Looking back, is it worth it?

Reggie
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Back in September of last year (2006), Nintendo held a much awaited press conference that would unveil the last coveted details of their highly anticipated next(new)-gen console, the Nintendo Wii. Nintendo of America president, Reggie Fils-Aime, took the stage in New York and fulfilled every fanboy’s dreams by finally setting a price and release date. November 19th, 2006 at a price point of $249.xx, the Wii would see its worldwide debut, in North America. Included in the box: 1 Wii Console, 1 Wii Remote Controller, 1 Nunchuk Controller, all cables and usuals (manuals, etc.), and Wii Sports packed-in. As expected, the internet gaming community (watching live feeds via several sources) exploded with praise and criticism in nearly equal amounts. What were the main gripes? Do we even remember at this point? As far as I can remember, the complaints that most came up with were:

• The price
• The inclusion of Wii Sports
• The release date
• The exclusion of a second Remote/Nunchuk combo
• A few other small details

I, admittedly, feverishly argued each of these points in Nintendo’s favor that day, regardless of the fact that, obviously, I would’ve loved it to be released sooner, as well as cheaper. Despite which side you were on then, we all have an infinitely better grasp on what the Wii is now, and how far our $249.xx went. What do each of those objections look like in the post-launch light, and did Nintendo silence those asking, “Is it worth it?�

I don’t care if it’s the cheapest next-gen console!
More than anything else, the price was arguably the biggest point of contention post-press conference. The general consensus was that most would’ve been happy with a $199.xx price point. $249.xx was just too high for a Gamecube 1.5 (I don’t agree with that at all, but that’s another article). Well I have a sneaking suspicion that if Nintendo did set a $199.xx price point, the complainers would’ve then expressed how it was too expensive, and a $179.xx price would’ve been good for them. Unfortunately, some people are never satisfied, and most of the people complaining were teenage gamers, without a good grasp on how a business works. As a business, Nintendo exists to make profit. To most it would make sense, but for some, it seemed a hard pill to swallow. Shortly after, we discovered that Nintendo would make a profit on each unit sold from day one. There were many howls that Microsoft and Sony both lost money on each unit sold, that people might have even thought they could change the Big N’s mind. It was distressful to me, because it made sense to me that, unlike Microsoft and Sony, Nintendo is solely in the business of games. They aren’t a mega-corporation with endless facets of revenue. They never flinched when questioned on their price, and I applaud Nintendo on being efficient enough to produce an incredible machine that consumers are excited about, and Ninty can make profit from it.

Some also complained, with a thin veil, that they felt Nintendo was being hypocritical. They were convinced that Nintendo was alienating the non-gamer they had preached so much about. $250 was too much money to justify a gaming console to the non-gamer. Not even three months since launch, I’m pretty sure we can all agree this argument is completely obsolete. Most non-gamers I’ve spoken to (coworkers, family members, acquaintances) have expressed their interest in the Wii when I mention I have one. When I mention the price, and that a game comes packed-in, most are pleasantly surprised that it isn’t $500, it’s in fact half of that. Of course my small sphere of influence isn’t a good gauge for the whole of society. The fact that its impossible to find a Wii in stock seems to show that the Wii is priced just right for the non-gamer.

There was also the argument from some that said they could have a true next-gen console, Xbox 360, for merely $50 more. Unfortunately, they ignored the fact that most gamers agree the core system doesn’t really get the job done. It doesn’t come with a game, it doesn’t come with a hard-drive, you can’t play any games online, and the one controller it comes with, is wired. A weak argument at best, it couldn’t even hold weight then, as most who mentioned it, also admitted they’d never be caught dead owning one.

Even though we know, now, the price of the components that make up the Wii, and recognize that Nintendo makes a good profit currently, I think most are happy with what they got for their $250. For most, the price is justified, and is an argument that has, for the most part, been put to rest. Unfortunately, some still argue about their disdain for the pack in of Wii Sports.

Who Wants Free Games?

Wii Sports reveal
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“What? You’re upset about getting a game for free? I’m not sure I understand…� I have felt this way ever since finding out that we were getting Wii Sports packed in, in North America (and every other region, except Japan). This is the first time a game has been packed in with a console since the Super Nintendo came with Super Mario World. It seemed like a sweet deal to me, to be able to walk home with a free game in tote. Once again an issue of price, most complained that they didn’t want what they saw as a glorified tech demo to be forced onto them, if excluding it meant a drop in price. Now that most have played it though, I think, for the most part, we can all agree that Wii Sports can hold its own as a game. It certainly couldn’t ever be considered a fully fleshed out game, but each minigame with its own intricacies, Wii Sports has been one of the brightest gems in the launch lineup, even winning several AIAS awards.

