Riccitiello: Wii "would see new life" at $99

Budget price would distinguish system from Move and Kinect competition

If Nintendo dropped the price of the Wii hardware to $99 the system would "explode" at retail, according to Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello.

The outspoken boss said that with competition in motion control systems from Kinect and Move, a more budget conscious price point - coupled with better third-party promotion - would boost the console after a year of flagging sales.

"I would say they did exceptionally well in '07 and '08, started tapering in '09 and '10, and... I think if they were to price down to $99, they would explode," he told IndustryGamers.

"I think they've now got competition, in the form of gesture-based gaming from Sony and Microsoft. If they were to find ways to promote third-party content better, as opposed to first-party content, and would hit pricing, I think the platform would see new life."

Riccitiello said that third-party publishers found it frustrating that first-party product achieved such success, and the company could look to Apple as inspiration in promoting and working with partners.

"I think it's a frustration for all third-party publishers, when a platform holder does less to promote third-party content. A great third-party company is Apple, a company that's all third-party content.

"There's often tension in a company between first- and third-party content. Nintendo's unique in the world. They're a great company because of the blend of first- and third-party content. First-party hardware, first-party content is what makes them great, but it's actually pretty tough. I can come up with a dozen titles in the last decade, but it's really tough to come up with a dozen great titles that have been platform defining for them that weren't their own.

"I don't care whether it's Mario or Twilight Princess or GoldenEye; it was their own content. I'm going back to N64, and I can go back to SNES if you want, but they've never really been a heavy third-party supporting system. It's not lack of trying; they start the morning thinking what's best for their own intellectual property."

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Latest comments (11)

Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.7 years ago
1. Sales just did explode. It's up year on year now. I don't think they could manufacture enough units at a $99 price tag.

2. Nintendo has helped a lot of publishers with big titles. See Monster Hunter Tri and the upcoming Dragon Quest X. When publishers actually put a big budget title on the Wii, Nintendo will give them help. When publishers snub Wii with crap like All-Play sports series, guided first person experiences and a Need For Speed Hot Pursuit that looks ported from the N64....well, it's no wonder they have little interest in pushing your products over their own. Put in a Nintendo-like effort and you just might get a Nintendo-like support.

3. Of course Apple gives 3rd parties support...they kinda don't have a 1st party of their own.
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Patrick Frost QA Project Monitor 7 years ago
Correct me if I'm wrong but surely Nintendo's titles get a lot of promotion because they are published by Nintendo. It's not their responsibility for how a 3rd party is perceived or marketed, its the publisher, so his point is invalid.

And yes, most 3rd part games for the Wii are garbage. Even the decent games are lesser spin-offs of established franchises which the public will perceive as second rate.
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Terence Gage Freelance writer 7 years ago
I don't think a cheaper price point for the Wii would do a significant amount of good for third-party sales - I mean, generally, third party games have never done all that well on the system. Companies like EA need to approach the Wii with a very different mindset to how they handle PS360 development, and perhaps most importantly, make sure their target market knows about said games.
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Germán Vázquez Executive Producer, Neggi Studio7 years ago
@ Patrick Frost While the responsibility of a publisher is to push its own titles, there is also a big responsibility to push third party content by the platform holders as they alone can´t sustain a console bringing good titles fast enough. IT IS they responsibility how third party content is perceived since they don´t want to have a console know for poor quality software, no matter how good first party software is there is just not enough Nintendo games to keep a full calendar year attractive to consumers.
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Abraham Tatester Producer 7 years ago
First off, Wii sales were not "tapering" in 2009. They sold a record 3.81 million units last December, compared with 2.15 million in Dec. 2008. That's not tapering, that's explosive growth—a 77% year-on-year increase. Not that Riccitiello would know what explosive growth is: EA's share price is down from US$51.32 to US$15.87—more than 69%—since Riccitiello was made CEO on April 2, 2007. (Also in that time, the company has had a total after-tax net loss of nearly US$2.3 billion.)

