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Nintendo may soon announce Wii U price and release date

August 21, 2012|By Alex Pham
  • Nintendo is betting that the Wii U's touch-screen tablet game controller will help it regain prominence among console manufacturers.
Nintendo is betting that the Wii U's touch-screen tablet game controller… (Nintendo Co. )

Nintendo has revealed just about every detail on its next-generation Wii U game console -- except the price tag and when it will hit store shelves.

That could change Sept. 13. The Japanese video game company on Tuesday said it will hold a special event in New York that morning, hosted by Nintendo of America's president, Reggie Fils-Aime.

Nintendo is mum about what Fils-Aime will announce, but the smart money's on the final two bits of data regarding the Wii U. The company's already spilled the beans about the console's technical specifications and some of the launch titles and has allowed people to play with the device in June at the E3 convention in Los Angeles. It even let Jimmy Fallon get his hands on the Wii U in a four-minute infotainment segment on the comedian's late-night show.

Michael Pachter, a Wedbush Securities analyst, said he expected the basic Wii U game system to sell for around $300 or higher.

The Wii U will feature high-definition graphics comparable to Microsoft's Xbox 360 or Sony's PlayStation 3, which currently sell for $200 and $250, respectively. Nintendo is hoping that its novel touch-screen tablet controller and exclusive titles, such as "New Super Mario Bros. U" and "Pikmin 3," will justify a premium price.

Meanwhile, Microsoft and Sony are unlikely to sit still with their pricing. Many in the industry are expecting the two companies to ratchet down the prices of their consoles ahead of Nintendo's Wii U debut, perhaps as soon as this month when the video game sales bonanza kicks off with the sale next week of "Madden NFL 13." Two-thirds of the video game industry's annual sales typically occur from the launch of "Madden" to the end of the year.

"If I had to guess, Microsoft will go first with a price drop next week," said Pachter, when asked about possible price drops.

Such a move would take advantage of the foot traffic through stores as consumers pick up  copies of "Madden." As disposable income continues to shrink, Microsoft and Sony have an incentive to give shoppers an early reason to spend their money before pockets empty out.

The good news is that, no matter how it turns out for the game companies, consumers generally stand to gain the most in a price war.

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