News Article

Talking Point: Nintendo Shrinks Prices and Consoles

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

It's all about the money, mini, money

When we first reported the rumour of a Wii Mini, we made the mistake of including a slightly mocking tagline that referred to flying pigs. With the existing Wii models already selling at such low prices, the concept of Nintendo arranging the manufacturing, packaging and advertising for a new model this late in the day seemed unlikely. Yet, it's a reality, albeit one currently only confirmed for release in Canada. The reaction of some members of the Nintendo Life community was, not surprisingly, bafflement, though in the cold light of day there is some logic to Nintendo's "trial" of Wii Mini, if we can call it that.

When considered alongside recent rumours and confirmed moves to reduce the price of 3DS, it's clear that Nintendo is being aggressive and active in reacting to its markets. Gone are the days when Wii couldn't be manufactured quickly enough for demand, DS was quickly becoming the most successful handheld console ever released and Nintendo was enjoying dizzying profit margins. That's not to say that the company's current position is untenable or disastrous, as despite recent losses it has an impressive war chest of assets; yet change and evolution are clearly required.

What Wii Mini and Nintendo's Black Friday results show us, is that diversity may have to be a source of strength for the company. For example, Microsoft sold 750K Xbox 360 consoles in Black Friday week, easily beating Wii's 300K and Wii U's 400K, though consideration must be given to the fact that Wii U stock would have been in limited quantities. Yet Wii showed decent legs, considering the dearth of new content for the system, and when you throw in 3DS and DS family sales Nintendo had a rather meaty overall total of 1.2 million units sold; let's not forget that DS narrowly outsold 3DS due to "significant" retailer deals, to quote NoA boss Reggie Fils-Aime. Nintendo's range of products — rather than one specific console — helped it to achieve strong results, with distinctly last-generation systems compensating for their age by being affordable and accessible.

And so we return to Wii Mini, a rather cute and attractive version of the core system that's lacking GameCube backwards compatibility — like the first re-released Wii model — while also being stripped of all online capability. It's basically a disc drive with Wii's ageing tech squeezed in, and will be good for playing games alone, with no online play or access to the extensive library on the Wii Shop. Its price of $99 (just over £60 in the UK) raised questions of whether it'd make it to territories such as the U.S. and Europe, yet it seems quite unlikely — aside from a small quantity to tap into collector's desires, perhaps — while the existing model still sells in reasonable numbers.

The new model's lack of internet connectivity may be confusing to many, but plenty of regions — including Canada — don't necessarily have widely-available or reliable broadband services. As highlighted by wired.co.uk, one attraction on Wii, Netflix, would have little impact in Canada; this is due to, in the words of Netflix's chief content officer, "almost third-world access to the internet" in various areas of the country. If a proportion of the population doesn't have a modern broadband connection, then the opportunity to pick up a fun little gaming system at a budget price suddenly makes sense, whereas many customers in countries like the U.S. or UK would likely scoff at a console with no internet capability.

Yet Wii Mini could be a future driving force that allows Nintendo to target countries beyond Canada that are still developing infrastructure such as high speed internet, areas where access to video game systems is more limited or budgets are simply too tight for extravagant purchases. For a low price of entry, and with Nintendo Selects budget games available, new consumers can experience Wii for the first time; it could represent a fresh opportunity to join in with what so many have been enjoying since 2006. Perhaps Canada is, ultimately, a trial ahead of a wider and more ambitious plan to give Wii a PS2-style longevity.

Beyond the Wii Mini, Nintendo's reacting to the economic realities in many major nations and regions, as well as the increasing competition from alternative devices such as tablets and smartphones. Producing new 3DS hardware bundles ahead of a Holiday period is hardly surprising, but the cost of entry to Nintendo's latest handheld is continuing to fall, even though it's less than two years old. Production costs are reduced by bundles with a game pre-installed on the system, rather than packing in a physical copy, while a rumour from this week suggests that the MSRP of the original model is set to fall a further $30 in the U.S., adding to the drastic price cut that was implemented to revive the system in its early days.

As it currently stands, Nintendo couldn't be much more active in its efforts to sell systems, games and accessories to turn a profit. As Black Friday and the emergence of Wii Mini has proven, the famous gaming company is leaving no stone unturned with budget cheap-entry last-gen systems, an increasingly affordable current handheld and, at the top end of the scale, a brand new home console coming in at a comparatively high price. That diversity of products, and the surprising reality that its older products can still sell despite the presence of shinier, newer alternatives, gives Nintendo a fighting chance to achieve success against increasingly challenging odds. Microsoft could say that its home console outsold Nintendo's equivalents during Black Friday, but Nintendo combined four systems to triumph overall.

