Nintendo Announces Date, Price, and More for Wii

Dennis Faas's picture

When it rains, it pours. Nintendo has finally let the cat out of the bag about several highly coveted bits of information regarding its new system, the unique and innovative Wii.

The Price

The Price Tag for the Nintendo Wii is set for $250 (in the U.S.).

Does anything else really need to be said?

Let's compare the Wii with its other next-generation counterparts:

  • Sony PlayStation 3: $500 or $600 (U.S.) depending on which model you get.
  • Microsoft Xbox 360: $300 or $400 (U.S.) for the Core or Premium versions respectively.

Obviously, Nintendo is pricing itself much cheaper than its competition in an attempt to regain lost market share and get ahead of Sony and Microsoft in the next console war. Wii games are expected to be $50 -- which has been the regular game price point for years now -- and $10 cheaper than what most Xbox 360 games currently launch for.

The Date

The Wii is expected to hit shelves in the U.S. on November 19th, 2006 -- a year after the Xbox 360 and well before the PS3, which has been delayed until March 2007. (Source:

What's In The Box?

The Wii will launch with Wii Sports, a collection of sports-related mini-games that will make use of the system's distinctive motion-sensor remote controller. Believe it or not, the Wii is the first system in years that will come with a game (forced bundles from EB, Gamestop, and other retailers don't count because they're designed to artificially increase the price of a desired product and ultimately gouge consumers).

In the (not so) olden days, games were packed in with every system. Most everyone who owned the original Nintendo Entertainment System remembers the bliss of playing Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt right out of the box. Sega Genesis users got Altered Beast and later Sonic The Hedgehog (among others).

Unfortunately, with the advent of the PlayStation 1, bundled games fell out of favor (the PS1 launched with only a demo disc). The rationale is simple: pack-in software increases the cost of the system and decreases sales for other games.

"From a third-party standpoint, we'd prefer to have a platform without a bundle," admitted Scott Steinberg, the vice president of marketing at Sega's San Francisco branch. "There's a vote for 'no bundle' from every third party we've talked to."

Including a game with the system "obviously takes away sales, because people have one more game to play," according to Lauren Detoc, the president of Ubisoft's North American division. "But it helps [Nintendo] reinforce their ability to launch successfully."

"The real battle," Detoc added, "is how fast do you get to five million units? That will generate [more] software sales over time." (Source:

Therefore, while bundling a game with Nintendo's next gaming machine may hinder short-term profits, it could increase software sales in the long run. If the Wii is perceived by the public to be a better value because it includes a "free game," more people might be motivated to purchase it. And a larger number of systems in circulation will naturally lead to greater game sales all around.

Play Games From Any Part Of The World

That's right: the Wii will be region-free. That means you can now finally play those Japanese wrestling games or crazy European soccer games that never seemed to come out in North America.

However, there is one caveat: third-party publishers may opt to turn on region-locking if they so choose. Nintendo first-party titles will likely have no regional restrictions though. (Source:

Other Details

40 million Wii consoles will ship by the end of the year to 25,000 retail locations worldwide -- a far cry from the embarrassing shortages Microsoft experienced with the Xbox 360 last year. The United States will get most of the stock.

The system will be white, just like the Nintendo DS. (Source:

Retro games downloaded from Nintendo's online Virtual Console will be tied to your personal account. That means if anything happens to your system, you can easily recover whatever you downloaded without having to re-purchase everything all over again.

Additional Wiimotes (remotes) will run $40, while Wii Nunchucks controllers will cost $20.

The "Wii Channels" interface will include a "Mii" personal avatar that work in certain games, a shop where Virtual Console games can be purchased for "Wii Points," and the ability to browse photos, movies, and the web.

An Opera web browser is planned for the system, but no price has been decided yet. It could possibly be free.

Profits And Prospects

Nintendo is vowing that the Wii will be profitable right out of the gate. "We will make a profit on the entire Wii proposition out of the box -- hardware and software."

That bold declaration was made by Nintendo of America's president, Reggie Fils-Aime, in an interview with Reuters.

"That really is a very different philosophy versus our competitors," he continued. "We are a company that competes only in the interactive entertainment space so we have to make a profit on every thing we do." (Source:

With Nintendo's competitive pricing and bundle strategy, it will be interesting to see just how many people are "Wiired" come November 19th.

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