U is the marketing that was utilized for the console and the unclarity of the GamePad's purpose. To the common person who was not a hardcore Nintendo fan it seemed more like an accessory for the Wii than an actual new console so initially people were hesitant to purchase it. This confusion hindered the consoles performance on the market and eventually lead to the disappearance of many important 3rd party developers.
Less than one year into the market the Wii U lost support of EA (Electronic Arts) in May, 2013 with the announcement that they would no longer make titles for the Wii U. Sports games account for tremendous amount of sales across all consoles and the Wii U basically had no major (FIFA, Madden NFL, NBA 2K) releases past its release in 2012.
Also in July 2013 Bethesda announced that they had no games in production for the Wii U. Bethesda VP of PR and marketing, Pete Hines explained the following:
"It depends on the games that we are making and how we think it aligns with that console, and how the hardware aligns with the other stuff we are making"
Major developers claimed the hardware was not capable of supporting their games. This seemed more like an excuse not to say the plausible truth, that they did not want to take their time to develop games for a slow selling console. They most likely did not like the fact that they had to come up with extra features for the Wii U versions of the games, since they had to integrate the Gamepad in someway.
The Wii U had a promising future at launch and was a huge step forward from the Wii because it brought Nintendo to the age of HD by becoming Nintendo's first HD console. It's main selling point was centered around the GamePad which features a 6.2 inch touchscreen, camera, NFC (amiibo scanner), a TV controller function, and a few other features. The Wii U is also backwards compatible, allowing you to still play your Wii games, which is nice because it doesn't render your Wii games obsolete.
The Wii U GamePad is quite a personal item and I often found myself playing without the need to use my TV on the GamePad, I was even watching Netflix or Youtube from it. The GamePad has nice audio quality, it was also comfortable to hold. The charge on the GamePad lasts about 3-4 hours sometimes a bit more, sometimes a bit less depending on how demanding the game is, which is not bad considering I can barely get 3 hours of battery playing Skyrim on the Switch.
As far as the games go, if you do take a look at the library of games available for the Wii U, there are quite some memorable games which made the Wii U shine in it's true light and show how much potential it truly had. If you look at The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for example; it looked and played nearly identically on the Wii U and the Switch, which proved that the Wii U was indeed a powerful console itself!
The Wii U also introduced amiibo to the world, this can be considered a success specially seeing how useful they can be in games like Super Smash Bros Wii U and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild all of which had people scrambling all over the place trying to buy Legend of Zelda amiibo to unlock various armors and other items.
Below is a list of some of the most successful Wii U games in terms of sales and popularity:
Bayonetta 2 (2014)
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (2014)
Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze (2014)
LEGO City Undercover (2013)
Mario Kart 8 (2014)
Pokkén Tournament (2015)
Shovel Night (2014)
Super Mario 3D World (2013)
Super Mario Maker (2015)
Super Smash Bros for Wii U (2014)
Yoshi's Woolly World (2015)
Xenoblade Chronicles X (2015)
The Legend of Zelda :Breath of the Wild (2017)
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD (2016)
The Legend of Zelda: Windwaker HD (2013)
On January 2017, Fils-Aimé told Polygon that Breath of the Wild, which would ship at launch with the Switch in March 2017, that would also be Nintendo's final first-party title for Wii U. Nintendo formally announced that production of the Wii U had ended worldwide on January 31, 2017.
The Wii U will always be remembered as that console that did not sell well and lacked games due to lack of support. Nintendo sold 14 million units of the Switch in its first year which is the same amount as the total number of Wii U's sold all time . All that aside the Wii U is an incredible device filled with unrealized potential and will always be remembered as an innovative console that tried to change how we play. The Wii U was in a way the blueprint for the Switch, so at least everyone can thank the Wii U for that.
The Gamepad actually has its own built-in sensor bar.
The Wii U was released in North America (11/18/2012) before Japan (12/08/2012)
You can upgrade your GamePad's battery to get 5-8 hours of battery life on it