Walmart Lowers Wii U Basic Price by $100 Amidst Lagging Sales

i_35131It’s no small secret that the Wii U is not doing as well as Nintendo (among others) would like. A report by Forbes states that while they did incur an operating loss in this quarter, they did manage a net profit as well. It goes on to note that while Nintendo did manage to move 3.45 million Wii U’s across the world in the last fiscal year (ending at the start of April), they’ve only 160,000 Wii Us worldwide in this first new quarter.

One could argue that in light of this, Nintendo’s loss could be consumers’ gain. This comes primarily in the recent news from Gimme Gimme Games (by way of GenGAME) that in Canada, Walmart is reducing the price of the Wii U Basic Set from its original $299.99 price point down to a mere $199 starting on August 2nd. The reason behind the cut remains unclear, whether it’s clearing out stock of the lower-selling units, or part of a greater move by Nintendo itself, such as releasing a new SKU package in its place.

On the consumer side of things, this is actually a pretty good deal. The Basic Set has frequently been scorned in the media for its lack of many of the Deluxe Set’s bells and whistles, not the least of which are an included copy of Nintendo Land and containing a hard drive only one-quarter the size of the Deluxe Set’s.

For $50’s difference, one would argue, you would be a fool not to take the Deluxe Set. But for $150 difference? The value proposition there becomes a little more palatable, especially for those who don’t want Nintendo Land or care for such things as stands, charging cradles, or the color black. As for the hard drive space, both models of Wii U support SD Cards and external hard drives, and one look on Amazon.ca shows that you can make up the difference in space easily for far less than the money you’re saving.

The big question, of course, is where Nintendo goes from here. Personally speaking, I’m not too worried yet, as Nintendo has managed to pull off some good moves in the past, and it’s when they’re backed into a corner than they’re the most dangerous (case in point: The Wii, following the GameCube).

While the whole situation does seem eerily reminiscent of the Nintendo 3DS’s launch back in 2011, which was considered a disaster but has since been remedied considerably by a constant stream of great releases, Nintendo is actually in a much worse position right now. While the Nintendo 3DS had the PlayStation Vita to contend with– a nice system which really hasn’t gone anywhere– they’ll be facing more formidable foes on two fronts in the form of a renewed Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One, which has gained some traction since reversing many of the policies which led to the system being seen as an abomination.

Forbes has a list of issues they believe Nintendo needs to address in order to succeed, many of which would be strong moves (can anyone deny that releasing a console Pokemon that takes full advantage of what the Wii U has to offer would be like dropping a nuclear warhead in the marketplace?). The UK’s Official Nintendo Magazine website reports that Nintendo’s plan to improve sales consists of attempting to “concentrate on proactively releasing key first-party titles from the second half of this year through next year to regain momentum for the platform.”

These titles consist of Pikmin 3 (review coming soon), The Legend Of Zelda: Wind Waker HD, Wii Party U, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Super Mario 3D World, and Wii Fit U.

“Moreover,” they go on to say, “Nintendo strives to improve the sales by communicating the compelling nature of our hardware and software to as many people as possible through our new network service called Miiverse, which offers an environment where people can empathise with others and share their gaming experiences. We also strive to improve hardware profitability by reducing its costs.” Hopefully that last part is indicative of a price cut, such as Walmart’s.

Will this be enough, though? That’s the big question as we head into the holiday season and two new next-generation consoles lie on the horizon. Furthermore, the current generation of Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 won’t likely be slouches either, as titles such as Grand Theft Auto V await with no Wii U counterpart in sight to keep things even.

The one-year head-start the Wii U held has pretty much been squandered by this point, offering little (if any) real advantage. Hopefully their new games will be enough of a difference maker to allow them to regroup.

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David Oxford

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you're interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.