By Jonathan Charles | Jul 21, 2012 10:44 AM EDT
Nintendo's launch of Wii U by the end of 2012 is important for the company, partly because of its first-ever reported loss but also, because of the year-long advantage it has before Microsoft and Sony's next-generation consoles probably hit retail. Nintendo (Worldwide) president, Satoru Iwata, speaking to Gamasutra, didn't share the same opinion.
"The environment is different. Wii U is going to be launching in a different environment than when the Wii was launched. Also, the involvement surrounding [mobile and social] businesses is different than several years ago," Iwata said, probably referring to the Wii's launch in 2005, when the iPhone and iPad had not released. Now, the tablet market is growing - Microsoft and Google will and do sell tablets - while smartphones are proving a solid alternative to consoles, for casual games especially.
Iwata also revealed the losses, currently made with the Nintendo 3DS, will change "in the very near future." The company cut the price of the handheld gaming device due to poor sales, and has revealed a larger model with a revised design: the 3DS XL, available August 19 in the U.S.
"We were selling hardware below the cost, so this year we're already recovering and improving the profitability of the 3DS," Iwata added. Additional colors aside from red, blue, and silver, appeared: bundles such as the white 3DS with Super Mario 3D Land, or the most-recently-announced purple 3DS. The 3DS XL comes in red, blue, and silver in the U.S. and Europe while there's a white option exclusive (at least, for now) to Japan.
Therefore, the pricing of Wii U is important. Nintendo has the dilemmas of not pricing high to lock out consumers, and not pricing low so it's making a loss. "The pricing of Wii U is going to be one of the most important elements when it is going to be launched," Iwata admitted. Nintendo didn't detail a price for the console during its E3 2012 conference. While perplexing to attendees, considering Microsoft and Sony's poor performances during E3 2012, Nintendo could have built hype for the release by announcing a firm price and/or window. There was a suggestion it didn't reveal a price because it wanted to judge the reaction from press, and fans.
It'll be very interesting to see if Nintendo bundles games with Wii U from day one, as it did with Wii Sports and the Wii. The key is offering games showing off the console's functionality in a simple format - swinging a bat in Wii Sports is about as simple as a game can be - and titles consumers instantly recognize, such as Super Mario.
The full interview is available at Gamasutra.
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