We're in the middle of somewhat peculiar times in the home console market. In the monthly shenanigans that are the NPD results for sales in the US, for example, all of the talk is on PS4 vs Xbox One in terms of a head to head. Nintendo's Wii U isn't often mentioned in that 'race', and even in the most positive months the company has spoken about increased momentum while dodging figures, disguising the fact that — uncomfortable truth or not — the system is tracking well below its rivals in most territories; the exception is Japan, but to be blunt no home consoles are selling well in the country at this time.
As we've argued before, it's not all lost for Wii U. This Holiday season and the first half of 2015 are hugely important for the system and could — if all goes well — elevate it towards a respectable and sustainable userbase; even if the goal is a GameCube to Nintendo 64 range of sales, that would still allow Nintendo to chalk it up as a manageable disappointment and not a dramatic failure. The software on the way and amiibo could certainly help, and Nintendo's messaging and content seems to be lined up to give the system its best chance of luring in more dedicated gamers alongside the all-important family crowd. The big N's targets are remarkably low, anyway, estimating just 3.6 million sales worldwide over the financial year.
The competition has potentially become fiercer today, however, with Microsoft announcing a seasonal discount in the US — from 2nd November until 3rd January 2015 the biggest retailers in the country will be applying a price cut across all Xbox One systems. That means the standard Kinect-free model will drop to $349.99, just $50 above the standard Wii U Deluxe with bundles across both systems naturally varying. When you consider the fact the cut will also apply on bundles — there's a Sunset Overdrive bundle priced at $399.99 which will drop by the same $50 — then the battlelines are drawn. Nintendo does have some attractive bundles of its own available at the standard $299.99 — with Super Mario 3D World and Nintendo Land in one — and others with only a modest mark-up to add a game — like with Mario Kart 8.
Assuming that there are game bundles at the 'standard' price, the US scene looks set to shape up as follows:
Wii U - $299.99
Xbox One - $349.99
PS4 - $399.99
Right now the power is with Sony, with outstanding momentum on the PS4 and plenty of positive press and public perception around the console; this undercutting move from Microsoft is certainly a short term hit on profits to try and win the Holiday crowd. The question is, should Nintendo take a similar hit to be even more affordable and attractive to consumers looking for a new console? Is this wise considering the fact we had a $50 price cut already in 2013? If it were to approach $249.99 for the Holiday-season — the launch price of the Wii in 2006 — would that price-point attract big numbers? Does Nintendo, in light of its modest sales target, even want to gamble?
It looks unlikely, but Nintendo can be unpredictable. With the US still being the most substantial gaming market — in terms of revenue — this is sure to be discussed at some point internally, while naturally other regional fans would want to be rewarded.
We want to know what you think, though. Should Nintendo take the hit on profits per sale and cut prices to battle for more sales, or stick to its current pricing and incentives through bundles? Let us know what you think in the polls and comments below.
Should there be a Wii U price cut this Holiday season? (900 votes)
Definitely, there should be a price cut
I think so, it could be a smart move
I'm not sure
I don't think so, I'm not convinced it's the right move
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Do you think the Wii U will sell well this Holiday season? (871 votes)
Absolutely, it'll do great and outsell PS4 / Xbox One in November / December
I sure do, and expect it to be more competitive with PS4 and Xbox One
Its sales will be in line with Nintendo's projections, but below PS4 and Xbox One
I think it'll sell a little below expectations and struggle
The Wii U's going to have poor Holiday sales
I have no idea
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