Is the Wii as affordable as it used to be?

The Wii is all about value. But does the Wii MotionPlus eliminate that argument? Don Reisinger finds out.

Nintendo

Nintendo announced the Wii MotionPlus Tuesday . It will cost $20 when it's released on June 8. The attachment, which is connected to the Wii Remote through the nunchuk port, will "bring 1:1 motion" to Wii gestures, Nintendo says.

The Wii MotionPlus will only work with games that are coded to support it, so older Wii titles are out. Virtua Tennis will support the MotionPlus when it's made available on May 19. EA's Tiger Woods PGA Tour '10 will also work with the accessory when the game hits store shelves on June 16. Wii Sports Resort, which will come bundled with the Wii MotionPlus, will cost $49.99 when it's released July 26.

Nintendo might run into problems with this accessory if it's trying to maintain its grip on affordability and value in the gaming space.

Nintendo goes out of its way to tell us that the Wii provides more value than any other console on the market. According to the company, the Wii not only boasts the best gaming experience, but it does so at a price--$250--that's far more affordable than competing products.

But now that the Wii MotionPlus is thrown into the mix, the cost to the consumer for a fully configured Wii controller just increased from $60 ($40 for the Wii Remote and $20 for the nunchuk) to $80 ($40 for the Wii Remote and $20 each for the nunchuk and Wii MotionPlus). Assuming you still use the Wii Remote that came bundled with the Wii, you'll spend $260 to have four remotes all sporting a nunchuk and Wii MotionPlus.

Isn't that a little steep?

Nintendo doesn't think so. The company's vice president of Public Affairs, Denise Kaigler, said that the accessory is optional, so consumers can decide whether they want to invest another $20 to get the best control possible in Wii games.

"Nintendo offers consumers many exciting options that are designed to enhance their gameplay experience," Kaigler said. "Consumers decide which of those options to use based on the gameplay experience they want to enjoy at any given time. Gamers who prefer playing with a control stick can add the Nunchuk controller option if they want. Wii MotionPlus is an optional accessory for developers and players who want to further refine their game experience."

Most Wii gamers will probably want greater control over their games, yet some purchased the Wii because it was less expensive than its counterparts. But as you can see from the chart below, the Wii isn't necessarily the cheapest console on the market. In fact, if a user wants up to four controllers sporting a Wii MotionPlus, they'll end up paying a whopping $510 before they buy a single Wii game. The Xbox 360 is cheaper as soon as controllers get added to a gaming setup, and the PlayStation 3 with four controllers is just $55 more expensive than the Wii.

Wii
The real price of owning a Wii. Don Reisinger/CNET

When I pressed Nintendo about the affordability of its console and the impact it could have on its target market, Kaigler wouldn't budge.

"Nintendo is committed to creating new experiences for everyone to enjoy," she responded. "Wii MotionPlus is for anyone who wants to bring true 1:1 motion to their video game experience. It's up to developers to decide how they want to integrate this new technology into their games."

And that could be yet another problem facing Wii gamers. If a developer requires a Wii MotionPlus in portions of a game, much like they currently do with the nunchuk, that "option" Nintendo is so quick to cite, might be lost. And even if it isn't required, but suggested, won't you want to play the game the way it's supposed to be played?

The Wii MotionPlus looks like a compelling accessory that many Wii gamers will want. But since it's not supported in older titles and it turns the Wii into an expensive investment, is it really worth the upgrade cost?

Nintendo thinks so. Do you?

Check out Don's Digital Home podcast, Twitter stream, and FriendFeed.

 

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