Anyone who says that the mystery surrounding the Wii U’s price and release date is business as usual for Nintendo, you’re dead wrong. Back in 2006, Nintendo was very forthright about the Nintendo Wii. Days before the E3 2006 conference started, Nintendo announced the strange name for its system, and at the show it announced the $250 price, the November release date, and a slate of games guaranteed for day one. The waiting game happening with the Wii U bodes ill for Nintendo. Something ain’t right with this launch.
Word now is that the console will only just make its 2012 release date in certain parts of the world. CVG reported on Friday that Wii U has been pushed back from fall to December 2012 in all of Europe. Sources claim that Nintendo’s first priority is a successful Wii U launch in the United States before the Thanksgiving holiday spending blitz. Production problems however are complicating this goal and Nintendo’s plans to release the device in Japan and multiple European countries.
In particular, it’s the Wii U’s distinctive tablet controller that’s messing things up. Motion sensors, a 6-inch touch screen, and NFC tech are all included in the tablet-style controller and building these cheaply and quickly is proving difficult. Nintendo has struggled with manufacturing in the past, but its trouble with the Wii was meeting insatiable public demand for the device.
The controller is also the main source of speculation concerning Wii U’s price. Nintendo president Satoru Iwata promised in June that the Wii U’s price would be “reasonable,” analysts and online retailers have said otherwise. One source familiar with Nintendo’s manufacturing operations said that Wii U will retail for no less than $300. The console allegedly costs $180 just to produce, $50 of which is just the touch screen controller. Amazon UK listed the Wii U in June for the equivalent of $310.
Nintendo needs to announce concrete launch plans for Wii U as soon as possible. The window for marketing the device is closing, and Nintendo is already facing an uphill battle in getting people to understand what Wii U even is. Media outlets like CNN and even talk show hosts like Jimmy Fallon have referred to Wii U as just an add on to the existing Wii console, not a new console itself, so just think how the average consumer will treat it.