News Article

Iwata Unsure if Nintendo Will Sell Wii U At a Loss

Posted by James Newton

At a loss for words

In stark contrast to Sony and Microsoft, Nintendo generally sells hardware at a profit, but the recent 3DS price drop has clearly caused the company to reconsider that stance. At a recent investor Q&A, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata revealed he's not yet sure if Nintendo will sell Wii U at a profit from day one.

I have no definitive information on whether we will sell the Wii U in the red or on the suggested retail price for the hardware at this stage.

For Nintendo even to consider selling its next home console at a loss shows the heavy impact the 3DS's speedy price drop made on the company, but Iwata was keen to point out that any mistakes won't affect the Wii U:

I hope you understand that we are trying to take appropriate measures to handle the various issues we are aware of concerning the launch of the Wii U.

What do you think Nintendo needs to do to ensure Wii U is a success from the get-go? Would selling the console at a loss show Nintendo's confidence in its software or that it's lost its way in the hardware market?


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User Comments (67)



Bass_X0 said:

Good news for us but bad news for Nintendo which means bad news for us in the long run.

I doubt lightning will strike twice for Nintendo. They appealed to casuals and succeeded with the Wii and DS but they can't expect to try to appeal to them again and expect them to buy a second console/handheld.



FonistofCruxis said:

I haven't been that impressed with the wii U so far the 3DS' lacking launch isn't that encouraging and it will need a good line-up of games shown for the console next year to convince me but I wouldn't be surprised if there isn't enough to convince me to get it until at least a few months after launch.



coolvw93 said:

i still think im gonna pass on this system... unless i can be convinced that its better than what i think. i feel like its just a wii with HD and a Tablet pad. Not too much of a difference from the wii. ill stick with my wii and 3DS...



SimonB79 said:

its a double edged sword ... the cheaper the system the worse the spec ... the quicker it becomes obsolete (in the eyes of the hardcore)... if they make it expensive they loose money they won't get back cause the casual / nongamers dont spend the cash .... christ lol



sc100 said:

I think the console is awesome. There will be a lot of new, ingenious ways to play games with that controller. We just need good games that properly take advantage of the new technology. Nintendo needs to lead the way to show other developers what can be done. Also, all of the Nintendo franchises will look amazing in HD.



Thwiidscube said:

Don't worry Nintendo! I'm pretty sure I'm getting it.... IF it has good games at the launch....



_Octoling_ said:

This must be sad. A PSVita ad is on Nintendo Life. And I'll get a Wii U after Mario Wii U and Pikmin 3.




Well Nintendo, if you manage to compile a big set of launch games based on big franchises that are ORIGINAL games along with just a bit more multi-functionality than what you currently implement, then GO FOR IT.



timp29 said:

If the console is a reasonable price, and the launch line-up of games is spectacular, it will sell. Whether a reasonable price means at a profit or loss probably depends upon i) what the cost to produce the hardware is and ii) consumer confidence at the time.

A console is a commitment, once people buy the console, they will continue to spend up on at least a few more games, at least while they have confidence in the console. Now that the Wii has pretty much ground to a halt with game releases (with a few obvious exceptions) software sales will slow too. So make sure Wii U is NOT released without a suitable line up of games to accompany it.



thanos316 said:

i don't understand why everyone gets down on the 3ds for. it didn't have a spectacular launch but it did have a decent lineup of games and the back catalog is extensive. doesn't anyone remember when the ps3 first launch with some crappy games and the ds also took some time to gain some steam. but i feel that since the wii u is a year away that nintendo will be fine. just look at the content that is coming out for the 3ds now. so with strong support the wii u should be fine



Skotski said:

"Should... should I slap myself if it makes people laugh?"

Naw, but to be serious: It is a good question.
It all depends how they want to market the Wii U...



pikku said:

I love how when Nintendo finally announces their HD system, evverybody complains that it's not what they wanted or that they're ntot buying it when that's exactly what they've been griping about ever since the Wii launched.
I'll never understand people.



