Nintendo: Wii < $250

Mario factory announces price point (sort of), says six million units in channel by March 2007.

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Nintendo has announced the price point for its new living-room console, the Wii, which will be launched globally in Q4 2006. Although for now the pricing is not exact, it will not exceed $250 in America or 25,000 yen in Japan. No estimate was announced for the European market, but the indication given was that it would be a "similar, affordable price."

In addition, Nintendo said it will soon release details on the Virtual Console, and "exact launch dates." Nintendo's wording of the "launch dates" is ambiguous--it could refer to Wii games alone, or it could mean a staggered launch of the system, or both. Regardless of when the launch happens, the publisher said it expects to ship 6 million consoles before the end of March 2007, as well as 17 million games.

The news comes hot on the heels of an earlier posting by the company of a 19 percent drop in annual profits, and a warning that results for the current financial year would be 3.5 percent lower than previously thought.

However, Nintendo still expects sales to grow by 18 percent globally, based on continuing sales of the Nintendo DS, and hopes for a successful Wii launch. The DS Lite, a new, sleeker version of the twin-screen handheld, is due to launch on June 11 in America and June 23 in Europe, and new key titles such as New Super Mario Bros. will no doubt cause sales spikes globally.

Nintendo's pricing decision will compare directly with key Japanese rival Sony, whose PlayStation 3 console will ship for a significantly higher price at around the same time, and will cost up to $599 for the top-end model.

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