September 13, 2012
Nintendo Announces Wii U Availability At New York Announcement Event
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Update 11:30AM CST: Nintendo announced in their New York event this morning that the new Nintendo Wii U will be available Stateside on November 18th, before it´s available in Japan. American gamers will also be able to pick up one of these consoles for a considerably lower price: $300. The “Deluxe” 32GB model will also be cheaper in America, available for just $50 more at $350.
For tech companies, timing a product announcement can be tricky. The announcement needs to be far enough in advance to give the media enough time to review the product and earn the company some free press, but not too far in advance so that consumers completely forget the company ever said anything. Then there´s the matter of announcing products defensively or offensively, depending on what competitors have just announced.
Struggling Japanese game maker Nintendo will give such an announcement today in New York City, where they are expected to announce their first new gaming console since the 2006 Wii.
The Nintendo Wii U, a bit of a follow-up for the Wii, is part 3DS, part Wii, providing a second screen for different viewpoints and controls inside a motion sensitive controller. However, before members of the press could even be seated in New York, the company announced their plans to release the new Nintendo Wii U in Japan beginning on December 8th.
For 26,250 yen (or $340 American) Japanese gamers will be able to purchase a model of Nintendo´s latest and greatest set with 8GB of storage. According to Reuters, there will be a larger, 32GB model in black available for 31,500 yen, or $405.72. When the company´s press event kicks off in New York this morning, US pricing and availability should finally be revealed.
It´s already been pointed out, of course, that $340 is a significantly higher price point than the original 2006 Wii, which launched November 19th.
It´s also no secret that the maker of video game legends, such as Mario and Zelda, has been facing stiff competition in recent years. Microsoft´s Xbox 360 and Sony´s Playstation 3 are huge hits in America and abroad and sell for even less than the Wii U in Japan.
On the other hand, some analysts thinks $340 isn´t an unfair asking price for the new gaming console.
“It sounds inexpensive to me, and probably it´s the price that consumers can afford,” said Takashi Oka, a Tokyo-based analyst at TIW Inc, speaking to Bloomberg Businessweek. “It may prompt existing owners to replace their Wii with the new one.”
Oka even expects shares of Nintendo stock to turn upwards on today´s announcement.
“The price is probably set just above production costs so the company won´t lose money,” said another analyst, Tomoaki Kawasaki with Iwai Cosmo Securities.
“I´m paying close attention to whether there will be innovative software.”
While Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony may be competing against one another, they´re together fighting against the quickening tide of mobile platform games. Many casual gamers are choosing to pay .99 cents to $5.99 to occasionally play a game on a device which they already carry in their pockets, as opposed to dropping upwards of $300 on a console and another $40-$60 on individual games. A new study out this week by NPD Group defines this shifting trend in gaming, saying 12 million fewer people are gaming on traditional consoles, allowing mobile platform gamers to outnumber “core gamers.”
And this is what makes the timing of today´s Nintendo announcement particularly tricky: Apple announced new iPhone and iPod Touch models just yesterday, both of which offer improved graphics performance for video games on a super thin, pocketable device. As Nintendo tries to keep up with its competitors, both mobile and traditional, they run the risk of being seen today as the company who´s just trying to keep up rather than leading the pack.