Everyone on Southwest Airlines flight 1883 yesterday got a free Wii U, prompting smiles of delight, followed by quiet utterances of “Is this the PlayStation Xbox thing they’ve been talking about on the news? No?” followed by polite smiles of somewhat less delight. The airline’s largesse is tied to a new marketing partnership between Southwest and Nintendo, the maker of the Wii U. Aside from Oprah-style giveaway stunts, the partnership will also see Nintendo setting up “gaming lounges” at Southwest hubs, where you can try out the Wii U’s novel touchscreen controller after a couple thousand airline passengers have touched it already, just in time for flu season.
Southwest surely would have gotten more publicity if it had given away the PlayStation 4 or the Xbox One, the brand new consoles whose scarcity is driving up eBay prices and making them the proverbial “hot item” for this shopping season. You could argue that the Wii U actually makes a better holiday gift than either of its newer competitors, since it’s cheaper, its game library is better—including excellent family/party games like Game & Wario and Super Wario 3D World—and it isn’t riddled with bugs. However, the Xbox One’s GPU is capable of 1.31 teraflops (the most fun variety of flops), making it a mathematically more enjoyable machine. Sorry, Southwest. You can’t argue with math.