While Wii and DS family sales will continue to fall back, it's clear that given the right circumstances they can still shift units. It's often asked whether Wii U and 3DS will hit the sales heights of their predecessors, and the realities of a changed world suggest that they have little to no chance of doing so. If Nintendo can continue to maintain a range of systems that sell in reasonable numbers into future generations, however, perhaps that will ensure long term survival and success.

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User Comments (60)

moomoo

#3

moomoo said:

I see no problem with this. Or with any other future platforms that get rid of features over time. It's not like Nintendo is going to stop making regular Wii's. They'll just have more options around.

sandwhich

#4

sandwhich said:

I would have bought it if it came with a screen and without motion controls, so I would have had a gameboy that could play SMG 1 & 2.

EDIT: and would have been released in Europe, but that's a whole other story.

hydeks

#5

hydeks said:

I live in Canada in the middle of nowhere and I have high speed :P Nintendo's just weird, they should have added at least wireless online function. Still for alot of people, they'll love the retro look to it.

Squashie

#6

Squashie said:

I just really dislike the lack of online functionality, for me, it takes consoles back to the Gameboy days.

shingi_70

#7

shingi_70 said:

Lack of online is what kills this model for me. Would love to get a cheap console for only VC.

Moshugan

#8

Moshugan said:

@squashie ''Back to the NES days'' would have been more fitting.
Ironically, you can't play NES VC games on the Wii Mini. :P

True_Hero

#10

True_Hero said:

I now see Nintendo's logic behind this. Still odd, but at least it makes more sense now.

Varia01

#11

Varia01 said:

The Wii Mini is sorta an oddity. I mean, lacking online connection and a Canadian exclusive. The Wii is starting to fail and the Wii U had a related start the 3DS. I do really like the DS. The dual-screen and touch-screen interactivity has been impressive. And the 3DS seems to be a pretty cool handheld too, though I don't have one. It is all so obvious why Xbox 360 is getting more credit (I'm complaining about this subject). The shooters always steals the interest while Nintendo is trying their best to keep gamers entertained. Shooters like Halo or the recent Transformers games do look appealing but other shooters on the Wii U are enhanced like Mass Effect 3 or ZombiU. Why don't those Xbox 360 gamers see the future of gaming? I will never leave Nintendo's path until I am no longer a gamer. (Which may take, say...... 60 to 70 years.) :)

Silvervisiona

#12

Silvervisiona said:

Maybe the Wii mini will break ground into new markets, where wifi is not commonly available. There's still a big big world that could benefit from a budget price streamlined Wii console.

WanderingPB

#13

WanderingPB said:

I believe we can all agree Nintendo makes quality products. My Wii is still in great working condition even though I have a Wii U now. I dont believe the Wii mini is meant for those of us who already have a Wii but rather for those who dont have internet access or the budget to buy any actual gaming console. Sure it looks nice but take my word for it the Wii U is a lot nicer! And from a business perspective the Wii sold 90+ million but there are still a lot of people who dont have it especially outside of regular market countries so ka-ching ka-ching! With the Wii, DS, 3DS and Wii U its obvious nintendo is going H.A.M.!!!

Rect_Pola

#15

Rect_Pola said:

So the Wii Mini is something of a geographical specialist (i.e. made for a region that couldn't give a crap about online). Dropping the backwards compatability is a standard move at this point. Also, it brings back a game console that's only a game console, which is both strangly backwards and refreshing at the same time.

Aqueous

#16

Aqueous said:

I'll be back, I need to gather my my thoughts and points, as well as read this article several times, to make sure I understand it.

theblackdragonAdmin

#17

theblackdragon said:

if it sells, it sells. i just hope it doesn't confuse people too much, thinking they'll be able to play Smash Bros. or MKW online with this system; i'd hate for an unsuspecting parent to pick it up for their kid thinking it's something it's not — or for a kid to expect to be able to go online with it and they can't.

Kyloctopus

#18

Kyloctopus said:

I'm Canadian, and I can say that our Internet access is fine. I would say we play online less than Americans, but not by much.
However I do believe that the launch in Canada is just a test run. Nintendo has been burned on situations like this before (Game Boy Micro) and they don't want to risk wasting time, material, and money to release it in a country 10x more populated than Canada, meaning 10x a bigger loss, or if it works well, 10x a bigger profit.

theblackdragonAdmin

#20

theblackdragon said:

@Tsuchiya: ... i'm not sure what you mean? It's easy to jump the gun and see a new version of something available and just snap it up before someone else does... and then you get it home and open and you're dissappointed. I've also purchased electronic devices that didn't fully explain everything on the box so I had to figure out what was going on when I got home, so i wouldn't put it past them to not have the fact that it won't have online features in print large enough on that box to read.

it's also not going to help that the Wii game boxes are still going to list all of their features regardless of whether all Wii models will be able to play them now or not.

theblackdragonAdmin

#22

theblackdragon said:

@Kylo: You can research all you like, but perfect shopping trips where you find exactly you were looking for don't always happen. When the product you had been looking at isn't in stock and a similar one is on the shelf instead, sometimes you wind up taking a chance.

