Yesterday, Nintendo announced a fifty dollar price drop for the Wii U Deluxe edition to $299. Normally, I would be over the moon for a price drop on a console I thought was far too expensive. However, my initial reaction was disappointment. "That's it?", I thought to myself. "I could get an Xbox 360 for that price.", I grumbled. Amazed at Nintendo's gall, I decided to catalog the games I would want if I had a Wii U. As it turns out, a surprising handful have my attention! After diving back into work for another half-hour or so, I started to actually think about why $299 originally seemed like too much for a brand-new console.
If I had a Wii U today, I'd probably run full-throttle to the store and pick up Pikmin 3, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate and New Super Mario Bros. U. In 2014, I plan to salivate excessively over Monolithsoft's New Jam, Super Smash Bros., and whatever eldritch abomination comes from mixing Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem. Already, I can think of 6 games I'm more than a little excited for. Even still, my knee-jerk reaction was to scoff at a $299 asking-price. Contrarily, I pre-ordered a PS4 for $399 within 15 minutes of the announcement. I believe the difference in impression originates with how well each console sells its promise for the future.
In the game of promises, Sony has an inherent advantage. They haven't had to do much to convince us that their console is the 'next big thing'. They have next-generation hardware, next-generation OS features, and shiny next-generation trailers. (Are you sensing a pattern?) On the other hand, Nintendo launched more expensive console than the Xbox 360, with plenty of current-gen ports to fill out the ranks and (arguably) the same old Mario. While it may have been Nintendo's next-gen, the only thing a Wii U had over my Xbox and PS3 at launch was a Mario game. I still haven't finished the Wii SMB, so I could just get that instead, without missing much.
The Wii U absolutely failed at selling itself as a transformative console. Nintendo has never told us what their console will do that their others will not. It took me a bit of investigating and more than a little trust to reach a point where I was comfortable with the $299 price tag. After thinking about it, I'm equally excited for Nintendo's 2014 as I am for Sony's.
Management of consumer reactions is a marketing game. Unfortunately, if others have the same reaction I did, the Wii U may not get the attention I feel it deserves even after this price drop. It's kind of a shame given the really interesting games I see coming down the pipe.