Friday Nintendo's global president Satoru Iwata admitted that the Wii U could have had a better launch. He's also baffled that Nintendo shares are still continuing to plummet since the console's big reveal on Tuesday, dropping 4.6-percent on Thursday and 5.7-percent on Wednesday.
The biggest mistake in Nintendo's reveal, he said, was that there was too much emphasis on the controller. He really hit the nail on that comment: after watching the press conference, we were left scratching our heads about the actual console itself. On the surface, the presentation seemed to promote a Nintendo tablet capable of throwing games remotely onto an HDTV. To add to the confusion, video demonstrations also included Wii remotes, giving the impression that the Wii U was actually a touchscreen controller built for the current Wii.
It wasn't until after the reveal that IBM and AMD stepped up and announced that their hardware was installed inside the elusive box. Additional reports indicated that the console won't even be backwards-compatible with Gamecube games, and that the optical drive will use 25 GB non-Blue-ray discs.
But even in our own hands-on experience at the show, the console was removed from view – the featured controller was tethered to a device hidden behind the kiosk wall. You could barely see the unit in demo units on the ground floor of Nintendo's showcase area, parked behind a little glass screen. As seen in this image, the device was mounted below the HDTV, seated flushed against the kiosk wall. It's as if the console itself was nearly invisible.
"We haven't made any kind of blunder, but I should have shown a single picture of the new console, then started talking about the controller," said Iwata. "The console is not drastically different, and Wii U is about the controller. The console itself will be almost invisible."
Obviously. Still, looking back to the Wii, the motion-sensing money-maker was all about the controller too and a promise that the technology would change the gaming landscape. It did to some degree, pushing Microsoft and Sony into jumping onto the motion-sensing bandwagon with their Kinect and Move options. What probably hurt Nintendo's presentation this time around was that (1) Nintendo didn't show the actual console and (2) the industry is currently in tablet mode.
Still, Iwata blames some of the Wii u confusion on the press – or rather, those who are reporting on the device and haven't had the opportunity to test it out for themselves. He also said that the Wii U won't come cheap, which is expected given that the original Wii console wasn't necessarily cheap at launch either. As reported by Bloomberg on Wednesday, Iwata "signaled the Wii U will likely be priced at more than 20,000 yen ($250) in Japan when it goes on sale next year."
Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime backed up Iwata's signals, saying that the Wii U will offer consumers "fantastic value" for the money and be "competitively" priced with the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. That could mean the console will retail for around $300 if Nintendo plans to compete with a new 160 GB PlayStation 3 console. Naturally those numbers will change for 2012.