SkywardLink98 said:

They should sell it at a loss. Lots of people are predicting it will be around $300-$400. I don't know if I'd cough up $400 for a game system at launch, and if everyone decides to wait it will result in a repeat of the 3DS. But if it launches at $250 or so, people will buy it causing Nintendo a larger profit.



wanderlustwarrior said:

What I think will make it a success:
Releasing it when it's actually ''finished'', not half-assing the online framework or support, not skipping out on a dvd player, actually including a tried and true method as an option (an actual headset as opposed to Wii Speak, as an example), not half-assing player choice (more skin color options for Miis, like maybe an actual gradient? I certainly don't think all us black people have the same skin color), etc. etc...

What I think will placate enough people at launch for sales to be statistically considered a success:
A mario game or two.

That said, at first glance, the reveal did inspire confidence in me that they would actually be releasing a finished product. Then I thought about it. And noticed the reveal itself was rushed. And they still hadn't learned when they launched the 3DS what "ready" means. So all things considered, by my standards, it could go either way...



X-145 said:

Well, so far, all Nintendo touched turned to gold (with the exception of the Virtual Boy), but now its turning silver and bronze.
What they need to do is sell the system at a loss. they are good with 1st party hardware, we can all agree on that. And the 3rd party support is supposed to increase greatly, hell, i've even seen a lot of 3rd party support for the 3DS so far. So if they just keep pumping out good games, then more people will buy the system and the game.
So, in conclusion, The Big N should sell the hardware relitivly cheap, let's say $300-ish, and sell quality games. That's just my input on the subject.



sillygostly said:

I'm not sure if Nintendo could afford to sell the Wii U at a loss considering that they have little else to make a profit from (i.e. hardware and software). At least Sony and Microsoft have the option to subsidise costs and turn a profit from their multitude of other products, but selling the Wii U at a loss (at the risk of the system failing to meet sales expectations) could have severe long-term ramifications for Nintendo.



DemonKnight said:

First take as much time as possible developing it and it's games.Second make have a tons of publicity at least 2 months before launch.Third have lots of games supporting it.That is all I have to say.



odd69 said:

Nintendo just has more competition now, I dont think they should sell it in the "red" but as affordable as possible. If it is released at a high price i wont buy it day one just because Ive become a smart shopper and wait for sales.But if released with an affordable price tag i would buy it at launch. I don't expect the wii U to be cheap given the controller and all .



Ichabod said:

I highly doubt bf3 will be coming to the Wii U. Everyone is excited about it, only because it just released. In a year, neither company is gonna bother with trying to gain interest through a year old game. Especially, not if the Wii U is capable of housing newer games.

I curious if Nintendo should fall back on it's old tactics. Why not release a popular, first party game with the system as a bonus. If the bundles, priced the same as a system alone, are only produced in limited numbers, this will obviously cause some shortages. But, if a customer is looking to get the system, and they can't find the bundle, they will most likely still get the system on its own. Nintendo has done this tactic before, and it's worked great.

Now, don't jump on me by saying this is a bad idea. This is unfair to the consumer. This is business, and if Nintendo can pull it off, sell the system at a small loss, and still come out big on top, I say do it!



McGruber said:

Here's an idea...give me everything I can get on the other consoles, AND MORE. What someone said about Wii Speak, Wii Controls, no dual analog on 3DS. Tried and true things that Ninty keeps leaving out have really hurt them in the eyes of the people they want to gain back.



MasterGraveheart said:

Here's the magnificent seven on how Nintendo can profit with the Wii U right away.

1: Get major third party support at launch, and not just year-old titles.
2: Have at least two marquee first party titles available at launch, F-Zero and Donkey Kong would be good places to start.
3: Bundle the Wii U with New Super Mario Bros. Mii, rebuilt as a full-sized game. 9 worlds, at least eight stages each.
4: Ensure services like Netflix, Hulu, the eShop, and other important features are ready and built-in.
5: Pack in TWO Wii U controllers.
6: Sell the system for $300 at launch.
7: The big one. Offer a discount voucher to people who are 3DS Ambassadors, good for up to a year. Discount, say, $50 off the launch price.



RantingThespian said:

Games, they need good games. That's the major problem with the 3DS launch. It had very few high quality strong launch titles. The only really good games at launch were Pilot Wings and Ridge Racer 3D. I decided to wait to buy a 3DS til the summer, because of the lack of games.



OptometristLime said:

I like your thinking, but given the expenses involved with launching the Wii U tech, I don't think Nintendo can afford to hit a modest price point ($300) with the pack-ins you list. Possible alternative? Aim for a $350 price point and include a Motion Plus Remote in addition to the Wii U controller.



