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How much will the Wii U cost?

We take a look at the past pricing schemes of Nintendo consoles, and ask our readers to help us guess the expected Wii U price point.

Christopher MacManus
Crave contributor Christopher MacManus regularly spends his time exploring the latest in science, gaming, and geek culture -- aiming to provide a fun and informative look at some of the most marvelous subjects from around the world.
Christopher MacManus
2 min read
A bundled Wii U GamePad casts doubt as to how much the Wii U package could cost consumers. Nintendo

Despite more than a year of teases, one critical aspect of Nintendo's Wii U remains a mystery: the pricing.

With two E3 gaming expos now under its belt, we know plenty about the Wii U. Nintendo has showed off many HD games and fully revealed the second-screen GamePad tablet.

Earlier this month, CNET Senior Editor Scott Stein mused on the Wii U's retail cost, saying: "The Wii U needs to undercut the competition and be practically an impulse purchase. Is that even possible?"

To answer that question, perhaps we should look at Nintendo's past. The Wii debuted at $249; the GameCube arrived for $199; the Nintendo 64 launched at $199; and the Super NES landed on shelves for $199. Those all seem like impulse purchase price points. Historically speaking, for the last 20 years, Nintendo has played around an attractive $199-$250 price range when launching a home gaming console.

We assume the Wii deviated from the $199 baseline cost as it included Wii Sports, a sensor bar, and a revolutionary game controller (not to mention a strong yen). We know the Wii U comes bundled with the 6.2-inch touch-screen GamePad (sans multitouch), making the console's overall price point anyone's guess.

Yesterday, in an interview with Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun daily newspaper, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata fielded a question about the Wii U's cost. "We won't make the same mistake that we did with the 3DS, which was considered relatively high by consumers," he said.

The feature-heavy 3DS cost $249 at launch, but it didn't take off in sales until the Japanese game maker slashed the price to $169 just a few months later.

With an expected holiday release, Nintendo must price the Wii U appropriately or it may face a rocky launch similar to that of the 3DS. How much do you think the Wii U, with bundled GamePad, will cost? Sound off in our poll or in the comments below.

Wii U at E3 2012
Watch this: Wii U at E3 2012