These three articles – 3DS and Vita: Past, Present and Future, How does Wii U fit in my wallet? and Nintendo series reborn – were originally written as entries for the Blog of the Week competition at IGN. The first two won the prize and I think the third is pretty good, too. I hope you enjoy!
This article was originally posted on IGN on March 15, 2012.
From the moment I saw Wii U, I was certain I was going to buy one as soon as possible. The idea of a Nintendo system so powerful – able to play Zelda and Metroid in 1080p – is just amazing. And even though we still have many questions yet to be answered about the machine, the whole thing has a smell of potential impossible to describe. But how much will that potential cost? I’ll start explaining my situation on the matter.
I live in Brazil. As some of you might or might not know, taxes for electronic devices tend to be insanely high here, so everything is expensive. I paid 630 Brazilian reais (right now worth about 350 US dollars) for my 3DS and that was just over half the official MSRP here of R$1199 (it’s R$799 since August). So you see, when we read Americans complaining about something that costs $300 or $400, we usually end up thinking “what are they complaining about? That’s really cheap!”
I think Wii U will be priced at either $299 or $349. Any more than that and it would suffer the “five-hundred-and-ninety-nine-US-dollars” syndrome. As seen with the PlayStation 3 and 3DS, high release prices are never a good start and usually make the system suffer of low install base for months or even years. Since top-model Xbox 360s and PlayStation 3s still cost $299 in America, selling a new-gen system for the same amount would be very aggressive marketing. However, we don’t want the system’s quality to suffer because of the price. Though we have no official word on Wii U’s hardware, it’s pretty much given that it’ll easily outperform the current-gen systems. But it has to be able to stand up to its contemporary competitors, which are yet to be announced. Because of that, I believe selling the system at a loss would be an interesting decision – one that Nintendo isn’t known for doing frequently. It would allow a more powerful system to be priced at the same level as its last-gen competitors.
Now, I’ll certainly end up paying over $400 on my Wii U. I’ll do what I can to avoid paying the MSRP (which will likely be R$1500 or above, considering PS Vita just launched here for R$1600), but it’ll be quite expensive anyway. So I want to know my investment will be worthwhile and, when talking video game systems, two things are the most important: its games and its features.
I don’t think there’s much to worry about in the games department. It’s a Nintendo system, so it’s obvious we’ll see high-quality first-party titles for it eventually. Hopefully, unlike what happened to the 3DS, we’ll see two or three big ones at launch or close enough. The console also seems well-served of third-parties. With games like Assassin’s Creed III, Batman: Arkham City and Ninja Gaiden 3 confirmed (probably for the launch window) and the high possibility of games like BioShock Infinite, Grand Theft Auto V and that shooter so many people like for some reason also hitting Wii U, I don’t expect seeing a drought of games. Unless the other 8th-gen systems really end up considerably out-performing the Nintendo and we end up missing on most multi-platform releases again, which is not all that likely but still a possibility, we probably won’t have much to worry about other than Microsoft buying all third-party studios for themselves.
As for non-gaming features… My biggest concern is whether it’ll end up doing everything it can do. The 3DS, so far, has a lot of unused potential. For a system with cameras and a microphone, it’s certainly lacking a video chat app. And how about YouTube? That would be awesome to see in our three-dimensional portables. I fear the same may happen to Wii U: Many things we know the system could handle, but not done because of diverse reasons. It would be very interesting to see the eShop (both on 3DS and Wii U) handled in a fashion closer to Apple’s App Store, allowing for easier access from third-party developers of games and apps. Still, we did see video chat and a drawing application on the system’s announcement trailer. And 3DS already allows you to browse the web during gameplay by pressing the HOME button, so I can see the controller’s screen being used for that. I just hope there’s more than just that.
But there’s really one answer to everything: Show me an HD Metroid game, Nintendo, and I will buy a Wii U for each of my family members. Unless it costs five hundred and ninety nine US dollars.