No word on Wii U price and release date this year

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata concerned 3DS price drop could damage early adopter trust, explains approach to microtransactions, mobile gaming, and more.


Last week, Nintendo announced that it would badly miss its profit guidance and would be dropping the price of the 3DS by one-third less than half a year after the system's launch. Understandably, shareholders had some questions in hand for the company's postearnings investors Q&A session with president Satoru Iwata.

The Wii U is still a ways off.
The Wii U is still a ways off.

While Iwata played the company's specific plans close to the vest, he did tell investors not to expect news of a Wii U release date or price for some time yet.

"Since the Wii U we showed you at the E3 show in June was still in the development phase without very specific proposals on the software titles, we are going to announce the release date and the price next year when we are able to explain the specific proposals," Iwata said.

Iwata offered that bit of information in an explanation of how the 3DS price drop would impact plans for the Wii U. Specifically, he was concerned with how it impacted the trust early adopters had placed in Nintendo.

"What we have to take most seriously is that the price markdown could damage the trust of the consumers who bought the Nintendo 3DS just after the launch," Iwata said. "I feel greatly accountable for it. Our decision of the price markdown this time has a side effect that, at the launch of the Wii U, people may feel that the price might drop in the near future if they wait."

Iwata also fielded investors' questions about a pair of emerging markets Nintendo has not been hasty to embrace: smartphones and microtransactions. He began by explaining Nintendo's focus on its own portable systems instead of the latest and greatest cell phone platforms.

"In the past, when games were becoming available with Java technology on cell phones, before smartphones appeared on the scene, we were often told that no one would buy handheld game systems once people could play games on their cell phones," Iwata said. "As a result, however, I believe that we have gone above the limits with Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, and Nintendo DS by continuing to try new things which games for cell phones cannot realize and to offer unique software in connection with hardware. Therefore, we are willing to do the same things in the future--we think that we can keep the high significance of our own platforms' existence by creating and offering software which cannot be realized on the other common platforms and by receiving the consumers' appreciation of them."

As for microtransaction-based games, Iwata stated that the free-to-play model doesn't fit with Nintendo's vision of the value in its games, but he said it's entirely possible the company would offer additional stages to games for a small fee. He also noted that regardless of Nintendo's own microtransaction plans, the 3DS and Wii U will support downloadable content for games should third parties decide they want to implement it.

"I'd like to emphasize that this is only me talking from Nintendo's point of view of what we want Nintendo to do," Iwata said, "and we do not intend to comment on whether another company is right or wrong, and I would like to avoid any misunderstandings on this point, but I would also like to mention that, under Nintendo's set of values, 'charging money just for changing the parameters to unlock something or to allow some large advantage' is a totally different earnings structure that is not compensation for creative work and, while pursuing this may create short-term profits, Mr. Miyamoto and I discussed that we should not use this type of billing system since we think that we will not be able to make long-term relationships with our consumers."

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