Now that we have almost all the details on the upcoming release of the Wii U, I sat down with Daniel 'Vook' Vuckovic from Nintendo site Vooks to discuss our thoughts on pricing, the release date and what we expect to see over the coming months.
MARK: Hello my Nintendo buddy Vooks -- I'm a happy man/fan. First of all, the time difference between our knowledge of the US/European Wii U date and the Australian date could be measure in minutes instead of weeks. Second of all I think we finally have a pretty fair pricing situation in Australia.
But before we go into the details -- what are your thoughts on the Wii U? Are you happy with the price and the release date info?
VOOK: I'm very happy with the price and release date that's been announced. Before Japan... technically before Europe? Great move. The US was always going to be first with shopping the way it is over there, so we could never win that one. Good timing for sales here as well.
As for the price? Great move too. The basic pack is at a really approachable price. The Premium pack though provides some great value as well, you most likely wouldn't bother with the basic unless you have absolutely no interest in Nintendo Land (which does look fun) or really want a white console.
MARK: There definitely is a tendency to get outraged at the price of technology in this country -- and for the most part I am the first to pick up the pitchfork. But this time? I think the Wii U is priced very fairly indeed. And as for the release date -- it’s great to see Nintendo thinking more globally.
The real sticking point for me, however, will be the price of the games themselves -- and the price of the GamePad. This is where things might get a little problematic.
So far Nintendo Australia has been a little coy on that pricing. I find this interesting. I want to believe it’s just a simple lack of details -- surely it can’t be priced higher than $200…
VOOK: Sure it could, that's why I think Nintendo is right in not announcing a price for it yet. Why? Because there's no games out yet that support the two controllers -- so what's the point? I think if Nintendo announced a price it would do more harm than good. People would jump on the 'oh my god that's so expensive' wagon and the perception would never change.
If Nintendo waits until there is a game that supports it (and supports it well) then it'll probably be cheaper as the technology gets better as time goes on. Naturally if you really want to know how much one costs ring Nintendo after launch and ask for a replacement...
The price of games is probably a bigger issue though -- what's the pricing going to be? Surely it won't be more expensive, most Wii games are still upwards of $70 at 5 years old.
MARK: You make an interesting point about the GamePad -- and you are correct. No games support a second controller, and it will most likely be expensive, so no reason to send people into a stroke over how much they’ll have to pay for one.
Game prices will be game prices. My gut instinct is that games have slowly been going down in price here in Australia. Part of this is a correction on behalf of retailers, and a response to the cost cutting of Big W and online importing, and part of it is from the publishers themselves.
I think Nintendo Australia is starting to get quite savvy to the whole pricing thing, so I wouldn’t be surprised if games cost less than Wii games cost at launch -- maybe $89.95 RRP. And, of course, the JB Hifis of the world will sell them for less.
Ultimately the pricing situation, I think, won't be as bad as you might have expected.
But let’s go a bit broader -- what are your thoughts on the console itself. We’re beginning to see a lot more game footage, and we’re getting a glimpse of what the Wii U can do. What’s your thinking so far?
VOOK: So far I'm pretty pumped. A week ago I wasn't as much, but now that Nintendo and third parties have completely laid bare what we'll be able to buy in the first few months it's all becoming that more exciting. Sadly I haven't actually played one yet so I can't speak from hands-on experience just yet, but I like what I see.
Miiverse looks like a very interesting concept, not only as an operating system but also the online system of the console. Being able actually communicate, play and share with my 'Nintendo' friends is going to be a great change from the isolated experience of the Wii. I follow all these people on Twitter and have a site community that hasn't really ever interacted in-game before, unless it's been on another system. Having Miiverse there and being its own 'social network' is something I'm really excited for.
The controller itself shows promise. I'm fully expecting launch games to be either great original titles, ports or mini-games fests. It's always these mini-game compilations that show off the 'new features' of a Nintendo console best at the beginning, but this can be a little mundane. Luckily games like ZombiU are shaping up to really show what the Wii U GamePad can do. Not even Nintendo has really done that, outside of Nintendo Land.
As for the power of the console, it'll finally be great to see Nintendo games in HD and the Wii U get most of the 'third party' games that the other consoles get. For now at least, who knows what power the other next generation consoles have. If Nintendo get the Wii U to explode like the Wii early on third parties might have no choice but to support all three no matter the power difference.
There are still tons of little things that I want to know about the Wii U -- annoying things like Wii to Wii U transfers. What games will and won't play on the GamePad only? Then there's the question of 'what's next'? We've got this wonderful launch window, are we just going to devolve back into this one major release every three months routine, scraps released on the eShop each week and other annoying Nintendo traits. It's easy to see hype NOW, but what about in a year when everything that's announced has come and gone?
MARK: Very nicely put. For the past two generations, and maybe as far back as the Nintendo 64, I’d say it’s been almost impossible -- if you take your gaming seriously -- to only own a Nintendo console. I grew up on Nintendo. I love Nintendo, and the first party Nintendo games continue to rank amongst my favourites. But gaming is a big part of my life, and there’s no way I could have gotten by with just a GameCube, or just a Wii.
I love Nintendo when it plays to its strengths, but it really needs to have that long term map – to help dispel that little feeling I’m getting, that I’ll be waiting a long, long time for big, well made titles to be released on the Wii.
Third party support will help, big time – but I’d love Nintendo to be in a position where that support is almost taken for granted. You don’t see Sony or Microsoft making a big fuss that Assassin’s Creed 3 is coming out on 360 or PS3 – that’s just taken for granted. I’d like to see Nintendo in that same position.
And I’d like to see a bigger commitment from third parties – Ubisoft is doing great work here, but they’ve always supporting consoles at launch -- that’s almost in Ubi’s mission statement. Where’s EA’s big Wii U exclusive? Where’s Activision’s big Wii U exclusive?
I will always buy Nintendo consoles, and I’ll continue to play the incredible games Nintendo create, but I openly wonder if Nintendo has really, properly convinced third parties that this console matters. And that’s a worry.