UPDATE: Nintendo has announced that the Wii will cost $250 at launch in North America.
More and more questions are popping up this week regarding what the price of the Nintendo Wii could be when it's released later this year. Analysts are publishing reports, columnists are making predictions, and fans are tossing out random numbers. PTB reader Tim Winchester has decided to crunch numbers instead. He's put together some interesting cost estimations based on data from competing console price points.
One possible method of estimation is comparing the relative costs of next-gen systems to the cost of their devkits. Since it appears that neither Microsoft nor Sony will actually be making any money on hardware, but are trying to take minimal losses per unit sold, I'll just use the consumer price as the manufacturing price.
- Xbox 360 Devkit: $10,000
- Xbox 360 Pro: $399
- PS3 Devkit: $20,000
- PS3 Premium: $599
- Wii Devkit: $2,000
If you look at the ratios of the other two systems and use them as your range:
- Xbox 360 ratio: ~25
- PS3 ratio: ~33.3
- $2000 Wii devkit / [25, 33] = $60-$80 price range
Add a $20-$40 markup per unit, and you've got Nintendo selling Wiis for $100 and making a healthy profit doing so.
Personally I'm betting on a $200 price for release day. $200 has worked for Nintendo in the past. They know people will traditionally pay that price for a new console, and seeing how Nintendo has pitched themselves as not taking part in the hardware arms race between Sony and Microsoft I do not believe they would allow their own cost per unit to rise beyond their usual starter rates. We'll know more in the months to come.