Wii sales this month will likely not reach as high as they did last December, but it's a relatively safe bet that they'll hit two million and possibly beat sales of the 360 and the PS3.

Riccitiello should really focus on making games that can match the fun and quality of Nintendo's titles instead of complaining about a lack of support from the publisher. Or, he can just follow his own advice and slash the prices of his games by 50%. I'm sure Wii gamers would buy more of them if he did that.
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Daniel Hughes Studying PhD Literary Modernism, Bangor University7 years ago
Nintendo push quality third party titles-as they've done with Monster Hunter Tri, Dragon Quest IX etc. And didn't they give EA quite a bit of support last year with Tiger Woods and motion plus, letting them launch ahead of Wii Sports Resort? What about EA Sports Active? And where are the big EA games right now on Wii?

Third parties need to stop blaming Nintendo, they've themselves to blame for initially dismissing the Wii as a valid platform, then attempting to cash in on its success with ports, rehashes and shovelware. If they produced titles as good as Nintendo titles, and actually advertised them, then they'd do better. Hell, if they put the same effort into big Wii releases as they do their big HD releases they'd do better on Wii, too.
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Chris Richardson blogger 7 years ago
why is he blaming nintendo for a lack of good games from EA and any other 3rd party developer? nintendo provides the tools, its up to you to create the masterpiece. a wii for $99 doesn't make great 3rd party games appear out of thin air. and if wii sales go through the roof at $99 (which it probably would) that doesn't mean EA's sales of its meager selection of games is going to explode with it.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Chris Richardson on 17th December 2010 8:45pm

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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 7 years ago
There ARE some really good to great third-party WII games out there (if you ignore the ton of budget priced shovelware), but there's actually a bit of negativity STILL coming from some so-called "core" gamers that continue to dismiss the Wii as a viable platform. Hell, I know a few fellow editor types that don't have the system or have one but don't play many games on it.
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Haven Tso Web-based Game Reviewer 7 years ago
I think it is unfair to blame Nintendo for not pushing third party games. Monster Hunter Tri, Dragon Quest IX, Resident Evil Darkside Chronicles, Golden Eye, Epic Mickey etc. all got huge advertising space and promotional campaign everywhere. At the end of the day whether a third party title sells is depending on whether they can resonate with customers.

I think in the Wii cycle Nintendo had done a lot to help third party publishers and developers but if their games are crap (and most of them are) then it won't help. A lot of third party games are just not as polished as the Nintendo ones full stop.

Of course price drop will always help selling units but at the moment, if you get two sets of Move or if you want to get Kinect, they are almost the same price as Wii already. So relatively Wii still has an advantage. For how long? We don't know but at least it should survive this holiday season. But as for 2011, unless there are strong line ups, Nintendo will need to do something to sell more units.
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Jamie Watson Studying Bachelor of Games & Interactive Entertainment, Queensland University of Technology7 years ago
maybe not $100 but a $150? that would be interesting if they dropped the price to compete with kinect/move..

but overalll i think they are in a very good spot already
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Patrick Frost QA Project Monitor 7 years ago
@German - I think that it's the other way around honestly. Nintendo has been profitable based almost entirely on their own products and as other people have said Nintendo does promote some 3rd party games but there isn't anything that worthy of doing so.

Also I would say that EA need Nintendo much more than the other way around. Nintendo have worked damn hard to forge the access to a completely new market. EA should be working a lot harder to tap into that rather than complain that Nintendo are not pushing their games that they have obviously made with little understanding of the audience.

We should congratulate those developers that actually GET the Nintendo audience though. EA should be looking at what people like Level 5 or 5th Cell, hell even BlueTongue are doing and figuring out how to do it right. And we don't hear Ubi complaining that much.

The DS has been almost completely driven by 3rd party material in the later half of its life cycle. The Wii could go completely the same way if people would put in the ground work. And lets look at the 3DS which is more in EA's comfort zone; "My Garden"? Seriously... It's no wonder that Nintendo is giving the screen space to Capcom and Konami.
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