Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Nintendo Ups The Ante By Lowering Price

Company hopes pricing move will turn PR into profits

Some younger gamers may not believe it, but Nintendo once reigned supreme in the world of home gaming. And not that long ago, either. Of course, for some gamers “not that long ago” was when they were still in diapers, but for the older target demographic, Game Cube and Game Boy are fond memories. Ahh, memories.

But nostalgia surely doesn’t move units. Since the advent of Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox, Nintendo has been relegated to third-tier status. The company found a solid niche with its young-gamer-friendly games and unique full-body controllers, but now Xbox is honing in on that market too.

So Nintendo has decided to fall back on that tried-and-true marketing strategy – cut the price! According to a public relations release by the company, Nintendo will drop the price of Wii U effective $50. The new price will continue through the holiday season.

“This is not an unsurprising move for the company,” Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5W Public Relations, said. “They are targeting a younger market, even with the release of new games with time-honored characters such as Mario and Zelda. This may entice budget-conscious buyers to give the Wii stronger consideration.”

The timing of this announcement also comes well before the much talked about release of new systems from each of Nintendo’s chief competitors.

“Timing is vital in this sort of market battle,” Torossian said. “Microsoft and Sony are expected to release their new systems in November, so September is a perfect time to get a jump on the competition. It’s still close enough to the holiday season, but far enough away from the other releases to not get overshadowed by the industry leaders.”

And here’s another marketing wrinkle for the system. Buyers have expected a game to come with a new Nintendo system since the original Entertainment System was released with Super Mario Brothers and Duck Hunt. This version of the Wii will come with a game not so subtly titled: “Nintendo Land,” an obvious commercial within a game for the larger Nintendo universe.

This “free with the console” concept is something modern gamers may not expect, so it works as a value-added bonus. Initially Nintendo toyed with the idea of releasing a cheaper version with less memory and no game, but that idea was soon scrapped for a better deal on the “with game” package.

Time will tell if the two-month jumpstart will help Nintendo gain ground on its competitors. The company cannot afford another rough sales quarter or it may find its also-ran status permanent.

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