Nintendo Wii U Priced and Dated: One Geek’s Reaction

Sep 13, 2012

Nintendo held a special press conference today to announce the release date and price of their newest console, the Wii U. On November 18th, consumers with $300-$350 in disposable income will have the opportunity to dive into poor-man’s tablet-driven console. Riggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo’s U.S. President and COO, quickly made this reveal before attempting to appeal to “hardcore” gamers by sharing a long list of 50 titles to be released between November and March of 2013. The event was actually quite well done and it was nice to see some big titles associated with Nintendo.

This is an exciting time for Nintendo who have never released a console at this price point. The original NES, Super NES, and Nintendo 64 all launched at $200. While the Wii launched at $250. I feel the price is logical and necessary. Had Nintendo launched any lower then consumers would have been even more confused about this console. The consumers Nintendo is targeting with the Wii U aren’t reading blogs and listening to podcasts every day. They need explicit instruction as to why they should consider buying the Wii U. Had it been $200, it would probably slip passed their radar. Oddly, Nintendo chose to fragment their market with two SKUs: the $300 basic and $350 deluxe. The big difference between the two being storage space of 8GB and 36GB respectively. Unfortunately, with average downloadable games being 1GB-2GB, gamers may find themselves short on space – especially with the Basic model. Importantly, this fragmented approach may confuse consumers. Another confusion is around control. The Wii U will ship with one Game Pad, but will not include any controlers. It will, however, fully support the Wii controllers, of which there are two types: Wii Remote, and Wii Remote Plus. It’s unclear at this point if new Wii U games will require the Plus remote only. Clearly, Nintendo is positioning the Wii U as an upgrade over the Wii – another confusing decision.

As for the games, titles such as Trine 2, Darksiders II, and Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge were mentioned as part of the initial release of the console. As for individual dates – those were not given. I’m concerned about Nintendo as it relates to this reveal. New gamers were created by the Wii – specifically Wii Sports. It was simple and fun to play with friends. Most of all, it was something different and exciting. The Wii U feels like a system created to take market space away from Sony and Microsoft. But Mass Effect 3 and Batman: Arkham City are outdated. They can be had for $20. Why would anyone spend $60 to play it on the Wii U? And really, only a very small percentage of gamers that haven’t played them, but would, are still in the market for them. Personally, I’m not intersted in Mass Effect 3. If I were, I would have played it by now; and I own a 360 and PS3. That’s two places to play it. A third wouldn’t motivate me. Truly, other big-boy games were announced, but they’ll also come out on PS3/4 or the 360/720 and those owners already have trophies, achievements, and gamer scores to work on. And you know what? So do their friends.

Unfortunately, Nintendo is late to the game. From a competitive perspective, the Wii U is similar to Sony and Microsoft’s attempts at motion controls. And like those attempts (the Move and Kinect), the Wii U is a knee-jerk reaction that wasn’t given enough thought.

Sorry Nintendo, but I’m not buying this one.