“Our philosophy is to launch a system at a price point that we want to maintain for an extended period of time.”
-Reggie Fils-Aime, President and COO of Nintendo of America
You may remember back in January when I went ahead and gave my predictions for what I thought would happen in the world of Nintendo in 2012. Many of those predictions had to do with the Wii U. Of those predictions, one dealt with price. But there was also another prediction that dealt with something that is arguably much more important: value.
Reggie had said in an interview directly after E3 2011 that the reason why the Wii sold so well was not just because of its attractive price point (indeed, the $250 price did do a lot for system sales) but because of its value. The Wii was released with Wii Sports, a pack-in that not only was a good game, but it was the game to play with family and friends. You could play with your Wii for ours on end and not have to buy a single game. Another factor that Reggie mentioned was the addition of Netflix, making the Wii not just a gaming device, but a movie and TV device as well. All of these added to the value of the Wii. Now, with the Wii U, Nintendo must once again find a way to add value to the system.
First off is the price point. Wii U must launch at a price of $299.99 USD or lower. Anything higher than the $300 mark will make or break many people’s decision to buy the system. This is the exact same reason why the price point for the Wii was so appealing. At $250, almost every single household in America could afford a Wii. The Wii U should not be much more expensive as that, especially if they want to compete with the still-relevant PS3 and X360. First impressions count, and you don’t want to scare off potential customers with a high price tag.
Second off is the pack-ins. Nintendo must pack in a game or two with the Wii U. Now, I’m not specifically saying retail games, but it could be smaller minigames that could be preinstalled as channels much like Face Raiders on the 3DS. These games can include Chase Mii or Battle Mii, both fun party games that appeal to the mass audience and show off what the system can do. Again, I use the example of Wii Sports for the Wii. It was fun alone, it was fun with friends, it was fun for everyone, and it was free. Same with Face Raiders and AR Games on the 3DS. These smaller games perfectly show off what their respective gaming systems were capable of, and Nintendo has to do the same with the Wii U.
Third off is the features list. Nintendo must launch with an active online interface, must launch with an online shop, and must launch with an Internet browser. No one wants to buy an incomplete product, so everything must be there and ready to go day-one. Remember the 3DS? It launched with no Swapnote, no Internet browser, no eShop, no Virtual Console, and most importantly, no solid online infrastructure. It seemed like a rushed product, and no one wants a rushed product. Perhaps that in and of itself was the reason why the 3DS suffered for so long in the first six months of its release. Nintendo has to make sure that the Wii U doesn’t suffer the same fate.
And last but not least, fourth is the non-gaming media. Netflix, Hulu, ESPN, YouTube, Facebook, etc…. Nintendo must include applications onto the Wii U to make it appeal to non-gamers and enhance the value of the system. The Wii had so many different applications, including a photo booth, a weather channel, and a news channel. The 3DS has a music player, a video application, and a messaging service. What will Wii U have? Hopefully, a lot more. Think of the possibilities: the artist in your family could enjoy a drawing app on the Wii U controller, the sports junkie can browse quickly for sports highlights, and the businessman can quickly look up stocks while you’re playing your game. Netflix was popular on the Wii. ESPN was popular on the X360. With the Wii U’s special controller, applications like these will be more accessible than ever before. The Wii U has the potential to become a multimedia device that’s not just for games, and Nintendo just cannot pass this chance up.
Though it’s obvious that price will play a huge factor in the decision process of purchasing a new gaming console, Nintendo needs to realize (and I’m pretty sure they’ve already had) that it’s value that is more important. That’s what made the Wii so appealing, and that’s what Nintendo needs to do with it’s successor. It’s value that counts, not just price.