By Brett Molina, USA TODAY
With the launches of rival devices Xbox One and PlayStation 4looming, Nintendo is chopping the price of its struggling Wii U videogame console.
Nintendo announced the Deluxe version of the Wii Uwill sell for $299.99 starting Sept. 20. The bundle includes a black WiiU console with 32 gigabytes of storage, the tablet-style Gamepadcontroller and a copy of the game Nintendo Land.
Basic bundles of the Wii U - which included no game and an 8-GB hard drive - will no longer be manufactured.
The company is also launching a limited edition bundle featuring The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD for $300. The bundle includes a deluxe console, digital copies of the game and Hyrule Historia, a book chronicling the history of The Legend of Zelda series, as well as a Zelda-themed Gamepad.
Combined with an injection of new first-party games arriving this holiday - including Mario adventure Super Mario 3D World and fitness title Wii Fit U - Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime is confident in a rebound for Wii U.
"Itwas critical for us to have a strong software lineup to support Wii U,"says Fils-Aime. "With that in place this holiday season, we believeproviding consumers that extra incentive in terms of a $50 price cut isreally going to help drive momentum."
The price cut arrives asNintendo endures a huge slump in sales for the Wii U. As of late July,global Wii U sales reached 3.61 million, with the company only selling160,000 during its first quarter. The company predicts it will sell 9million Wii U consoles during its fiscal year, which ends in March.
Whilethe reduction from $349.99 should entice consumers, a stronger lineupof games might be equally as important to how the Wii U performs thisholiday, says Lewis Ward of IDC.
"We saw with the 3DS that thecombination of a price cut and more compelling first-party softwarereally led to a turnaround," says Ward.
Sales of Nintendo's 3DShandheld gaming device took off following an $80 price cut introducedmonths after it launched in 2011. Since then, several titles, including Mario Kart, Super Mario 3D Land and Animal Crossing: New Leaf, havesparked a boost in sales. According to research firm NPD Group, the 3DShas been the top-selling video game device in the U.S. for threestraight months.
Nintendo will launch a new version of the DScalled the Nintendo 2DS on Oct. 12. At $130, the device is aimed at"entry-level consumers," says Fils-Aime.
"We need to have a strongentry price point proposition for consumers," he says. "There areconsumers out there where the base 3DS ... might be a little out ofreach."
The 2DS will host both DS and 3DS titles in a 2-D view,and ditch the clamshell design in favor of a slate form factor thatretains the traditional dual screens and control layout. The handheldwill be available in red or blue. A new Zelda title for the 3DS, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, launches Nov. 22.
Asfor Wii U, the price cut also comes roughly two months beforeMicrosoft's Xbox One and Sony's PlayStation 4 hit stores in November.Both devices will likely boast improved visuals, as well as advancedfeatures such as integrated game DVRs, content sharing and backgrounddownloads of digital games.
However, Wii U should still have a solid holiday, says Digital World Research analyst P.J. McNealy.
"Allthe great games they've been working on for the Wii U are finallycoming out," he says. They've had some delays and missteps, but thiswill be a good holiday for them despite all the noise around Xbox Oneand PS4."