On top of that, it was an ingenious move towards getting the non-gamer interested. From launch day, the consumer has only needed to buy the console itself. They can go home and fully play the Wii from day 1 without having to buy anything else. I also agree with others, that Nintendo will most likely unpack Wii Sports in 6 months to a year, and keep the price at $250. While it was a demo, Nintendo did do something similar with the DS and the Metroid Prime Hunters demo. So I think it will prove to be a moot point in the future.

The Release Date
At the time leading up to the press conference, everyone seemed to agree that Nintendo would almost certainly beat the Playstation 3 to launch. Nintendo again surprised everyone, and disappointed some, by announcing a release date of November 19th, 2006, 3 days after the Playstation 3 release date, and a week after the release of Gears of War. Aside from just wanting to play it as soon as possible, most fans/critics thought it a mistake to release the Wii after the PS3. Not only did it feel like a missed opportunity, but it just seemed like Nintendo had a better grip on production than Sony. Luckily, Nintendo knew exactly what they were doing. Releasing in November gave Nintendo plenty of time for word of mouth to spread. Not only that, but when Sony turned away masses due to limited production, Nintendo was able to fill the gap for some of those who were turned away. Limited in their own supply, Nintendo sold out of units almost instantly, riding on the media frenzy that covered thousands of people camping out for PS3’s. But while most were camping out for PS3’s to make a quick buck, almost everyone was in it for the fun with Wii. November also set up Nintendo perfectly for the holidays: a solid month until Christmas, but not too much longer to where the hype could die down before the busiest time of the year. Fast forward to 3 months later and a buying rate of nearly 3 games to every 1 console, Nintendo is still proving that it is all about the fun.

No 2nd Remote?
1 remote and 1 Nunchuk seemed like a nonissue to most, since a second controller hadn’t been included with a system since the Super Nintendo. However, the fact that there wasn’t a second remote/Nunchuk combo included in the box made some people feel that Nintendo was turning its back on the entire concept of “Wii.� If the Wii was supposed to be about being inclusive, not only with non-gamers, but just in getting more people playing, how could Nintendo only include 1 remote? I personally saw it as a trade off. I think Nintendo evaluated which would be more practical, a game or a second controller set, and obviously understood the merit of including a game. What good are two controllers without any games? At the time, also, most didn’t understand that Golf and Bowling (two of the best Wii Sports) could be played by up to four people with just one remote. Bowling, for me, has been the most inclusive game I can share with anyone, and they haven’t flinched once about using only one controller. Another issue that’s been put to rest, Nintendo has pretty much erased any concern that any of us had on that September day.

Miscellaneous Issues
There were a few other minor issues people brought up, that have all pretty much fallen to the way side. One such issue was the price of the remotes and nunchuks. Previously unknown, the price of the remote was announced at the press conference as $39.99. The nunchuk, sold separately, was announced at $19.99. Becoming a much larger issue than Nintendo probably expected, $60 for the combination never seemed outrageous to me when gamers end up paying $50 for a wireless 360 controller, with nearly no new technology in it. Also, with no games as of yet priced at $60 for the Wii, it’s the better trade off, in my opinion, to be able to pay $10 less for all games because you should never have to buy more than 4 sets of controllers. The other main issue I seem to remember is that some gamers thought a few free Virtual Console downloads should’ve been included in the box. While it would’ve been nice, I don’t think Nintendo’s regretting excluding some form of free downloads, with the recently announced sales of over 1.5 million VC games. No DVD playback was also an issue, but most argued back that almost everyone owns a DVD player. On top of that, if you don’t, they’re $30-40 for a cheap one. Actually, I always thought this was a stupid argument, but now that my VCR/DVD player won’t play, and my Playstation 2 is having issues as well, I wouldn’t mind watching DVD’s via my Wii. Other minor issues were brought up, but most were silenced then.

