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No price, no release date, no dice. Why Nintendo is hurting themselves by not announcing Wii U launch details

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When Nintendo first announced the Wii U last year at its pre-Electronic Entertainment Expo press conference, we were definitely intrigued by its potential, as you’ll be able to interact between device and television in ways that we couldn’t even imagine beforehand.  However, since its announcement, Nintendo has been kind of iffy on official details.  True, at this year’s E3, it did reveal some more official games for it, like Pikmin 3 and New Super Mario Bros. U, but it also delivered a lackluster press conference when it should’ve been a celebration of the new technology.  But what’s worse, the company hasn’t even unveiled launch details for the device yet.

This holiday season is a crucial one, even though some games have been delayed into 2013, including Bioshock Infinite and Tomb Raider.  We’ll still see a number of huge blockbusters rake in plenty of dollars from gamers, including Halo 4, Assassin's Creed III and Call of Duty: Black Ops II.  However, we can’t help but feel that Nintendo is really shooting itself in the foot by not unveiling launch plans for its Wii U, nor any games that are slated to come out for it.  We know it’s coming this holiday season, but the way it’s withholding information…well, it’s not doing anyone any favors.  Not retailers, and not the customers.

Wii U

Nintendo has been struggling as of late, with a $220 million loss posted for the first quarter, despite the resurgence of Nintendo 3DS unit sales well into 19 million.  So we can understand they might be a little bit cautious when it comes to planning for the Wii U.  But to clam up completely and not provide ANY details as to when we can expect it, how much it’ll cost, or what games we’ll officially be seeing at launch?  Preparation is always part of a good launch.  Ask any publisher.  And it would do Nintendo a world of good here.

No one likes it when a system is launched at the last minute, as it barely gives retailers any time to generate hype or get people to properly set up pre-orders.  For an example of this, let’s take a look back at the launch of the Sega Saturn console in 1995.  Sega thought it was getting a jump on the competition when it surprisingly began shipping units and games to retailers without even a hint of notice, and while a lot of folks were shocked by the news (which was a way to kind of get a leg up on Sony), it also forced people to scramble when it came to hyping and picking up their systems.  What’s worse, the early launch left the system without new software for months at a time, while Sony was more than prepared for the launch of their PlayStation later that year.

Not that Nintendo will go “well, here’s the Wii U, go buy it!”, but it gives you an idea of what kind of preparation retailers need to have for it.  And it also opens up the kind of pre-order window that the system will require as far as fans and casual players getting a crack at it, rather than scrambling to eBay and unfairly paying hundreds more because they didn’t prepare properly enough.  With each day that passes with no new information, Nintendo is hurting themselves more than they possibly realize.  And we can only imagine how frustrated third-party developers are, since they can’t set up a pre-order campaign for games such as Batman Arkham City: Armored Edition or Zombi U, among other games.

Wii U

So Nintendo, you just need to come out and say it.  Tell us when the system is coming (and have the hardware properly prepared for the launch).  Give us an idea what we can expect to spend on it (and for crying out loud, don’t super-price it!).  And most importantly, talk about the games.  It’s vitally important to push the games that will make your hardware the next-gen masterpiece you’re promising it to be.  Hiding details from us and just giving us bits and pieces of “what’s next”, without the opportunity to really invest, is the worst kind of tease.  It’s time to own up and just tell us the facts.  Gamescom, perhaps?

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Robert Workman
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