Despite reporting one of their best sales years ever, Nintendo reported that year over year 2009 saw a significant drop in its Wii console sales over those of 2008. So what does the company that time and again has been responsible for restarting it all do in the midst of bad economic times?
Drop the price. Sort of.
The Nintendo Wii, when it launched in November of 2006, had a MSRP of $249.99 and it came with Wii Sports and a Wiimote/Nunchuck combo. The console had a small internal memory with no hard drive backed by the ability to save to SD flash cards. It had two USB ports in the back for accessories and AV connectivity through RCA plugs (component cable sold separately).
Following the success of Wii Sports, a game that is still exclusive to console sales three and a half years later, Nintendo released Wii Sports Resort in late July 2009 at $49.99 (the price still holds today). In 2009 they had also released the Wii Motion Plus accessory, designed to improve the response of the Wiimote on games that had specific movements like sword fighting. Among the console launch titles, Red Steel was a flop due to poor play control so the release of Red Steel 2 saw developer UbiSoft making a huge deal out of the Wii Motion Plus in their ads. Games like Wii Sports Resort and Red Steel 2 initially shipped with the accessory.
Now we fast forward to yesterday, Mother’s Day 2010 (May 9, 2010) and we see the release of a “new” black Wii and new packaging for the white Wii. The original MSRP had dropped to $199.99 and many retailers had a sale on Wii stock between May 2-May 8, 2010. Fact of the matter was they wanted to keep the new Wii bundle under wraps (despite a leak from a GameStop employee) because no one would buy a Wii for $200 when they could get it for $130.
Wait, what? $130?
Do the math here. Wii Sports Resort is still in stores as a standalone title for $49.99. Despite buying my mother the new Wii for Mother’s Day, I myself had no Wii Motion Plus for my Wiimotes so that cost me $19.99. That means $70 in extras just went into the Wii box and the price stayed the same. Viola! You have a choice now – you can buy the Wii as it was originally packaged for $199.99 (go ahead, check the websites-as of publishing most places still charge full price) or you can spend the same amount and get Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort plus the Wii Motion Plus for the included Wiimote; Wii + game + accessory = $129.99 + $9.99 + $19.99.
Nintendo’s going to get their money. You and I are going to give it to them.