Nintendo's Wii U is scheduled to launch this holiday season. As such, it will be the first of the next-gen consoles available. While getting a head start on the competition may well pay dividends for Nintendo, it also means that the Wii U will be sitting on store shelves alongside the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, both of which are significantly cheaper now than when they were first introduced. As a result, Wii U will need to be priced aggressively in order to compete.
Today, a rumor surfaced alleging that Nintendo will launch the Wii U at $299.99 in America -- just $50 more than the Wii was when it debuted six years ago.
If the rumor proves to be true, that will make Wii U $50 more than the current price of the 160 GB PlayStation 3, and $100 more than the cheapest Xbox 360 option, the 4 GB console. Of course, PS3 and Xbox 360 prices may fall even further before Nintendo's next system launches, E3 being a popular time for vendors to announce hardware price cuts.
The Wii U pricing rumor originates with website Wii U Daily, which claims to have received the information in a report from an unidentified source. The report goes on to state that Wii U will retail for 20,000 Yen in Japan (roughly $250 US dollars) and 299 Euro in Europe (about $395 US dollars).
Interestingly enough, this rumor has surfaced in the wake of controversial remarks made last week by Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities.
“I think Nintendo's in disarray. I think the idea that we don't know the price point yet, but we do know what the console is, is just sad. I think they've completely blown that. It's gonna launch at $249; because it has to. They're dead if they launch at $259, I think they're toast then. I think they're toast anyway.”
While the Wii U's $299 price-point is nothing more than a rumor, and Pachter's appraisal of the situation comes off as too dire to take entirely seriously, the fact remains that pricing is indeed a serious issue for Wii U. Right or wrong, the prevailing belief is that Wii U -- which is rumored to be twice as powerful as Xbox 360 -- will be substantially less powerful than either Microsoft's Durango or Sony's PlayStation 4, and consumers expect to pay less money for less powerful hardware. Particularly in the wake of the 3DS price drop, Nintendo must understand how critically important it is to deliver systems at a palatable price.
Unlike the situation with 3DS, which rebounded spectacularly after receiving its price cut and has been going strong ever since, Nintendo is unlikely to get a second chance with Wii U. Durango and PlayStation 4 are waiting in the wings, and customers who gawk at Wii U's price tag may just hold out for Microsoft or Sony's next hardware (which, yes, will probably cost more than Wii U, but may justify that cost with superior technology). In short, Nintendo needs to get Wii U's price right the first time.
Let's hear it, Ranters -- would you pay $299 for a Wii U? Leave your answers in the comments below.
The Nintendo Wii U will release worldwide toward the end of 2012.
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