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by Mike Zazaian September 14, 2006 - 10:44am, 4 Comments

Why Nintendo's $250 Wii is Gaming Done Right

Nintendo announced this morning that theWii will boast 30 available games at launch, putting it in a great position to take over the world.

Nintendo announced this morning that the much-anticipated Wii will ship for $250 in the US, a price point the company promised it wouldn’t eclipse. Available November 19th, Nintendo will include with its 4 million Wii units a bundle of five games. Titles in the bundle include Wii Tennis, Boxing, Golf, Baseball, and Bowling, all of which should showcase the innovative user-movement tracking available with the Wii’s new Nunchaku controller. The Wii will ship in Japan on December 2nd for approximately 215 US dollars, but won’t include the game bundle in the package.

It’s been a long and rocky road for the Wii. First named the Revolution, Nintendo’s upcoming offering got lost in the muck and mire of last year’s E3 coming out party for the beefed-up Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. So much attention was given to the specs, the power, the Cell, the damn teraflops of its two competing consoles that the Revolution, whose producers didn’t even want to enter the spec, was left out in the cold despite their new movement-savvy hardware.

Microsoft's Xbox 360But a lot has changed since then, and I’m sure that Microsoft and Playstation realize in hindsight that they should have played their hands just like Nintendo did, with a little more finesse. Microsoft’s souped-up rig ran the company into a slew of production problems prior to launch. With only 3 million Xbox 360s shipped in North America by Christmas of 2005, and fewer than 1.5 million to the rest of the world, Microsoft’s launch was not to scale with what they had imagined. As the realization of slow production set in Microsoft lowered their goals to 5 million units worldwide. Microsoft’s power-hungry aspirations may also have led to overheating issues many experienced with Xbox 360’s three-core PowerPC. The one upside for Microsoft was their year-long head start over Sony and Nintendo, which has put them in a good place in the market with a likely 10 million Xbox 360s in already homes by Christmas of 2006.

Sony has run into even more problems with its Playstation 3. Undoubtably the most powerful unit of the trio, it will also be the most expensive. Even more so than Microsoft, Sony and its President Ken Kutragi couldn’t help but stuff as much power under the hood as they were able to. With a 9-core Cell processor and a Blu-ray drive, Sony can’t find a way to sell the units for less than $600 at launch without going bust. At that price the Playstation 3 will run more than twice the cost of the $250 Wii or Microsoft’s $299 base-unit Xbox 360. While many thought the Playstation 3 would follow in its predecessor PS2’s footsteps as the most popular console on the market, analysts have predicted that the high launch price will likely send buyers toward either Nintendo’s or Microsoft’s offering.

So after all that the little Revolution, who in the meantime was renamed “Wii,” finally got some of the spotlight. With its gaming for everyone tagline, the Wii will be the most game-centric console of this generation and will get a great deal of success from this mentality. Whereas Microsoft and Sony have lost their roots a bit, forgetting that gaming is about the games and not the machine that plays them, Nintendo is fully focused on putting out a quality, 30-game offering for its launch on November 19th. The new Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and a Madden 2007 in which users will be able to actually throw the football will certainly make for a better showing than Microsoft’s initial lineup, of which Perfect Dark Zero was the featured title.

Wii is right on track to take the gaming crown back for Nintendo, using its company’s character and love for gaming to re-energize the industry. No longer will the button mashing be standard as the Wii allows its users to use actual, fluid, human movements to play games. Games such as fishing, golfing, any such game that involves basic movement will be given a whole new flare on the Wii. I’m not sure that Nintendo will necessarily penetrate the 50-60 year old market like they’re hoping to, but it’ll certainly appeal to a whole realm of gamers young and slightly-more-old. Ironically, Microsoft considered putting a movement sensor function into the Xbox 360, but they didn’t think it would be very desirable. I guess we’ll have to wait until November 19th to find out for sure.

[via seattlepi]