"Some have the misunderstanding that Wii U is just Wii with a pad for games, and others even consider Wii U GamePad as a peripheral device connectable to Wii," Iwata said. "We feel deeply responsible for not having tried hard enough to have consumers understand the product."
Iwata is not the first Nintendo higher-up to acknowledge marketing the Wii U has been difficult compared to the original Wii. Mario and Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto said last month that because the Wii U does not have a "looking-fun" element to it, relative to the original Wii, sales have been slow.
Iwata echoed this sentiment today, calling Nintendo's ability to communicate the value of the Wii U a "grand challenge."
"Wii U might still have no such captivating game title as Wii Sports for Wii, with which people immediately comprehended its product value, but it surely has a lot of factors appreciated by users," Iwata said. "We would like to take time to work thoroughly for its penetration, by making various efforts to have many people understand its product value as well as enriching the software lineup."
Another reason the Wii U has come up short thus far, according to Iwata, is due to the extended length between major first-party titles.
"Regarding Wii U, the release intervals of first-party key titles have been so much longer than we expected at the Corporate Management Policy Briefing in January that we have not successfully maintained the momentum of the platform," Iwata said.
Beginning with Pikmin 3 in August, Iwata explained that the Wii U new release slate will ramp up quickly. When gamers who do not own a Wii U see a compelling title for the system, they will be spurred to buy the console, Iwata said.
"Starting with Pikmin 3 scheduled for release in the upcoming July [in Japan], however, we will intensively launch our key titles to give sales momentum to the platform," he said. "As a decisive factor in buying a console is that you cannot play a much-anticipated title without the hardware, we will do our best to have you feel from this summer to the end of this year that there are plenty of great games for Wii U."
Iwata said release dates for Nintendo's upcoming suite of Wii U games will be announced at the 2013 Electronic Entertainment Expo in early June. Nintendo will not hold a major media briefing at the show this summer and is instead planning to host smaller events to showcase new titles and updates.