Just about anyone with a pair of opposable thumbs has been anxiously waiting to get said members on Nintendo's upcoming console, the Wii U. While the name of the thing is completely silly, it's exciting to see Nintendo finally step into the HD era. And that tablet controller is at least moderately intriguing.
But even though the console was announced well over a year ago at E3 2011, we've since been twiddling those thumbs I keep mentioning, just waiting to hear how much we're going to be expected to pay for the thing, and when exactly we can expect to pick one up.
Well, Nintendo finally spilled those details they've been keeping secret all this time. Yes, we have a launch date and a price for the Wii U. Well, it's more accurate to say we have prices (plural) for the device, as there are two different options for us North American consumers.
First of all is what Nintendo is calling the Basic Set. This console comes in white, includes a very humble 8GB of internal storage, and doesn't come with any games. The suggested retail price on this package is $299.99. The pimped-out version (or the Deluxe Set, if you're interested in Nintendo's official verbiage) is available in black, comes with the still-not-impressive 32GB of internal storage, and includes the NintendoLand game. That one will run you $349.99. Oh yes, and both versions come with an HDMI cable, which is a pretty nice touch. All of this will hit U.S. shelves on November 18.
So how should we feel about these prices?
Well, they're not bad. They're certainly well below the $600 we had heard rumors about last year. And it's not too far above the original Wii's launch price either. While $300-350 might be considered out of the price range for the gamer on a budget, a lot of employed gamers will be more than willing to spend that much at launch. And, of course, with the console's launch right before the holiday season, plenty of parents are going to have their eyes on the console for their little ones at Christmas.
So I think it's safe to feel optimistic about the console at this point. Especially with a new Pikmin title and New Super Mario Bros. U on the horizon. And not only that, but Nintendo somehow managed to finagle Bayonetta 2 as a Wii U-exclusive title. And that's really where the Wii U needs to outshine its predecessor, the Wii, in order to stay competitive; it needs some great third-party support.
And I'm not the only one who feels this way. Industry analyst Jesse Divnich had this to say in an interview with NBC News:
"We feel confident that Nintendo will develop its own compelling software that will drive initial sales; however, any long-term success will come from third-party developers creating unique and compelling content for the Wii U. Simply 'porting' over existing Xbox 360 titles and slapping on some exclusive Wii U features will not cut it."
And, while Divnich is certainly not the first person to voice that exact opinion, it's a fair point nonetheless. I mean, sure it's kind of exciting that, for example, Arkham City is coming to the Wii U with expanded features, but most of us already played through Arkham City on the PS3 or the 360. How many of us are going to want to replay it again with a couple new features added?
The Wii U is able to do things that no other console is able to do right now (though with Xbox SmartGlass and the PS Vita, Sony and Microsoft could support some of the Wii U's more interesting tablet features pretty easily), and therefore needs to create experiences that are unique to the system. And I'm not talking about minigame collections; I'm pretty sure most of us are burned out on those by now.
Then again, famed analyst Michael Pachter has been gleefully tweeting about the Wii U, claiming the price point is fair and that "The Wii U software lineup was better than I expected, third party support pretty solid, and Nintendo titles high quality." And he's a guy who tweets about this stuff for a living.
The one thing I'm left wondering, though, is why it took Nintendo so long to let consumers know these details. As they pointed out in their official announcement, there are only 66 days between the price point announcement and the release of the console. Even though the price point isn't too terribly bad, a $300 purchase is more than just pocket change, especially when we're still in a recession. That's an expense a lot of consumers would have appreciated more than 66 days to plan for.
Still, even though finding Wii U naysayers isn't difficult at this point, I'm pretty sure the Wii U will do just fine at that price point, especially once we start seeing some great third-party exclusives.
Editor / News Director
Date: September 13, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*