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Wii Price Reduced $50 as Video-Game Battle Escalates – Thu Sep 24, 12:08 pm ET

In what appears to be a clear response to price cuts by Sony and Microsoft, Nintendo is slashing the price of its popular Wii video-game console. Nintendo announced a $50 price cut that will go into effect on Sept. 27.

Nintendo introduced the Wii to millions of consumers at $250, making it the least expensive next-generation console on the market when it debuted in 2006. Sony launched late with its PlayStation 3 at twice the price of the Wii. Sony has never regained momentum.

However, analysts are bullish on Sony's PS3 Slim, introduced in August for $299. Just days later, Microsoft followed by knocking $100 off the price of its Xbox 360 Elite console, which now sells for $299. With Nintendo's latest move, the Wii will sell for $199.

The Next 50 Million

Cammie Dunaway, Nintendo of America's executive vice president of sales and marketing, said the 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.

"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," Dunaway said.

Nintendo promised there will be no skimping on the feature set. The $199.99 Wii still comes with the motion-sensing Wii Remote controller, Nunchuk controller, and Wii Sports software. The company is also pointing to the Oct. 4 release of Wii Fit Plus and the first truly multiplayer Mario title ever, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, which debuts on Nov. 15.

Nintendo said Wii's inherent social nature comes to life with New Super Mario Bros. Wii. The game allows four players to take part in the action at the same time. Nintendo said that same dynamic is propelling the enthusiastic response for Wii Sports Resort.

Preparing for War

Michael Cai, a video-game analyst at Interpret, isn't surprised to see Nintendo cut the price on the Wii. The rumors have been floating around for weeks, suggesting insiders knew Nintendo was going to respond to declining sales in an ailing economy. With the $199 price, the Wii is ready for the all-important holiday shopping season.

"Nintendo isn't necessarily matching what (Microsoft Xbox) 360 and PS3 are doing. They do need to face the economic reality. Discretionary spending is tight and $50 means a lot for a lot of consumers. For some of the families who have been holding off on purchasing a Wii, this price cut gives them more incentive to take the plunge," Cai said. "All three consoles should fare much better with the price cuts in place."
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