Well, was it?
Nearly 3 months after the launch, I think most could agree that Nintendo squarely justified every decision made, including price point. Units are still impossible to find, as well as controllers/nunchuks. Wii Sports is such a hit its even been featured on Late Night with Conan O’ Brien. While I feel that some of the complaints had some weight, I also felt that many of them were unrealistic, and were brought up as if Nintendo was our grandparents and they weren’t spoiling us like they should. I think the video game industry in general has closer ties to its audience/consumers than other forms of media/entertainment. In many ways this is great, as it allows for us as consumers to feel as if our feedback matters. However, sometimes I feel it creates problems, because if something doesn’t go our way (release date pushed back, feature omitted), then we feel like we’ve been betrayed. People need to understand that Nintendo is, first and foremost, a business. That being said, I really think they tried their best to deliver a product that not only met their goals, and satisfied our needs. And once Nintendo got the Wii into people’s hands, it was hard for anyone to be disappointed, because they were just too busy having fun.

What do you think? Was Nintendo vindicated in each decision made? Do you still have complaints? Gripe about them in the comments/forums!

wusscore84@yahoo.com'
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About the author:

Floating World – who has written posts on NintendoFuse.


  • MJ

    I hated the fact that there was only one included controller-set. I can understand not including all 4, but at least 2 sets, come on, don’t be greedy.
    I wish the Wii would play DVDs. I have no DVD player, I have the money to buy, but not the space. And then the Wii could probably upscale them to 480p as well (that would suffice). Using my laptop sucks because it is so loud.
    No free VC titles is OK with me, I just believe the prices are a tad high in general, Nintendo should consider the Emulator scene more.
    Good article

  • MJ

    I hated the fact that there was only one included controller-set. I can understand not including all 4, but at least 2 sets, come on, don’t be greedy.
    I wish the Wii would play DVDs. I have no DVD player, I have the money to buy, but not the space. And then the Wii could probably upscale them to 480p as well (that would suffice). Using my laptop sucks because it is so loud.
    No free VC titles is OK with me, I just believe the prices are a tad high in general, Nintendo should consider the Emulator scene more.
    Good article

  • MJ

    I hated the fact that there was only one included controller-set. I can understand not including all 4, but at least 2 sets, come on, don’t be greedy.
    I wish the Wii would play DVDs. I have no DVD player, I have the money to buy, but not the space. And then the Wii could probably upscale them to 480p as well (that would suffice). Using my laptop sucks because it is so loud.
    No free VC titles is OK with me, I just believe the prices are a tad high in general, Nintendo should consider the Emulator scene more.
    Good article

  • MJ

    I hated the fact that there was only one included controller-set. I can understand not including all 4, but at least 2 sets, come on, don’t be greedy.
    I wish the Wii would play DVDs. I have no DVD player, I have the money to buy, but not the space. And then the Wii could probably upscale them to 480p as well (that would suffice). Using my laptop sucks because it is so loud.
    No free VC titles is OK with me, I just believe the prices are a tad high in general, Nintendo should consider the Emulator scene more.
    Good article

  • MJ

    I hated the fact that there was only one included controller-set. I can understand not including all 4, but at least 2 sets, come on, don’t be greedy.
    I wish the Wii would play DVDs. I have no DVD player, I have the money to buy, but not the space. And then the Wii could probably upscale them to 480p as well (that would suffice). Using my laptop sucks because it is so loud.
    No free VC titles is OK with me, I just believe the prices are a tad high in general, Nintendo should consider the Emulator scene more.
    Good article

  • MJ

    I hated the fact that there was only one included controller-set. I can understand not including all 4, but at least 2 sets, come on, don’t be greedy.
    I wish the Wii would play DVDs. I have no DVD player, I have the money to buy, but not the space. And then the Wii could probably upscale them to 480p as well (that would suffice). Using my laptop sucks because it is so loud.
    No free VC titles is OK with me, I just believe the prices are a tad high in general, Nintendo should consider the Emulator scene more.
    Good article

  • Bishop

    I agree. The $250 price tag is definately decieving when anyone that wants to play boxing (a PACK-IN game) need another controller and nunchuck. Then comes those prices on VC games. While I did buy a few, I think that $5 for old nintendo games that I could buy for real at a used shop for less than that is a tad too much. I think that they should really think about what there doing on that front because I think after a while there will be a drop off.

  • Bishop

    I agree. The $250 price tag is definately decieving when anyone that wants to play boxing (a PACK-IN game) need another controller and nunchuck. Then comes those prices on VC games. While I did buy a few, I think that $5 for old nintendo games that I could buy for real at a used shop for less than that is a tad too much. I think that they should really think about what there doing on that front because I think after a while there will be a drop off.

  • fable88

    It was so totaly worth it.

  • fable88

    It was so totaly worth it.

