Amazon is not the arbiter of all retail knowledge. When mysterious items pop up in its mammoth international database of goods, that does not necessarily mean that it’s a) available at that price, b) available on that date, or c) even a real thing. That said, there are many times when an early Amazon listing does indicate what an item’s price and release date are according to manufacturer projections, and even when those facts are off, the company often honors pre-orders made at that speculative price point. These are important truths to consider when examining Amazon.co.uk’s claims about the Nintendo Wii U’s release.
According to the online retailer, Nintendo’s new console is coming out a whole lot sooner than you might expect. Forget the amorphous holiday release window, a Wednesday posting at the site claimed that Wii U would be available on July 14th for just £199.99.
The listing has since been removed, but MCV and a number of their intrepid readers in the UK managed to sneak in pre-orders for the console at that price. Amazon.co.uk has also kicked back the Wii U’s potential release date to December 2012.
It’s none too surprising that the July release date was an error. That’s not what’s most interesting about the listing. It’s the potential price point, a subject Nintendo has been reticent to discuss in relation to its new machine, that should pique readers’ interest.
£199.99 is the equivalent of just over $310. This would place the Wii U around the price industry analysts consider dangerous for Nintendo to release at. Given the console’s comparative power to 7-year-old technology like the Xbox 360, consumers will likely balk at the price, tablet or no tablet.
At the same time, Nintendo’s consoles, and all consoles, release in the UK and Europe and higher prices than they do initially in the United States. The original Wii for example cost £179.99 when it hit Europe in 2006, approximately $340 based on exchange rates at the time. The Wii cost just $250 in the United States when it release at the same time, so even if Amazon’s Wii U listing is accurate, the system’s price will likely be much lower outside the UK.
Until Nintendo talks release details later this year, any retail listing for Wii U is suspect. Nintendo is more sensitive about price now than it’s ever been, thanks in part to the Nintendo 3DS abysmal 2011 release. The lesson then was that releasing at too high a price, in that case $250 for a gaming handheld, is too much especially with a lack of AAA software. Wii U may have a potential bestseller right out the gate with New Super Mario Bros. U, but plumbers alone won’t get people to plunk down cold hard cash.