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Nintendo president Satoru Iwata doesn’t want to cut the price of the Wii U. The executive thinks that consumers are willing to spend the money, but they just haven’t yet because the Wii U doesn’t have enough games.
“If the price is actually an issue [for Wii U sales], then there is some contradiction between the current sales balance between the Basic and Premium versions of the Wii U,” Iwata said in an interview with website CVG. “The Basic version should have sold a lot, but the fact of the matter is that people are buying more of the Premium version. So the issue [of price] is not there.”
The Wii U console is struggling at retail. Last quarter, from April through June, Nintendo only managed to sell 160,000 units of the gaming system worldwide. That’s a tiny number, and many believe that the Wii U’s price is a big reason it isn’t selling. The console is currently retailing for $300 for the Basic version and $350 for the Deluxe model.
Iwata’s reasoning is that the Deluxe Wii U, which comes with 32GB of internal storage and Nintendo Land, outpaces the Basic at retail, so gamers don’t care about price.
“I understand that the real issue is the lack of software,” said Iwata. “And the only solution is to provide the mass market with a number of quality software titles.”
The Wii U certainly lacked new games through the first half of 2013. Nintendo only published two games from January through June, Lego City Undercover and Game & Wario. Meanwhile, third-party support for the console was also lacking, especially compared to PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
For the second half of the year, Nintendo is hoping that a string of bigger games can help move some hardware. The publisher released New Super Luigi U in July and Pikmin 3 in August. It also plans to release The Wonderful 101, The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, and Super Mario 3D World before the end of the year. In early 2014, it also plans to release Mario Kart 8 followed by Super Smash Bros.
All of those titles should help Nintendo sell more Wii Us, but it’s hard to see how a price drop wouldn’t help as well.
“We have no plans to change the price of the Wii U,” Nintendo vice president of marketing Scott Moffit told GamesBeat in June. “The Wii U is a great value. With great content coming that will drive the hardware installed base.”
Global sales of 160,000 units suggests that people don’t think the Wii U is a great value, and Iwata is taking the wrong lesson from the sales of the Basic Wii U.
The Deluxe comes with more storage, a charger stand for the GamePad, and a game for just $50 more. That’s a much better value than $300 for no game, no charger stand, and a quarter of the built-in storage. Customers know that, and cutting the price will make it an even better deal.
Most likely, Nintendo knows that this is really about value, but it doesn’t want to hurt its chance to maximize its revenues this holiday. If the console is still struggling after Mario Kart, Iwata will likely reconsider a price drop.