Nintendo is hoping a cheaper price and well-known video game characters such as Mario and Zelda will convince shoppers to buy a Wii U this holiday season. The slow-selling system will receive a $50 price cut effective Sept. 20, a discount that comes about two months before the release of new consoles from Microsoft and Sony.
What is now known as the “deluxe” edition of the Wii U will soon retail for $299.99, down from its current $349.99. Since its release last holiday season, the deluxe edition of the Wii U has come packaged with a copy of the game “Nintendo Land” as well as a relatively robust 32 gigabytes of storage.
Both will be included at the reduced price of $299.99.
A more bare-bones version of the Wii U, one without the copy of “Nintendo Land” and just 8 gigabytes of storage, has been reported by other news outlets to be discontinued, but a Nintendo spokeswoman said in an emailed response that the company has “nothing to announce” on the 8-gigabyte edition.
The Wii U, Nintendo’s high-definition follow-up to its 2006 blockbuster console the Wii, has struggled since its November release. Nintendo unveiled in its latest July earnings report that the Wii U continues to have a “negative impact on Nintendo’s profits,” with only 3.6 million units sold worldwide since launch.
Earlier reports suggested that Nintendo had hoped to have sold upwards of 5 million Wii U consoles by this point. The company in the report laid the blame for the sluggish start on the release of “few” first-party titles for the console.
New games have been slow to materialize for the Wii U, and many of the titles promised near launch have been delayed. Only now has Nintendo begun to line up a consistent slate of games for Wii U owners.
The acclaimed “Pikmin 3″ was released in August, and on the horizon is the unique superhero title “The Wonderful 101″ (Sept. 15); a reboot of “The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD” (Sept. 20); and new takes on old franchises with “Super Mario 3D World” (Nov. 22) and “Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze” (Dec. 6).
The lower-priced Wii U is timed to take advantage of the launch of “The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD.” Nintendo will release a limited-edition “Zelda”-branded Wii U, which will include the “Wind Waker” game as well as a GamePad controller adorned with gold lettering, a gold crest from the kingdom in the game and gold symbols, among other “Zelda” accouterments.
Nintendo in 2011 faced a similar slow launch with its handheld system the 3DS. The device was released in March of that year and initially retailed for $249.99. Four months later Nintendo slashed the price of the handheld to $169.99.
The 3DS has long since rebounded and hit a stride in 2013. Games such as “Fire Emblem: Awakening” and “Animal Crossing: New Leaf” make use of the system’s one-of-kind control scheme and have helped propel the system to tally two consecutive months as the leading platform in hardware sales, according to the NPD Group.
In an effort to maintain the momentum of the 3DS, Nintendo on Wednesday also unveiled a more budget-friendly handheld that it is calling the Nintendo 2DS. The system will play all 3DS games but will lack the 3D functionality of the latter.
The 2DS will be released Oct. 12 and will retail for $129.99.
— Todd Martens | @toddmartens
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