11 March 2009

Would you like some lube with that purchase...?

Nintendo, in all their wondrous and omnipotent glory, have decided to INCREASE the price of the Wii and upcoming games for both the Wii and DS/DSi in the UK. This is due to the weakened state of the pound in the international market and blub, blub blub.....

Wait, what the hell was that? Oh, right, that was the sound of Nintendo's UK sales figures sinking after this takes effect. Well, maybe not entirely but either way it's not a good idea. Basically, we here in the UK can't afford to be spending lots of money on games and game consoles and the prices of these items in relation to general income is usually higher than in the US but lower than some EU countries and significantly lower than Australia/New Zealand. So, in a time of economic 'crisis' where there are loads of people tightening their belts and/or being laid off.... how do you drum up more business? Oh, that's right! Increase the price of your items which were already making a profit on a per-unit basis anyway. Great strategy!

Of course, Nintendo don't actually set the retail price of their products in the UK and retailers are welcome to eat the ~£20 increase in order to keep sales going strong. Of course, this means that retailers, which are already doing badly in the current economic climate would struggle even more for a smaller cut of the item sold.... it's unlikely to happen. What i do see happening is retailers claiming that they're 'not receiving stock' or whatever excuse might apply so they can effectively stop selling the Wii in such quantities.

On the game side of the equation, a price hike is a ridiculous suggestion. DS games are so overpriced when taking into account gameplay hours and general quality (more complex games [i.e. not scrabble] usually sell between £20-30 though retailers tend to cut them down to sub £20 after a period on the shelves) and also, most importantly, cost to make vs install base of the platform. Wii games, again, are generally a sorry affair with respect to the quality of their build and i believe they are already at their sweet spot for selling to the mass market audience that Nintendo now calls their customer base.

Now, if the Wii had been targeted more towards a traditional or hardcore consumer base of game enthusiasts perhaps this would be a 'good' move for the company... while we complain about price hikes, game quality/whatever and can be pretty vocal about it all we still buy games. The lesson that Nintendo might be about to learn (just as other entertainment industries have in the past) the general consumer and mass market can be a fickle mistress... there's always something else.

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