Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot believes that Nintendo’s Wii U console, launching next week in the US and November 30 in the UK, isn’t priced aggressively enough.
In the UK, the console will cost around £249.99 for the white 8GB version, and £299.99 for the black 32GB console.
“I always prefer lower pricing, so I can’t say I’m happy,” he told Gamesindustry.biz. “I’m never happy when the machines are expensive. What we have to do there is remember that compared to an iPad, it’s cheap. With what it brings [to gaming] it’s cheap. But I hope they’ll be able to drop their price in time.”
Ubisoft is backing the console with a significant number of games scheduled for release during the launch window, including ZombiU, Rayman Legends and Assassin’s Creed III, so will clearly be hoping for a large installed userbase from the off.
Given that inevitable PS3 and Xbox 360 price drops loom next year, Guillemot’s fear that the Wii U’s price point may put off potential buyers is understandable. But while, to those of us who’ve lived through a few generations of hardware, there is a general sense that Wii U is a mid-generation step ahead of the eventual release of PS4 and Microsoft’s next console among, it’s hardly likely to go the way of the Dreamcast.
More than that, the console’s early adopters are not Nintendo’s main focus – its family target market is unconcerned with idea of processing power. Wii U is simply the newest, shiniest hardware – hardware proven, in many minds, by the wildly successful Wii.
Last month, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata revealed that Wii U will initially sell at a loss – the first Nintendo hardware to begin its life unprofitable – making any kind of 3DS-style price drop early on in the console’s life extremely unlikely.
While it’s easy to suggest that Nintendo may have been able to sell at a profit from the off if it hadn’t invested so heavily in its expensive, and somewhat divisive, GamePad controller, the fact remains that its tablet-style interface sets the console apart from its peers. And Nintendo has proven time and again that it can thrive by distancing itself from the traditional console market.