If you've got a potentially blockbuster electronics product, you don't want to launch it in the spring. You want to launch it in the late fall, when the lines at BestBuy and Target are long, and everyone and his mother is ticking items off the holiday shopping list. Hence the ship date of the long-awaited Wii U console, which Nintendo confirmed today for Sunday, Nov. 18.
Nintendo also provided prices for the Wii U: $299 for a basic package consisting of the console and GamePad controller and requisite cables and sensor; and $349 for a suite that includes a charging stand, a console stand, and a Nintendo Land disc. That's in line with the initial list price of the Microsoft Xbox 360 and cheaper than the initial list price of the Sony PlayStation 3 – although those consoles now start at $200 and $250, respectively.
Still, it's steep for Nintendo, a company that has sought in recent years to capture the casual gaming market. Consider, too, that many consumers will want to add a second GamePad – the touchscreen controller that Nintendo hopes will distinguish the Wii U from its competitors. To our knowledge, Nintendo hasn't specified a price on individual GamePads, but given the technology and hardware included in each device, we'd wager on at least 45 bucks.
The Wii U will likely face stiff competition from other consoles, Nintendo's own handheld systems, and tablets such as the iPad, the preferred device of many casual gamers. But the Wii U will have a couple major edges, Nintendo executives said at a press conference in New York, including DVR capability and the ability to stream content from Amazon, Netflix, and YouTube.
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