Nintendo can be as kooky as it wants with Mario, but it shouldn’t remain cuckoo about the Wii U’s price. According to an interview with Nintendo executive Scott Moffitt in VentureBeat, Nintendo is not planning to lower the price of the Wii U. A real shame. Nintendo could have capitalized on the stupid energy it created at E3 with a $50 price drop to go along with Cat Mario and Mario Kart As F-Zero and Wipeout.
As I said in a previous article, Nintendo isn’t really competing with Sony or Microsoft in a console war. But Moffitt tells VentureBeat that the Wii U’s current price represents a “great value with the announcements from our competitors.” This statement misses the point: you’re catering to people interested in Nintendo games, not people interested in buying an Xbox One or PS4. And if Nintendo fans haven’t bought the Wii U in droves yet, there must some question about the system’s value.
Don’t get me wrong. Titles like Super Mario 3D World and Mario Kart 8 will sell systems. (I would say the same thing about Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze if I were living in the early 1990s before 3-D camera angles were common.) But think about how many more consoles Nintendo could sell with a price drop. In the VentureBeat interview, Moffitt suggests the Wii U will follow the path of the 3DS, a system that once had relatively low hardware sales. But again, a point is missed. The 3DS didn’t become a sensation because of new good games alone. The handheld’s perceived value skyrocketed with a price drop. Price drop + new good games = a deal that’s hard to refuse.
Moffitt is banking on a string of new first-party Wii U titles to pull the system out of its funk. But let’s assume there are savvy gamers who might want to try those titles but aren’t sure they want to spend $350 for the Deluxe system (let’s face it, the puny 8GB Basic bundle doesn’t appeal to people who want a decent amount of storage space). The Deluxe Wii U is only $50 less than a PS4, a system with more power, space, and third-party support. From the perspective of an interested but savvy consumer, the Deluxe Wii U needs to be at least $300 to make sense.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Nintendo changes its mind about the price drop. If not after games like Pikmin 3 fail to sell enough systems, then after the holidays, which will bring good sales but might fail to meet great expectations. Read Charles Dickens, Nintendo.