Today is Wii U day, with multiple events and broadcasts for each region lifting the lid on launch details. We've already had an initial broadcast from Japan, which was a rather busy 20 minutes of details about the hardware, as well as confirmation that the system will be released on 8th December in that region. You can read our summary of what we know so far, including information on the bundles, memory options and the all-new Nintendo Network Premium.
With the European and North American events getting ever closer, we thought we'd outline our expectations based on what's been confirmed for Japan.
Two Hardware Bundles
Like Japan, we expect there to be two bundles. Previous rumours have suggested as many as three SKUs, but we'd be surprised if Nintendo goes beyond two for fear of confusing customers. In terms of bundles, we'd predict the following prices:
- Basic model (~£250/$300): White system, 8GB storage, AC Power, GamePad, GamePad stand, HDMI, and Nintendo Land.
- Premium model (~£300/$350): Black system, 32GB storage, AC Power, GamePad, GamePad stand, HDMI, Nintendo Land and Nintendo Network Premium for 24 months.
If we're being optimistic we'd love to see those prices at $250 and $300 dollars for the bundles, with equivalent UK prices of £230 and £270. Just because we'd like those price-points, however, doesn't means it's workable for Nintendo; Japanese costs are typically higher than in the West, making a straight currency conversion unreliable, but considering the prices that have been confirmed we think a basic bundle at $250 may be a stretch.
Nintendo Network Premium was confirmed during the Japanese unveiling as a pack-in with the premium console, which provides 10% discount on download software for two years after launch: details on whether the discount has limitations will no doubt emerge as the day progresses. Those bundle predictions are also optimistic on the grounds that they include Nintendo Land. We have our doubts about this due to the size of the title, and whether Nintendo would be willing to essentially give it away; the lack of a Nintendo Land bundle in Japan hasn't influenced this, as Nintendo's homeland didn't bundle Wii Sports with Wii systems. Another possibility is that Nintendo Land will be bundled with the Premium pack only, or perhaps alternative software will feature instead of the mini-game collection.
Those are the basics, but unlike the streamlined information from Japan we expect more salesmanship and hype in the North American and European broadcasts — it's also encouraging that another Japanese event will take place, showing that reveals are planned. We expect details, perhaps a conclusive list, of launch day titles, and would be amazed if this list doesn't include New Super Mario Bros. U, which is already confirmed for Japan.
Much is likely to be made of Miiverse, and we also expect to catch a first glimpse of the Wii U digital platform, likely to be branded as the eShop like its 3DS brethren. At this late stage a tour of the system's operating system seems likely, and it would be no surprise if there's a heavy emphasis on download games and online functionality.
New Game Titles
Our most optimistic hope, also, is for a big, previously unannounced first-party game. It won't necessarily be a launch game, but could be a project planned for release by Holiday 2013. We'd love to see what Retro Studios has been working on, for example, especially as whisperings online suggest it may have been withdrawn from E3 at the eleventh hour. We've written previously about the importance of the Wii U press event, and believe that Nintendo should come out with at least one large-scale and brand new announcement.
Along with Japan we would expect Nintendo to offer a heavily discounted Wii console for the immediate future; when they withdraw the old console from the market is yet to be seen.
We'll find out in a few short hours, of course, so its not long to wait before we know what Nintendo has in store for us. Until then, we'd love to read your own predictions in the comments below.