Cost and Effect, II

Last week saw me ramble on for far too long about Apple product updates, leaving me with no space to talk about the Nintendo announcements that took place around the same time. Unlike Apple, Nintendo didn’t release news of any new or updated products, just launch details — dates and prices — for the Wii, something they’ve held off doing for some time now.

It’s going to launch on December the 8th, and will cost £179. For your money you get the console, a wand controller, the ‘nunchuk’ analogue add-on, a bundle of cables and stands, and a collection of sport-themed mini-games known as Wii Sports.

Please take a moment to get any Wii Sports / watersports-related jokes out of your system now. I’ll wait.

All done? Good.

Nintendo had been repeatedly telling us all that, as the Wii wasn’t going to be competing on the same level as the X360 and the PS3, this would keep costs down; the emphasis would be on fun and gameplay, rather than graphical oomph, a strategy that’s proven pretty sound so far given the trouncing the DS is giving the more technically-advanced PSP. So although £179 is a little more expensive than I’d hoped, I don’t think it’s particularly unreasonable, given my vague understanding of new things generally costing more than old things.

The internet generally seemed disappointed by the price, pointing out that the Wii is nothing more than a Gamecube (which it isn’t) and that you could get an Xbox 360 Core pack for another £20. This is largely the same group of people that loudly denounced the Xbox 360 Core pack when it was announced as it lacks a hard drive, wireless controllers, Xbox Live membership and various other fripperies, meaning that to get the ‘full’ X360 experience you have to spend a further £100–£200 or so.

The suggestion that you could spend slightly more money and get an X360 rather than a Wii strikes me as missing the point anyway; you could, yes, but then you wouldn’t get to play Nintendo games, and that’s largely the only reason anybody buys Nintendo consoles in the first place — few people would buy a DS if the only games they were into were GTA, FIFA and Madden, for instance.

Furthermore, the price of the Wii accessories also caused some complaining. The wand controller comes with an RRP of £29, the nunchuk add-on £14, and it’s likely that both will be required for many games, so for four-player action you’d be shelling out an extra £129. It’s a bit pricier than controllers usually are — this is largely a result of all the new motion-sensing joy shoe-horned into each one — but I’m not bothered given that anyone I know who plays games lives in a different city to me.

Again, anyway, the loudest people complaining were more or less the same people who also complain that in-person gaming is a hassle because you have to get up to four people together in a house at the same time, and thus online gaming is The Way of the Future, negating the cost of buying extra controllers.

All of this really just bolsters my opinion that the internet is a dick.

The acid test

So, do I plan to buy one at launch? Well, no. I’d like one, and the price is affordable as far as I’m concerned, but to play the thing I would also need to buy a TV, and then I’d need a house or a flat so that I’d have somewhere to put the TV…buying a new handheld console is very easy; buying a proper console will require some major lifestyle changes, possibly involving a new job or a promotion first.

So I’ll have to wait, but at least when I do buy one, there’ll be more games available and I can spend an enjoyable few months catching up. And hey, maybe the price will have come down by then as well.