Nintendo is launching a new low-cost version of the Wii video game console, dubbed the Wii Mini, in the U.S. for $99.
The new version of the 2006-era Wii is smaller than the original version and it comes bundled with the Mario Kart Wii game, a red Wii Remote Plus controller, and a red Nunchuk controller. The system is expected to be available on store shelves on Nov. 17.
Nintendo is having a hard time selling its Wii U game console at its $299 price, and that will only get harder still as Microsoft and Sony launch their new game consoles. But the Wii continues to outsell the Wii U, and Nintendo believes it can target this system — like its recently released 2DS — at families and younger kids who are getting a game machine for the first time.
The challenge is that some retailers may very well bring down the price of the Microsoft Xbox 360, currently at $199, to $99 for promotional deals. That will give the Wii Mini some serious competition if that happens, as the Xbox 360 has been the top-selling console in the U.S. for a couple of years now.
The $99 price has been neglected in this product generation, but in the past, it has been a very successful price for game consoles. More than half of the volume of machines in the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 generations sold at the $99 or under price.
“Wii mini offers the same fun experience as Wii, which has been enjoyed by millions of people around the world,” said Scott Moffitt, Nintendo of America’s executive vice president of sales and marketing, in a statement. “And it comes packaged with Mario Kart Wii, a multiplayer Mario racing game that is one of the best-selling Wii games. At such a great price, it is an extraordinary value for shoppers this holiday season.”
Nintendo is unlikely to sell a ton more Wii units, as it has already reached many people in the mass market, with more than 100 million sold worldwide. Nintendo is positioning the machine as one you can play in another room while the rest of the family plays games in the main living room TV. The Wii Mini does not hook up to the Internet, so it’s more safe for kids to play. Select Wii games, like Super Mario Galaxy, will be available for $19.99 to go with the new red console. Wii Sports Resort, Super Mario Galaxy 2, and New Super Mario Bros will sell for $29.99.
In its most recent quarter, Nintendo sold 460,000 Wii U units, bringing its collective total after more than a year to just 6.3 million units sold. During the same time, the Wii sold 470,000 units.