Nintendo's Wii U, and Facebook's sales tracking tool for e-retailers

An attendee plays on Nintendo's new Wii U video game console during the Tokyo Game Show conference on September 20, 2012 in Chiba, Japan.

Jermaine was standing in line in New York City on Friday, to buy the new Nintendo Wii U game console that didn't go on sale until yesterday. Jermaine's game plan was to play the new Wii U for 48 straight hours.

"I will be here until Sunday midnight, which is probably about 30 plus hours," he said. "As soon as I get the system I will hold the system up in the air like I'm link from Legend of Zelda and do the whole treasure chest 'get item' thing and I'm going home and playing it." 

But what is the Wii U? The first thing you notice is that the system's controller, the thing you hold in your hand, is like a tablet computer that supplements the big image the Wii puts onto your TV. And what good is that? Well, the small screen is enough to keep the kids happy if they want to play with the WiiU while the grown ups are watching TV.

"See with something like this it's very hard to tell if it's something I like because it's great or it just happens to fit into my personal life," says Ben Kuchera, senior editor at Penny Arcade Report. "For people who don't have kids running around or don't have to convince their wife that they need the TV before bed to play a video game, this might not fit in so well. It's really up to Nintendo and developers to bring out games that you can't play on any other system in any other way to get people interested in that second screen."

Kuchera says there's already a game called ZombiU that makes cool use of the handheld screen.

"You can bring up the controller and you actually physically have to move it around, to look around while staring through the smaller screen," he says. "The interesting thing about this is while you're using the screen your character in the game is standing perfectly still. And a zombie can come up from behind you and attack you when you're not looking--and that's really fun and really scary." 

In a few weeks, Nintendo will unveil software that also lets the second screen act as a souped up remote control for all the digital content, from music to movies, that can play from your TV.


Ahead of this so-called Black Friday there's a story about Facebook and advertising. The social media giant has a new tool it hopes will help make the argument to advertisers -- and investors -- that all those Facebook members can be turned into real dollars. Alexi Oreskovik, who covered the story for Reuters, says new technology gives online-retailers a way to connect the dots between ads viewed on Facebook and actual sales. 

"There's a little string of code they can take," says Oreskovik, "they can cut and paste it into their own pages of their websites when they create an ad, and that creates a mechanism to communicate with Facebook and to track Facebook users who make purchases. 

Facebook isn't revealing the names of people who saw ads and went on to buy. If this catches on, Oreskovik says Facebook could make a stronger case that its ads actually work.

"If somebody clicked on an ad, that's ok. But wouldn't it be better if you knew how many people who actually saw the ad went on to actually purchase the product," he says.

To play the home version of this game, just ask yourself how many times you saw an ad on Facebook and pulled out your credit card and took action. 

About the author

David Brancaccio is the host of Marketplace Morning Report. Follow David on Twitter @DavidBrancaccio

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