By September 14, 2006

Nintendo Wii launch details

The Wii (pronounced “we”), Nintendo’s next generation gaming console that promises a control system based on gestures and a backlog of classic video games, finally got a launch date and price.

Nintendo officially announced this morning at 1:55AM EDT that the Wii will launch in Japan on December 2nd, with a price point of 25,000 yen, or about $215USD. That’s the Japan price — there’s still a chance that Nintendo will bump the price up to $250 for the US release. Despite earlier rumors, the system will not ship with a game. The console will also include other accessories, such as a stand and the sensor bar/sensor bar stand.

The Nintendo Wii console seems like a bargain, in contrast to Microsoft’s Xbox 360, whose Premium model sells for $399 and the Sony PS3, currently rumored at $600+ and a launch date of later this year. Neither the 360 nor the PS3 consoles come with any games. Granted, the Wii won’t have the horsepower or cutting edge optical technology (Sony’s Blu-Ray HD DVD on the PS3), but as I consistently play my underpowered Nintendo DS Lite for four hours a day, I can’t seem to mind that the Wii is a little behind the tech curve.

The next important piece of the puzzle was how much the Wii’s games retail for. Classic games will sell for less than $10 each: NES games for ~$4.25, SNES for ~$6.80, and ~$8.50 for N64 games, with today’s yen-to-dollar exchange prices. A more logical, non-exchange rate based structure would be $5, $8, and $10 respectively. Nintendo’s in-house Wii games are estimated at $40 – $60 for current-gen titles. I hoped that the Wii’s current-gen titles will sell for $30 – $40. This prices the games (depending on the title) slightly below or equal to typical Xbox360 games, which retail for $60.There is still no word on the cost for PS3 games, but I expect them to be in line with the 360’s offerings.

At just $10 less than a 360 and $10 more than the last-gen Nintendo Gamecube, the Wii is turning out to be less of a slam dunk than I thought it would be. After all, you generally only buy one console, but the fun (and $$$) is in buying tons of games. Perhaps I’ll be sticking with my NDSL a little bit longer. 😉

Nintendo’s stated goal with the Wii is to “return gaming to the masses,” and the lower price point and party games seems like a good strategy. However, they have a lot of catching up to do with Microsoft’s Live! service. Live! allows subscribers to play games together online, download demo versions of games before they are released, purchase lesser-expensive games from smaller third-party developers, and will soon enable hojillions of Settlers of Catan fiends to trade wood for ore online.

Accessory details have come online:

WiiMote: 3,800Y (~$33)
Nunchuck or NES-style controller: 1,800Y (~$15)

[edit #2]
According to USA Today and a New York Times article that was leaked before the Japanese press conference, the Wii will launch in North America on November 19th for $250. Unlike the Japanese version, it will come bundled with a “game,” Wii Sports, which will feature tennis, boxing, and other mini-games. The consensus among gamers is that Wii Sports is pretty worthless. I’d rather have two controllers and no game for $250.

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1 Comment on "Nintendo Wii launch details"

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  1. Bond says:

    While I knew most of the details already, this article sparked a good discussion (with doc) on what makes gaming fun, the 360 vs the wii and general mayhem. I quite enjoyed the banter.