Wii U pricing is ‘most important element’, says Nintendo

With a ton of games announced, the GamePad controller detailed, and the Miiverse explained, there are still two major questions surrounding the Wii U: price and release date.

We have a general idea of the latter, with Nintendo having already said the Wii U will launch during the holiday season 2012. As for pricing, that still remains a mystery – which is odd considering Nintendo boss Satoru Iwata has admitted that pricing for the Wii U is "one of the most important elements".

Speaking to Gamasutra, Iwata said, "Being first in the next generation race is not important at all."

"One of the reasons we believe this is the time for Nintendo to launch the Wii U is it's going to be important for the world."

Bold statement aside, not everyone will agree with Iwata. After all, one of the reasons people often use for the Xbox 360 establishing such a dominant lead over the PS3 is the one year head start Microsoft had on Sony with the current generation. But then look at the original Wii's sales. Having released after the Xbox 360, the Wii leads the current generation in overall lifetime worldwide sales, as of the first quarter of 2012. So does arriving first to the console scene really matter all that much?

Iwata argues that pricing, more than anything, is the most important element. And Nintendo has already said the Wii U will be priced "reasonably" in order to avoid the same mistake they ran into with the Nintendo 3DS.

"The pricing of Wii U is going to be one of the most important elements when it is going to be launched," he said. "The environment is different. Wii U is going to be launching in a different environment than when the Wii was launched. Also, the involvement surrounding [mobile and social] businesses is different than several years ago."

Still, there are those who believe the Wii U's early launch will actually hinder the system and that Nintendo's new system is already dead. With Microsoft and Sony allegedly working on next-gen consoles of their own, many believe in a few years the Wii U will be irrelevant due to its lack of power. The Wii's "lack of power" compared to the Xbox 360 and PS3 didn't seem to hurt that console's sales. While we haven't heard much about the system's specs, many are debating the graphical capabilities of the Wii U, arguing that it barely surpasses that of the current gen.

Iwata addressed those concerns and statements, and basically told them to stuff it.

"Even when we were going to launch the Wii system, there were a lot of voice saying 'Nintendo should stop making hardware'," he says. "The reasoning behind that was Nintendo would not have any chance against Microsoft and Sony. The fact of the matter was: I did not think Nintendo should compete against these companies with the same message and same entertainment options for people. 

"We have not changed our strategy. In other words, we just do not care what kind of 'more beef' console Microsoft and Sony might produce in 2013. Our focus is on how we can make our new console different than [others]."

Those words echo what we previously heard from Iwata back in February when he told investors that the Wii U isn't competing with future Xbox and PlayStation consoles. Rather, Nintendo is balancing graphical improvements and innovative technologies aimed at creating a "dynamic range of appeals that consumers can appreciate". One of those innovative technologies is the Wii U GamePad controller which offers gamers a second screen similar to that of a tablet device.

Will that be enough to entice consumers? As I said before, the Wii U will need an enticing launch lineup and reasonable price.