  • http://www.zombiefood.com/ whitey

    “When the Wii was announced, people criticized it. I thought they were wrong and stupid. I still think they are wrong and stupid.”

    WELL WRITTEN ARTICLE DUDE!

  • http://www.zombiefood.com whitey

    “When the Wii was announced, people criticized it. I thought they were wrong and stupid. I still think they are wrong and stupid.”

    WELL WRITTEN ARTICLE DUDE!

  • Jim

    I thought the main gripe was about the name?

    Anyways, my main concerns are lack of selection on VC (well the games I want arent on there anyways…) and that some VC games may be priced a little high. But I really like that VC saves where you were unlike many of the original consoles.

  • Jim

    I thought the main gripe was about the name?

    Anyways, my main concerns are lack of selection on VC (well the games I want arent on there anyways…) and that some VC games may be priced a little high. But I really like that VC saves where you were unlike many of the original consoles.

  • icedog

    They’re still adding more VC games. Can’t you be patient?

  • icedog

    They’re still adding more VC games. Can’t you be patient?

  • http://reefinyateef.blogspot.com/ reefinyateef

    I think that Nintendo made some very wise moves with this console launch. I was definitely mad at Nintendo for only includinig one Wiimote. Since they make a profit on each console, including an extra Wiimote would either decrease their profit or cause them to lose a bit on each console. Other than that, everything is great. The VC prices are perfect – people seem to forget that you are paying for the convenience of playing the games on the Wii.

  • http://reefinyateef.blogspot.com reefinyateef

    I think that Nintendo made some very wise moves with this console launch. I was definitely mad at Nintendo for only includinig one Wiimote. Since they make a profit on each console, including an extra Wiimote would either decrease their profit or cause them to lose a bit on each console. Other than that, everything is great. The VC prices are perfect – people seem to forget that you are paying for the convenience of playing the games on the Wii.

  • http://www.xanga.com/relaxing_roth Roth

    *Idea: Request your favorite VC games on the new Everyone Votes Channel!

    Example:
    Would you want Super Mario Bros. 3 or Donkey Kong Country on VC?
    (Super Mario Bros. 3) (Donkey Kong Country)

    // Roth

  • http://www.xanga.com/relaxing_roth Roth

    *Idea: Request your favorite VC games on the new Everyone Votes Channel!

    Example:
    Would you want Super Mario Bros. 3 or Donkey Kong Country on VC?
    (Super Mario Bros. 3) (Donkey Kong Country)

    // Roth

  • silentchuck

    The ability to remap Virtual Console controls on GameCube controllers would have been nice.

    Also, in general, I just want more info on Smash Bros Brawl. Other than that, no complaints so far!

    Although, now that I think of it, the Wii-DS connectivity has yet to be explained…

  • silentchuck

    The ability to remap Virtual Console controls on GameCube controllers would have been nice.

    Also, in general, I just want more info on Smash Bros Brawl. Other than that, no complaints so far!

    Although, now that I think of it, the Wii-DS connectivity has yet to be explained…

  • icedog

    Yeah… Brawl news is at a crawl. It should speed up before summer though. The best place to keep checking is here: http://www.smashbrawl.com/

  • icedog

    Yeah… Brawl news is at a crawl. It should speed up before summer though. The best place to keep checking is here: http://www.smashbrawl.com/

  • http://www.christyree.com/ Clever Chris

    To really be able to enjoy the wii it can cost a lot of money. The console is $250. Then another $70 for another controller and nun chuck. Then added in the cost of games, which is really a moot point because all console games cost a lot.

    I also agree that the VC games are way too expensive. $10 for a N64 games! Also $5 for NES game. I mean come on I’m only going to play it for 10 mins so I can relive my childhood for a few minutes.

    I don’t want to sound too negative because I love my Wii! It is truly a different, and I think better, gaming experience then my Xbox 360. But Nintendo shouldn’t charge so much for the VC games!

  • http://www.christyree.com Clever Chris

    To really be able to enjoy the wii it can cost a lot of money. The console is $250. Then another $70 for another controller and nun chuck. Then added in the cost of games, which is really a moot point because all console games cost a lot.

    I also agree that the VC games are way too expensive. $10 for a N64 games! Also $5 for NES game. I mean come on I’m only going to play it for 10 mins so I can relive my childhood for a few minutes.

    I don’t want to sound too negative because I love my Wii! It is truly a different, and I think better, gaming experience then my Xbox 360. But Nintendo shouldn’t charge so much for the VC games!

