Nintendo has cut the price of its Wii console by twenty percent to $199.99 in the US and by an equivalent amount in Japan. Nintendo's European media site makes no mention of the move, at least not in German. It seems that most of Europe will not benefit from a price cut, although France apparently will (according to the French news agency Agence France Press). There are conflicting reports regarding this territory. Previous rumours mentioned that European Wii bundles may be upgraded by a copy of ´Wii Sports Resort´.
It is the first price cut for the console, after a record-breaking period of almost three years. The move vindicates earlier rumours and is in keeping with my editorial below. In a press release, the company details the decision:
The new $199.99 Wii price point delivers the full iconic Wii gaming experience, including the motion-sensing Wii Remote™ controller, Nunchuk™ controller and Wii Sports™ software, and furthers Nintendo's mission to expand the gaming universe by making video games accessible to more and more consumers. (...)
"Wii has reached more video game players than any game system before because it attracts everyone—both men and women, and people of all ages," said Cammie Dunaway, Nintendo of America's executive vice president of Sales & Marketing. "Our research shows there are 50 million Americans thinking about becoming gamers, and this more affordable price point and our vast array of new software mean many of them can now make the leap and find experiences that appeal to them, whatever their tastes or level of gaming experience."
Reuters (via Yahoo News) reports about the economic repercussions of the news, which coincided with Sony Computer Entertainment president Kaz Hirai's keynote speech at the Tokyo Game Show.
Following the announcements of the Wii price cut and Hirai's keynote speech, shares of Nintendo closed up 0.5 percent at 24,550 yen, while Sony gained 3.1 percent to 2,670 yen and the benchmark Nikkei average rose 1.7 percent.
News of Nintendo's price cut came just as Hirai was delivering his keynote speech.
EDIT Just to clarify the situation in Europe: Nintendo has not set a recommended retail price, but will reduce the wholesale price of the console. This will result in a price cut from €249 to €199, valid for the whole of Europe, except for the UK and Ireland. There, the price will remain but the bundle will be upgraded by the inclusion of ´Wii Sports Resort´ and a Motion Plus dongle.
Sources: Nintendo of America, Reuters (via Yahoo News)