When it comes to console releases, timing appears to be everything. Take for example the launch of the Xbox 360, which took place a full year before its biggest competition, the PS3. That yearlong wait for a console, while insignificant in the grand scheme of things, is believed to be the reason why the Xbox 360 still outperforms the PS3 to this day.
Now, as we enter a new console generation, there is another console taking the big leap into the market before anyone else, the Wii U, but its publisher, Nintendo, doesn’t make much of the early release, in fact they find it insignificant. For Nintendo President Satoru Iwata, it’s more important that they find the right price for the Wii U.
When the 3DS released last year it was met with some criticism for both its price and lack of launch content. This of course steamrolled into Nintendo being forced to drop the 3DS’ price and offer a goodwill gesture towards those early adopters. Obviously Nintendo doesn’t want the same situation to happen with the Wii U, especially since it resulted in Nintendo recording a loss for the first time since going public.
So, it’s pretty easy to see why Iwata is less concerned with launching first, and more pre-occupied with finding the right price point. He wants his company not to record a loss two years in a row, and the only way to really do so is to make the Wii U profitable.
“Being first in the next generation race is not important at all. One of the reasons we believe this is the time for Nintendo to launch the Wii U is it’s going to be important for the world…The pricing of Wii U is going to be one of the most important elements when it is going to be launched. The environment is different. Wii U is going to be launching in a different environment than when the Wii was launched. Also, the involvement surrounding [mobile and social] businesses is different than several years ago.”
It almost seems like Iwata is more concerned with the mobile market, which is dominated by the likes of Android and iOS devices. Its not an outright admission, but we wouldn’t be surprised if Nintendo looks to the pricing of devices like the iPad as their baseline. They want to be competitive, clearly, but they also want to be competitive.
Whether that profitability comes from a stellar launch line-up or an affordable price point is unclear based on Iwata’s statements, but clearly they are not concerned with that important “head start.” In all reality, since the Wii U isn’t all that different from the current generation of consoles, it’s actually getting into the market at dead last, and will have to play catch up for the good part of a year.
This leaves plenty of time for the next wave of consoles to swoop in with their outrageous price tags and crazy graphics processing power and dominate the market once again. But you never can underestimate the power of being first out of the gate.
Do you think that Nintendo should be capitalizing on an affordable price tag or releasing first? What will convince you that the console is worth picking up?
Nintendo’s Wii U is targeting a Holiday release.