Wii U price speculation thankfully remains speculation.
EB Games Australia had taken a break from throwing shrimps onto barbies long enough to post a hefty $600 price tag for the Wii U on their website last December. Naturally, this generated a lot of buzz when EB dropped the bomb. Statements from Reggie “Manhandla” Fil-Aimes didn’t exactly put price-conscious (or grammar-savvy) gamers at ease:
“For consumers who want to have the latest gadgets and have a higher disposable income, that’s for the Wii U”
And Satoru “Bad Mamma-Jamma” Iwata made the situation sound downright dire when he simply said:
This is not going to be cheap.
And really how could it? Wii U is built to go toe-to-toe with Microsoft and Sony’s HD game consoles, plus it comes packed with the rad-looking new tablet controller… and has to have the processing guts to handle it. If this thing launched at $250 I’d probably have a joy-aneurysm. And while we probably won’t be taking home the Wii U home at Wii 1 prices, EB Australia was kind enough to step forward and basically say they pulled the $600 number out of their vegemite holes.
A representative for EB Australia has said “I am the Nightrider. I’m a fuel injected suicide machine. I am the rocker, I am the roller, I am the out-of-controller!”
After he crashed his muscle car, the EB rep was quoted that the price is subject to change, and isn’t even in the store’s system yet. And while that’s a bit of a relief, the fact remains that the Wii U is a pretty sophisticated piece of tech, and Nintendo themselves seem to be pitching to a richer customer base, especially compared to the Wii’s “gaming for everyone!” philosophy that also happened to be a huge success for Nintendo.
I’m worried for the Wii U launch. I’m always psyched for a new piece of Nintendo hardware, and Wii U’s controller looks super fun, but Nintendo’s intention of targeting the so-called “hardcore gamer” seems like a risky road for them to take. Sony and Microsoft have spent the entire last few console generations catering to this fickle demographic. Even at this early stage, when we know so little about the Wii U, it’s going to be a tough sell to the gamers happy with their PS3s and 360s. Maybe I’m generalizing, but as far as I can tell there are four things that turn off “hardcore gamers” from Nintendo’s current console:
Lack of third party support
The lack of a “normal” controller
Less-than robust online support
That third one drives me nuts, but that’s another rant for another day. But look at that little list. I love Nintendo games and systems, but those are four things the company is practically known for at this point. It’s too early to say if the Wii U will manage to get some decent third party support (here’s an idea third parties, maybe try making something besides shitty minigame compilations!), but the other three are practically guaranteed already. Okay, “last-generation graphics” isn’t quite fair. If Wii U launches this year, it will technically boast current-generation graphics… which will become last-generation as soon as PlayStation 4 and Xbox 720 come out. One of the system’s coolest features and main selling points is its non-traditional controller, which is sure to make “hardcore” gamers wrinkle their noses in disgust because it’s not a thinly veiled clone of this:
And while we don’t quite know what online features Nintendo has in store for the Wii U, just judging by their attitude concerning online play in the past, it’s likely that Wii U’s online support will still be a little thin compared to Sony and Microsoft. The 3DS’ online features are a big step forward compared to the Wii, so hopefully the Wii U will make more strides in the right direction.
But I may be getting ahead of myself. Nintendo has shown off some really cool tech demo-y type applications for the Wii U’s unique hardware, and they really do seem to be actively on the prowl for good third party support. Maybe the Wii U can grab some of the “hardcore” pie that’s eluded Nintendo for the last couple console generations. Regardless of what demographics Nintendo goes after, I’ll always be interested in a machine that plays new Nintendo games. Taking risks has paid off big for Nintendo in the past, so if nothing else it’ll be exciting to see how the Wii U launch goes.