Turn a Wii U On to See Nothing But Ads

Business wise, “the game is changing” can be said about consoles and pushed ads. Top quality product makers think its time to emulate Google’s AdSense, social network marketing, and the revenue model of many two-bit iOS game developers.

Nintendo makes game sets that don’t come cheap. If you get a lucky find, you purchase a Wii U for no less than $250. Then you spend between $30 to $60 for decent games. Once you’ve come this far, you expect the product to roll out the red carpet for you: to deliver an ad-free gaming experience.

Out with the old and in with the new

We older gamers like to think that an ads-free gaming experience is “right” based on past experience—not based on what ads may have to offer us in the future. Many people are disenchanted with ads, so its understandable why such people will be uneasy with Nintendo pushing ads whenever the gamers turn on a device.

This is the ad you might see when you turn on the Wii U today.

This is the ad you might see when you turn on the Wii U today.

My friend TJ Draper had such a legitimate rant about ads that are now pushed to customers the moment they so much as press the power button on a Wii U:

Hear me well, this. is. not. okay! The Wii U is a premium product. Nintendo has always positioned themselves as makers of premium products and they charge a premium price. I paid a premium price for the console and the games that go with it. I did not buy a device that is ad supported. I have spent several hundred dollars for a premium experience. I don’t think it’s asking too much that my premium device not be plastered with ads, even ads only for products from the maker of the device.

Build, play, then analyze

First, let me just say that gamers/customers can opt-out of the ads on the Wii U under Settings on the device. TJ, like most customers, probably doesn’t think to look because Settings is out of sight, and it’s fiddly to change settings when all you want to do is play a game to relax for a few minutes at the end of a long day.

I’ll show you how to turn off the Wii U ads in a moment, but first, let’s finish this rant problem with a little analysis.

Ads anywhere is largely a gray area business. I for one don’t want to see ads each time I activate my game console. I’d like them to make top quality content speak so well for itself that I come back to Nintendo begging for more on my own accord. Is the Wii U exclusively pushing ads in front of gamers? No, other gaming platforms do this too. But precedent from other gaming platforms isn’t a good reason for Nintendo to do likewise, from a customer’s standpoint.

If Nintendo can make good incentives for customers to see ads on a regular basis, then I guess the ads are not all that bad after all. Such is the case with an offer from Nintendo going on at the moment. When you buy Mario Kart 8 you may download a free game from the Eshop—no strings attached.

That’s a great offer! Would customers know about it if the ads didn’t appear the moment the Wii U was activated? Probably not. I took advantage of it and now have The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. It took me about 20 minutes to take advantage of the offer while I learned my way around Club Nintendo and the Wii U Eshop, but it was worth it because Nintendo gave me a $40 game for purchasing a $50 game.

That’s the kind of ad (special offer) I want to see more of.

The rule of thumb in the past: If you want to give customers the best user experience, you will let them shop when they want to shop, and let them play when they want to play. When gamers activate a device their primary use case is to play—not to shop. So gamers should be offered gameplay first, and special offers second. Somehow.

Back to TJ:

Can you imagine if Apple plastered an add on an iPhone or iPad screen that required you to click a button to acknowledge before you could use your device? No, the answer is you can not imagine it because Apple would never EVER do it. And if they did, the pundits would finally be right in declaring that Apple’s demise was near.

Let’s get real for a moment. Regrettably, Nintendo’s demise is happening whether we like it or not. All companies will eventually go away. Nothing lasts forever. It may seem that the companies we enjoy today have always been around and will still be around generations from now. But that’s just not likely.

I want Nintendo to be one of the best companies in the world, and I want Nintendo to last a while yet. I love Nintendo (in a gamer’s sort of way) so they need to cut the crap out. And they still have time to figure this stuff out.

If they really must push ads in front of us, so that I get great offers for free games and the like, they need to find an unintrusive manner to do it for customers like TJ.

How to turn off Wii U ads

Like I mentioned before, the great news is you have the option to stop all incoming ads from Nintendo on the Wii U if you so choose! Like anything you want to set straight, you can turn off incoming ads within Settings.

Nintendo calls the ads “Alerts.” In this way they sound positive. Think of them as your friendly Nintendo’s notifications: letting you know they mean you good will, so they have a deal “just for you.” Yeah, whatever.

1. Start by visiting Settings on the Wii U Menu.

2. Go to Power Settings from the Settings menu.

3. Alerts (the ads) are part of the Quick Start Menu, so to control them go to Configure Quick Start Settings.

4. Disable Automatic Display of Alerts from the Quick Start Menu.

Mission complete.


Does this mean you won’t see any ads on the Wii U Menu or GamePad from this moment forth? No. There will probably come a roundabout way they will appear (not as Alerts, but as a “screensaver” or something else). In the meantime, following the steps (above) will help you get right to your gaming, and avoid the intrusive ads upon starting your Wii U.

But if you think the way I do, you might want to leave them on. Free games are free games. I want to know about real special offers. Yet the day Nintendo abuses this with disappointing ads, I’m going to be an upset customer.

Joe Darnell

Joe is a UI and graphic designer with prior experience as the creative director for three media-based businesses. Joe’s passionate about web design and graphic design with about 15 years of experience in the media industry. Additionally, Joe is the host of the Top Brew and Techtonic podasts, both featured on iTunes.