Under pressure to respond to competitors offering souped-up features for their video game systems, Nintendo announced Monday it will offer a sneak peak at its successor to the Wii console player in June. But while consumers may love the shiny new system, the real question is how much it will cost.
That’s a valid concern, especially for the 86 million people who have already purchased the formerly red-hot Wii, along with the requisite array of games and accessories. But analysts are finding that estimating a price tag for the next Nintendo (NTDOY) console is difficult, given the lack of details in the company’s announcement.
All Nintendo said was that it planned to show a “playable model of the new system” and announce more specifications in early June at the E3 Expo in Los Angeles. The company plans to begin shipping the new gaming system next year.
“Until this last cycle, $300 was the norm for video game consoles,” says Michael Pachter, a Wedbush Securities analyst.
For example, Sony’s (SNE) Playstation 1 and Playstation 2 and Microsoft’s (MSFT) Xbox launched at $300, and Nintendo’s Wii launched at $250, he noted. But they were followed by Microsoft’s Xbox 360, with its motion-sensing Kinect. That system runs nearly $400. And Sony’s PlayStation 3, with its Move motion controller, had also been selling for $400, though the price has since dropped to $350.
“Since we don’t know what the [specifications] are, it’s hard to guess,” Pachter says. “If Nintendo’s new console has the power of an Xbox 360, then it could be $200 to $300. But if it’s something that has an iPad attached, then, who knows, it could run $1,000. We just don’t know yet.”
The games that run on devices like the PlayStation and Xbox generally cost around $50 to $60 apiece, But Pachter says that, too, may be different for the Wii successor, depending on how easy it will be for game developers to write software for the new Nintendo system.
And although Nintendo has built a reputation as the low-cost player in gaming consoles — a strategy that has served it well since it debuted the Wii in 2006 — it could easily go after hard-core gamers with a high-end device and attempt to encroach on Microsoft’s and Sony’s territory. That would only be fitting, since both Sony and Microsoft have tried to expand into Nintendo’s casual gamer niche.
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