  • Floating World

    Thanks for the comments guys. I still don’t understand being upset about not getting a second controller when no console comes with one. Either way, I could’ve discussed VC pricing, but I was trying to focus on the press conference, and I wasn’t sure if the pricing scheme was mentioned then.

    ~Dan

  • Floating World

    Thanks for the comments guys. I still don’t understand being upset about not getting a second controller when no console comes with one. Either way, I could’ve discussed VC pricing, but I was trying to focus on the press conference, and I wasn’t sure if the pricing scheme was mentioned then.

    ~Dan

  • Mack2D2

    When compared to the other consoles on the market… it was totally worth it.

  • Mack2D2

    When compared to the other consoles on the market… it was totally worth it.

  • fattygordon

    Thanks, excellent analysis of pre and post launch sentiment. You’re completely correct on price point, Wii Sports, and the release date. I firmly believe the Wii would not have been nearly as successful without Wii Sports packaged in. What other game on the Wii could have been accessible (I mean playable) to that many people?

    I agree with you on the 2nd remote also. It’s not a must-have for any console, and I think people were asking a little too much to demand a 2nd remote. I also believe this was more of a business decision than anything else. Reasons: profit, supply, and strategy. Like you said, Nintendo can’t afford to sell these consoles at a loss. They have been sold out of Wiis and Remotes for months, would most people prefer less Wii Consoles but more Wii Remotes? When you have limited production you can’t do both. This was also part of the strategy, Nintendo knew it would lower their number of Wiis produced if they were to include an extra Remote. I think Wii Play was part of this Remote strategy all along also, what better way to get people to buy another game showcasing the Wiis technology?

    Most fandboys don’t realize that the people running these businesses are far smarter than them and actually know what will work best for the company. I think this launch has proven Nintendo knows exactly what they’re doing.

  • fattygordon

    Thanks, excellent analysis of pre and post launch sentiment. You’re completely correct on price point, Wii Sports, and the release date. I firmly believe the Wii would not have been nearly as successful without Wii Sports packaged in. What other game on the Wii could have been accessible (I mean playable) to that many people?

    I agree with you on the 2nd remote also. It’s not a must-have for any console, and I think people were asking a little too much to demand a 2nd remote. I also believe this was more of a business decision than anything else. Reasons: profit, supply, and strategy. Like you said, Nintendo can’t afford to sell these consoles at a loss. They have been sold out of Wiis and Remotes for months, would most people prefer less Wii Consoles but more Wii Remotes? When you have limited production you can’t do both. This was also part of the strategy, Nintendo knew it would lower their number of Wiis produced if they were to include an extra Remote. I think Wii Play was part of this Remote strategy all along also, what better way to get people to buy another game showcasing the Wiis technology?

    Most fandboys don’t realize that the people running these businesses are far smarter than them and actually know what will work best for the company. I think this launch has proven Nintendo knows exactly what they’re doing.

  • yourname

    heck yah!

  • yourname

    heck yah!

  • Hochiminh

    Most definitely. Look at the variety and popular VC games already relased, fivefirst-party Wii games, and about 30 other third-party Wii games. A lot of Wii online abilities like sharing Mii’s, weather, news, photo, internet, voting. You can even playing Gamecube games. What else can’t you do?

  • Hochiminh

    Most definitely. Look at the variety and popular VC games already relased, fivefirst-party Wii games, and about 30 other third-party Wii games. A lot of Wii online abilities like sharing Mii’s, weather, news, photo, internet, voting. You can even playing Gamecube games. What else can’t you do?

  • icedog

    Also, most of you are forgetting that Wii Sports comes with the Wii. You’re not paying $250 only for the Wii, you’re paying $250 for the console, one controller, one nunchuk, and Wii sports. You can start playing it right off the bat without paying more money. If you buy the Xbox 360 or the PS3, it’s a whole different story. Plus, their games run around $60. I agree that it is obvious that Nintendo made some really good decisions. If they did it any differently, I think they would have had lower sales.

  • icedog

    Also, most of you are forgetting that Wii Sports comes with the Wii. You’re not paying $250 only for the Wii, you’re paying $250 for the console, one controller, one nunchuk, and Wii sports. You can start playing it right off the bat without paying more money. If you buy the Xbox 360 or the PS3, it’s a whole different story. Plus, their games run around $60. I agree that it is obvious that Nintendo made some really good decisions. If they did it any differently, I think they would have had lower sales.

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