Capt_N said:

In short, I AGREE W/ @Lionsgate(#29), give me everything good I can get on the other systems, while also offering up Nintendo's own stuff(ips mostly) that the other co.s can't give me.

I doubt I'll get one @ launch, though.



FloY said:

if they want the hardcores all they need to do is get ALL the 3rd party games ps3 and 360 get....if you get it they will come!
but the casuals might leave you...because the wiimote is what casuals want...
nintendo is not going to sell 90 million consoles next gen... i dont think so..



chiptoon said:

@MasterGraveheart - great list! that would be a dream come true.

The one other thing I want from WiiU is HD upscaling for Wii games. I know they've already said it won't happen, but this would seal the deal for me.



SimonB79 said:

imo ... regardless of the path nintendo take the wiiu will not be anywhere near as successful as its predecessor because lightning doesn't strike twice ... ive got a nasty feeling the bigN is gonna get burned bigtime.

(allot of my friends will never buy another nintendo console again ... because lets face facts why spend £200+ on a machine that only gets used once every 6 months due 2 lame 3rd party support?)



Luffymcduck said:

270 € or lower and I might buy at launch. Oh, don´t forget great 1st party games (Pilotwings was good but gets boring after few days).



Mandoble said:

I guess the very first thing they need to do is to decide whether they want to fight in the same league as PS3/XBoX or not.

If the answer again is "no", then they can go and release just what it seems to be, a cheap Wii HD. The problem is that the initial building cost of cheap brand new Wii HD might imply a retail price exceeding the current PS3 retail price.

But if the answer is "yes", then they better wait a bit to see what is uncovered about the already announced new XBoX, planned for 2013.




Nintendo is in a period of tansition. The Wii and the DS smashed sales records all over the place, annihilated the competition like never before, and are therefore a very hard acts to follow. Any company would've made some loss when their new generations of the two consoles were due up for sale. Granted Ninty should have done better with the timing, pricing and software production rate, but I'm sure it'll come good. It won't happen straight away though (profit wise)....There are slight concerns, but the overall stragety will come good I'm sure



motang said:

Wii U needs to be packed with tech to get 3rd parties on board, and if that means I have to pay more for it, then so be it!



SimonB79 said:

imo .. nintendo should delay the wiiu until the 720 / PS4 launch ... go 4 all out power ... cause we dont want inferior ports ... (this coupled with a new mario game as a launch title will kick m&s right in the balls) ... id rather nintendo go the way of Sega then continue down this casual gamer route tbh



rjejr said:

I think it's possible he isn't talking about selling it at a loss or profit as a stated mandate, maybe he just doesn't know how much it's going to cost to make it since it apparently won't even be out for another year. If you don't know what it costs to make, then you can't know what price to sell it, or if it will be profitable. If it costs $247, easy profit, $253, take the $4 loss.

Plus, he needs to know what the competition will be next year, which nobody does. Will the PS3 still be $249, or drop to $229 or $199? You can't price your own system without knowing the competitive prices. And yes, it does matter, even comparing a new system with a 5 year old system, b/c that's what he's competing against.

And as a world wide enterprise it may even matter what the prevailing economies are doing. Double dip recession, not a good time for a new $400 gaming console. Things magically improve in the next 6 months (US elections next year guarantee I'm screwed), then maybe.

And then of course there's mother nature. I know the WiiU won't have a hard drive, but who knows what disaster will befall the WiiU manufacturing process. Seems like a new disaster every month.

And of course, the games.



bezerker99 said:

"What do [I] think Nintendo needs to do to ensure Wii U is a success from the get-go?"

Not sure, but having the console called Wii U isn't gonna help the cause (in my opinion).



Rapadash6 said:

I'm pretty sure Nintendo won't sell this system at a loss, but I find it extremely likely that they'll sell it at or around manufacturing costs. The 3DS was a huge wake up call to Nintendo and they can't afford to make the same mistakes with the Wii U. I fully expect Wii U (assuming it's even called then apon release) to be Nintendo's most thought out console ever. Let's face it, it really won't be accepted any other way.



Blaze said:

Get good launch games, and possibly sell not for a loss or a profit, and selling at the price it costs to manufacture may help.



