Nintendo has gotten a lot of mileage out of its Wii gaming console, especially given the fact that it is the only non-handheld platform on the market that hasn’t jumped in with high definition visuals. The Wii was released in 2006 and since then is largely responsible for the introduction of “casual” as a pop concept in the gaming industry. Mobile growth has taken that torch and spurred things along of course, but the Wii is what came first and the Wii is what got everyone from hardcore game fans to suburban moms and dads in line to pick up their launch day pre-orders way back in ’06.
Despite the widespread adoption, or more likely as a result of it, the price of the Wii has only dropped from its launch figure of $250 down to $200 in the past five years. And that $50 change didn’t even come until 2009. It seems now that the Japanese tech company is preparing to slash the number once again, down to $150, starting on May 15. The world first came from Engadget, via an unnamed, “trusted” source. This was followed shortly thereafter by an update from GoNintendo, which has an internal K-Mart price sheet listing the Wii at the “clearance” price of $150. None of this amounts to proof-positive, but we’re at least in proof-neutral territory at this point.
The better question to ask is “why?” Why now? Has Nintendo simply reached the conclusion that the Wii has spread as far as it is going to at its current price? Or could there be another reason? With the yearly E3 trade show fast approaching, it isn’t out of the question that Nintendo is planning a new console reveal. Probably not, but while the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 continue to do a reasonably solid job of handling increasingly graphics processing-heavy gaming experiences, the Wii lags behind.
That said, Nintendo is a company known best for its enduringly popular franchises. Most fans will agree that Mario and Zelda don’t need to look perfectly crisp and lifelike, so long as they have fun gameplay to back them up. Even for people who spend their hours with stuff like “Call of Duty” and “Gears of War,” the Wii has proven with games like “No More Heroes,” “House of the Dead: Overkill” and “MadWorld” that there can be hardcore appeal without cutting-edge visuals. More likely, the price drop — if it is indeed real (though you can bet it eventually will be regardless) — is simply the product of time passing.