Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Price is Wrong

Last year, I posted about Microsoft's deceptive pricing of the Xbox 360, noting that, although its initial cost was cheaper than the PS3, in order to enjoy the features that all but defined the system (i.e. Xbox Live), you needed to invest, not only in an annual $50 Gold subscription, but also potentially in a $100 wi-fi dongle, since the system possessed no wireless capability by default. Add in the cost of a hard drive if you wanted to download anything, and the cost of the 360 soared into the same extravagent range as the PS3.

Some months later, Sony itself made a much more transparently slanted version of the same argument. Sony did go further, however, to target also the Wii, which, while cheaper, lacked even the options for many of the features basic to the PS3 (e.g. HDMI, movie playback, hard drive).

I thought this was the wrong direction for Sony to take its case, because I seriously doubted that anybody bought a Wii looking for those things. On the contrary, it was apparent to me that, for less than the $399.99 cost of a PS3 80GB, you could get the Wii console ($249.99) together with its best-selling signature titles, Wii Play ($49.99 and includes all-important second Wii Remote) and Wii Fit ($89.99 and includes Balance Board).

But that doesn't mean that Nintendo has been entirely clean. The Wii Remote retails for $39.99. Add in the cost of a $19.99 Nunchuk, and already you have the most expensive first-party controller across the three consoles. For comparison, the DualShock 3 retails for $54.99, while the 360 wireless controller goes for $49.99. To be fair, the Wii system does come with one Nunchuk, and there have been very few multiplayer games that have justified investing in a second.

But now I really want to try the new Wii MotionPlus with Wii Sports Resort. It seems to me, however, that, as was the case with the original Wii Sports, and, indeed, most of my gaming on the Wii, the preferred way to enjoy Wii Sports Resort is as a multiplayer party game. Unfortunately, I'm unwilling to purchase the additional MotionPlus dongles at $19.99 apiece to make that happen. I understand these are sophisticated pieces of technology that I'm getting for my money, but that's still a lot of dough to play one game the way it was intended.

For now, I'm likely stuck waiting until Nintendo sees fit to bundle its accessory with some other games I'm interested in.

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