Adam said:

They should sell it for free. At least to me. Pixelman should have to buy it at full price of hardware though.



colmtheperson said:

Why bother releasing a new generation? If they improve some of the games' gameplay on the current Wii people will buy more games... Money for new consoles is fairly tight



drumsandperc92 said:

For a successful launch, these need to occur ON LAUNCH DAY:
1. Console priced between $300 and $400. Nintendo costing more then they ever have means they mean business, and the hardware better be worth the cost.
2. System comes with one Wii U controller, one Wii Motion Plus & nunchuck, and a new variant of the 'wii sports' or some sort of compilation mini game disc. Also, make it compatible with more than one Wii U controller. That's the dumbest thing they can do for this console, is make it for only one controller....that brings me to another point....if they sell anything at a loss, just sell extra controllers at a loss. If they sold a wii u control for $50, $60 bucks, i'd definitely buy a second. Sell em at $70, maybe. $80, $90, $100, forget it. But still make it compatible!
3. Big AA titles from 3rd parties right away. Need for Speed, Battlefield, Call of Duty, Assassins Creed, Elder Scrolls, etc. These games will have been out for a minute, so port em to Wii U & tweak em to take advantage of not only the controls but the increased horse power. This means BF3 on Wii U better look at LEAST as good as it does currently on Ultra settings on a gaming PC.
4. Pull out all the stops with 1st party games. Launch with a Super Mario. Something new, something different. Something big, something that does for Super Mario what Skyward Sword is doing for Zelda. Not "New Super Mario Bros Mii", not another Galaxy game, nope. Something new. And i'd prefer a return of the hub worlds of SM64 & SM Sunshine. Those were awesome to explore themselves! Also, launch with Pikmin 3, or some other cult favorite. In addition, within the first year, promise and deliver on a slew of first party titles. A new Metroid Prime. F-Zero. A new yoshi game, anyone? Etc.
5. Have any DLC stores (Wiiware, eShop, whatever they call it) all up and running with a large library of all games currently available for download on Wii, plus more, plus gamecube games, and they can even add portable games to the library since they are already on the 3DS, i would buy some classic gameboy games to play on a big TV, or even just the Wii U controller!
6. Have the Wii U's internet system all set up and ready to go with User names for accounts, better looking "Miis" with more options, and because of the user names, do away with the need for friend codes. Just have user/account names, let us be able to make friends lists and parties, having chat built in (microphone on Wii U controller) video chat (again wii u controller) etc. Include a browser, netflix, and whatever else they got. The Wii U controller could very easily become a virtual keyboard a la iPad to make for some very easy browsing via Wii U.

Basically what I'm saying is, do what's expected of a console by now, and go above & beyond that. Have more power than 360/ps3, have a lot more power. Launch within a reasonable but serious price range. Launch with some of the best games Nintendo can make, show us what this system can do. Launch with support from 'hardcore' favorites that blow this current generation's counter parts of the same games out of the water. Launch with all the nuts and bolts and kinks worked out of the online infrastructure to make it really comparable and better than XBL and PSN. Then, Nintendo will have a great launch and kick off the next generation, putting some serious heat on Microsoft and Sony to launch another system.



lex0plex said:

Here is what I suggest:

Nintendo should sell the Wii U at at a loss and release it in summer. Launch games should include at least 3, popular franchise games (a Pikmin, Donkey Kong, and Mii game for example). Near Christmas, bring the price of the system up a bit, but include things like an extra controller or game and have several 3rd party games out or coming out by then.

Also they should try to keep game quality higher than most of the games that came out on the Wii and the Wii U should have great online features like an online profile and achievements. It should also support DVDs.



OldBoy said:

To me WiiU sounds great in principle but I fear in reality it won't deliver on its promises.My main fear for it is the fact that by the time it comes out the XBox720 (Definitely) and the PS4 (Possibly) will be right around the corner thus leaving Nintendo stuck with the lower powered machine yet again.Which means the promise of really great 3rd party support will probably not come to fruition.
Don't get me wrong I'm no graphics whore but I do want to play the latest releases which is why I was forced to buy a 360 this gen.Come next gen I really think that I will be choosing just one console and that has to be the one that gives me great 3rd party games.Sure I love Nintendo games but they only come round once in a blue moon. I'll be a late adopter of this for sure however it pans out.Got my fingers burnt with the 3DS and won't be doing that again.
As for selling at a loss I don't really care,the're the business dudes, they can decide.Lets be honest if it's got the games you wanna play then you'll pay over the odds for it whatever.
They really need to improve their online stuff too.The E-shop is a joke, and Wiiware and VC are dying a slow death (poor things so much potential) maybe they will get it right with the WiiU.I hope so anyway.