Klinny

#23

Klinny said:

I live in Canada near Vancouver, and internet accessibility varies throughout the area. Most of us have good, stable connections, but there is a portion of the population that have poor connections and unreliable Wi-Fi access, (particularly those in basement suits who have to share the landlord's internet). Outside the city in the rural areas, many are still using dial-up. I would also imagine there would be more connectivity issues in areas with extreme weather.

However, those rural areas, while they do take up a good deal of space, do not necessarily contain a high percentage of the population. This leads me to view the comment of the country having "'almost third-world access to the internet' in various areas of the country" a little skeptically. In my area at least, online gaming is very popular and families definitely use their gaming consoles for Netflix.

steamhare

#24

steamhare said:

Although this article seems to think that all of the US is hooked up with wonderful broadband over every inch... It's not. There are areas in the country with spotty, crappy coverage. More rural areas here are likely in the same state as Canada's more rural areas.

Kyloctopus

#25

Kyloctopus said:

Who is Nintendo trying to aim toward anyways? I found out on Nintendo's website that this doesn't even include the power cables. Sounds like some sort of shady way to rack more money.

HandheldGuru97

#26

HandheldGuru97 said:

Think of it like this in 1993 Nintendo released the NES 2 (or the top loader model NES) that is TWO years after the SNES launched. They did it again in 1997 the SNES 2. While they didn't continue the tradition with both the N64 and Gamecube Nintendo seems to be going back to the idea of, "Hey if you want to get a your first console or you may have never bought a Wii during its life span why not get this?" I mean without online and Gamecube support if you never owned one you can't miss what you didn't have.

WaveBoy

#27

WaveBoy said:

One of the worst looking consoles of all time. Right up there with the original PS2, the PS3 Slim and the latest PS3 design which is ugly beyond words.

-KwB-

#28

-KwB- said:

This is an amazing product, the Wii mini !! Imagine how many countries they could attract with a console that is more or less 75 euro ? In Europe their leading markets is Germany, Benelux, Spain, France, UK, Italy ... there is still a lot of countries who cannot afford this systems, Wii mini is excellent choice !!!!

Kaine_Morrison

#29

Kaine_Morrison said:

If anyone that lives in Canada is willing, I will send you the money for this WiiNi. I'll also give you a little extra for your trouble.

fortius54

#31

fortius54 said:

Actually, that is not a half bad idea. One, it will introduce their product to new gamers, and neither of their competitors are going after this market. It doesn't make since for us, but in a situation such as the one explained, I can see it making sense.

chiefeagle02

#33

chiefeagle02 said:

I wouldn't mind getting a Wii mini if Nintendo released it in the US. My Wii is dying (2006 launch console, having freezing and internet connection issues) and there are still games for it that I wouldn't mind playing.

SCAR392

#34

SCAR392 said:

What does the artical mean be first re-release of the Wii console? Did they stop making regular Wii's with GCN support recently? I thought all Wii consoles before Mini had GCN support...

SCAR392

#36

SCAR392 said:

Wow, that's a surprise to me... I just thought Wii would always have the GCN capabilities. I guess the $30 cheaper price tag with an extra game is worth it if you don't give a hoot about GCN, which is kind of the case with me now, because I expect GCN games to make it to the eShop, and I sold all my GCN games because I beat them all/needed to move on. Other than me not wanting it anymore, I played all my GCN games in 480p for the first time through Wii, which was a big plus besides having a new console that played completely different games in terms of controllers. GS was selling GCN games for like $1-5 for a while, too that I bought alot of.

SCAR392

#37

SCAR392 said:

Just for the record, I didn't say 'hoot'. Haha... I got my Wii on launch waaaay back in 2006, and with games like DDRevolution that is one of the only other games my brother plays besides the Pikmin games, I guess we payed and extra $100 for GCN backwards support in a way. I guess I'm a year late to the GCN drop.

Aqueous

#38

Aqueous said:

Reasonable as always Tom.
To be honest though, I've scoffed at it, to use your words. A lack of both Gamecube support and Internet seems like such a waste. One of my uses for the Wii was to play Gamecube games, they took that out and now the online? I actually had a good time online with a couple (2) Wii games. If it flops and if only it does, then I might pick one or two up, might be worth something if it dies, otherwise I see no point in getting one. Though top loading does sound like a nice feature compared to the whole system eject and pull games in thing.

@Red_Kinetic - I hope someone can help you.

hendie001

#41

hendie001 said:

Where are you getting your info. Im from Thompson manitoba which is dam near the artic and the high speed there was fine. If you venture into cottage country you might find some dial up but any major centre have high speed.

