People buy the Wii U to play games.
If anything, given the bad reputation the console has been given for the past two years, the people buying the Wii U right now are only doing so to play games, and what better reason to buy a Nintendo console than to play a Nintendo game?
Yet when looking at the first-party titles available on the Wii U and coming to the console this holiday season, none have online multiplayer. Nintendo Land doesn’t, save for its Miiverse integration. Same goes for New Super Mario Bros. U – and New Super Luigi U for that matter. Neither does Lego City Undercover nor Game & Wario, again except for Miiverse integration. Same goes for Pikmin 3 and The Wonderful 101 as far as we’re informed, as well as Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Super Mario 3D Land and Wii Party U. Again, The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD and Wii Fit U only have Miiverse integration for an online experience.
What I mean by this is pretty simple. Considering the fact that the main appeal of a Nintendo console are Nintendo games, the internet is not required to enjoy the Wii U, and this is my first argument to the following suggested re-pricing: pricing the Wii U at $/€299 at the counter and charging $/€50 on the console for a Nintendo Network ID.
You’ll notice I’ve said the Wii U and not the Deluxe Set (or Premium pack here in Europe). This is because I’m interested in what the price of the Wii U is perceived and believed to be. You just don’t call a console expensive by citing its cheaper $/€299 model but would rather deem the cheaper model to be “the […] version of the Wii U [not] worth buying” (as referred by Time). Instead, when judging the console expensive, outlets such as Gamesindustry.biz refer to the most expensive model and consider the “[value] of the [platform as] not truly balanced” when compared to the upcoming competition.
Here is how I would see the aforementioned change happening incrementally:
1) Secretly discontinue the white Wii U Basic Set
This I believe is already happening. Though anecdotal, I once read from a UK retailer in a comment on that subject that of all the Wii U’s he had sold, only one was a Basic Set, the reason being the customer wanted the white color.
2) Introduce a white Wii U “Definitive Set” with the new price structure
The new white “Definitive Set” would be similar to the current Deluxe Set. Included would be a Wii U with 32GB of storage, a Wii U GamePad, a console stand, a GamePad stand and a cradle, Wii U and GamePad AC adapters, an HDMI Cable and a Sensor Bar (AND the 8-hour battery). The Deluxe Digital Promotion would not apply, it would not be bundled with Nintendo Land, and would be sold at $/€299, introducing the $/€50 fee required to create a Nintendo Network ID. In the meantime, the Deluxe Set – the black model bundled with Nintendo Land – would still be sold for $/€349 in spite of the fact that the $/€50 fee would also apply to this model. However, the white Basic Set would be lowered to $/€249, same price as the Wii when it launched, while supplies last (also with the fee). From the “version of the Wii U not worth buying,” the Basic Set would then become a “bargain collector’s item.”
3) Start discontinuing the black Wii U Deluxe Set
Clearing stocks for what is to come.
4) Introduce a black version of the Wii U “Definitive Set”
This version of the “Definitive Set” would then gradually replace the Wii U Deluxe Set as the black model of the Wii U. It would actually be better if both “Definitive Sets” as I have called them so far would simply be branded as “the Wii U” - clear and simple to avoid confusion – as the initial sets (Basic and Deluxe) would be no more; it then would only be the black and the white Wii U at $/€299.
No NNID doesn’t necessarily mean no Internet. Without an NNID, the following services would still be available:
- Wii U Internet browser, to surf on the web with both screens
- Wii U eShop, to buy digital offerings (games tied to hardware)
- Wara Wara Plaza, to have a sneak peek on Miiverse and to encourage joining the Nintendo Network.
But here is what would be missed:
- Miiverse, since an NNID is required to create a Miiverse profile
- Wii U Chat, since you need an NNID to be called through it
- Online gaming, since an NNID is required to log into the Nintendo Network’s servers.
The fact of the matter is, none of these additions are required, not even those services available without an NNID: they only enhance the existing experience. None of these are required to enjoy the Wii U’s “off-TV play” or “asymmetrical gameplay.” None of these are required to begin understanding the Wii U difference.
By giving Wii U customers the liberty to opt in the Nintendo Network on their own, the $/€50 NNID fee would allow Nintendo to satisfy the long-demanded price drop without altering their profits, all while unifying the current Wii U models under one model, two generic choices of color, a single attractive price – $/€299 – and the simple brand name of “the Wii U.”