Nin-freak said:

Get a good online structure.

If their's one thing hardcore and casual gamers have in common, it's they like online gaming/socializing.

How bout making an online community like Raptr for finding friends? All your stats can be shown to the world, and no more friend codes.



kyoya said:

it'll sell this is nintendo were talking about if they it want to sell frist they need to keep their pormises frist then should add more to it before they luanch but they need to stay confindent i like ps3 and 360 alittle but when nintendo present the new console those 2 want to rush out with a better one it's ironic that's what happend for the wii to be honest i don't give a fack about the graphics i just want to play games that are good but if their serious about sell they need to keep strategizing more on what they on their consle to catch the eye of the people




ambassador56 said:

Downloadable Gamecube Games!!!! LOZ: OoT MQ/WW, SMSunShine, PaperMario TYD. Also DS originals like Pokemon, Super Mario 64DS, Nintendogs.



alLabouTandroiD said:

Aside from having a great diversity of launch (window) titles with a huge concentration on up to date online and the system's unique features the price of the games must be right. From Mario Galaxy on i could get nearly every great Wii title new for 39 € at max. Since so far i can't see the WiiU doing more than delivering better graphics i'm not sure if i'll be willing to shell out more for its games.



ivevamm said:

In the E3 conference 2011 they mentioned Batman: Arkham City for the Wii U, that is the only way to go for them, TOP titles right away, and exclusive titles. Also I think that if they went a bit like Apple (maybe even working together) and made an app-store (facebook, twitter) for the Wii U - that would certainly widen the range of users and interest. A combination of the gaming in the Wii and the social functionality of the iPad. + the Wii U should be able to watch videos on YouTube, which the 3DS and Wii lacks.




ivevamm said:

Also they must move away from the "family" franchise and move over to the action games. But stick to Zelda and Mario.



I-U said:

What I really want to see from the Wii U is something new. It's trying to provide plenty of play options, but they all have been done by Nintendo before. Touch screen? DS and 3DS. Motion controls? Wii. Playing games on the controller rather than on the TV, basically equates to a handheld experience something I've had plenty of. If that's its "new thing" than I expect handheld pricing. HD graphics are new for Nintendo, but dedicated platforms involving that power has been done. Ultimately, anything above the $250 is going to be a hard sell for me in regards to the Wii U. I'll also plan on staying away from the Wii U if its games are $59.99 new each.



Sean_Aaron said:

As long as the basic infrastructure is ready I'll be happy. I think if I had been an early Wii adopter having to wait for things like the shop would have been a bit annoying.

Offer an incentive for existing Wii owners to trade-up (£50 off?) and I think you'll have a pretty decent launch.



Blue_Yoshi said:

In order for the Wii U to succeed it has to have strong titles and strong exclusives as well. The online service cant be gimmicky or expensive like the Wii VC and they are investing in DLC which is always a good thing. Imagine all the Zelda DLC they can release? So much potential.



Gamesake said:

@ivevamm Nintendo wants more variety to accommodate hardcore gamers for sure, but if they ditch the family stuff it will not go well for them. The Wii U would be in for a brutal uphill battle similar to the GameCube. All Nintendo wants to do is maintain the popularity of the Wii and get the same hardcore third party games found on the PC, Xbox 360, and PS3.



boob said:

Nintendo should suprise everyone with uber low price. Then concentrate on making money from th3 hard work of creating content and originality that is a great interactive experience.



Nintendoro said:

I'm still very much planing to buy it day one. I genuinely think there will be a slight loss with every console, just like with 360 and ps3. In the end they gave profit, didn't they? So why can't Nintendo make a sacrifice in the beginning and in the longer run get the profit? They are so aware to loose a penny with every console that they decided not to include HDD and other necessary features that we need so bad.. Why aren't MS and Sony so aware? Their consoles are loaded with extras and they lost a lot of money in the beginning, and now they are laughing with cash they have made.. Common Nintendo, stop crying and be cool for once!

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