OuijaU

#43

OuijaU said:

Wow! I've obviously been sleeping, as I haven't checked gaming news for a few days. I just found out that this thing existed. What a pointless SKU, though; no online support, and Nintendo just recently said that they have no new games in the pipeline for the Wii. Also, why is it only available in Canada? What a strange decision. I live in Canada, so I'm not complaining about a Canadian exclusive release, but... we have just over one tenth the population of the U.S.

millarrp

#44

millarrp said:

This would probably be good for somebody like my parents who would want a hand full of games, like wii sports resort, wii fit, etc, and don't care about online access....

OuijaU

#45

OuijaU said:

The stuff about lack of internet access in Canada, though, is just ridiculous, and reflects the ignorance of people reporting such nonsense. The fact is, broadband internet became widely available in most major regions of Canada several years before it was widely available in the U.S. The only places that would have "near third-world" access to the internet would be regions with small populations. We are 36 million people spread out across the 2nd largest country in the world; there are many parts of the country that are virtually unpopulated. 90% of Canada's population is within 160 kilometres of the U.S. border.

OuijaU

#46

OuijaU said:

@Red_Kinetic: I'd be more than willing to do that for you. I wouldn't charge you anything other than the cost of the console and shipping. I know how much it sucks to be excluded from a region-specific release. Let me know if you haven't already figured out something else.

Kaine_Morrison

#47

Kaine_Morrison said:

That'd be a great help. Thank you. If you don't mind, could you PM me in the Forum?
Same UserName.
Thank you again.

StarDust4Ever

#48

StarDust4Ever said:

Atari Jr.
NES toploader
AV Famicom
SNES 2
Genesis 3
Game Boy Micro
PS2 Slim
Wii Mini

Lots of consoles get cost-cutting revisions late in the game, so it's not surprizing to me to say the least. Quite Frankly, I'm not really a fan of the shrunken down late release consoles. The launch models always start out beefy and rugged, while the smaller price reduced models often seem inferior in some way. :P

Of course, there were also the infamous Xbox 360 RROD consoles... :O

ThomasBW84Admin

#49

ThomasBW84 said:

The source for that Canada broadband reference is hyperlinked under wired.co.uk. I'm quoting the netflix guy, he must have had his reasons, but it's interesting to hear otherwise.

As I said in the article, I think Canada's a trial that's easy to run, and I think territories such as India may be the real target for this model. I really don't think a lot of us are the target audience, so it's worth thinking about the wider picture.

Samholy

#50

Samholy said:

geez. i was going to buy the wii mini for the kids then...no online ? hahaha BIG FAIL
i wanted a wii for the snes games and Wiishop. well, another nintendo system i wont get...
oh well. at least, i might be getting another 3DS eventually when my ambassador will show sign of death. the guy is tough, and still plays without fail!

Zombie_Barioth

#51

Zombie_Barioth said:

I'm kinda surprised nobody brought up the PSP and its many incarnations, especially since Sony actually came out with a wifi-less model (E-1000).

Most console revisions aren't as good as the originals for one reason or another. @StarDust The slim PS2 is supposed to be more reliable, however I haven't had much trouble with my original phat one faulty memory card slot aside.

This is a good idea since where as Sony and Microsoft seem to be trying to push for a one size fits all console, Nintendo on the other hand has something to fit any budget.

Vehemont

#52

Vehemont said:

This Wii mini is kinda ugly and with no online functionality it just seems kinda pointless, but Nintendo doesn't care, they just want your money.

Revanmann

#53

Revanmann said:

i love the design, and if it was available in the US and had online and gamecube id for sure buy it in a heart beat as a backup. that way i could play with my current wii's software heheh.

pntjr

#55

pntjr said:

My question is: Why not? It's cheaper and smaller, and it prints money. I don't see the big deal here.

OuijaU

#56

OuijaU said:

@Red_Kinetic: Sorry for taking so long to get back to you. I had a lazy day off work, lying on the couch today. Didn't check my online stuff all day. Anyway, I'm still pretty new to this site, and I don't see any way to send private messages. So, shoot me an email if I haven't figured it out by the time you read this: nods@live.ca

Tricoloryoshi

#57

Tricoloryoshi said:

Maybe I'll get it just for the red wiimote and nunchuck. Also for once Canada is treated special. :) or at least until it gets announced for other places.

iroxursox

#58

iroxursox said:

man wish this was coming to the US because i would totally get it. one thing i have to ask is it compatible with GameCube games. because if it was that would be awesome

SyFyTy

#60

SyFyTy said:

they'll take sweeping, expensive, chances like this but bringing a white 3des (or XL) to NA is out of the question? This is beyond my understanding.... they say US won't buy white, but THIS they'll gamble on?... wow - u.n.b.e.l.i.e.v.e.a.-b-l-e

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