20 per cent price cut rumored for Wii

The fact that Nintendo’s Wii is behind its console rivals in the specs state is not a problem thanks to two reasons: it’s aimed at the casual games player and it’s significantly cheaper.

However, with the Xbox 360 dropping to $299, and the new PS3 Slim coming in at the same price, the $250 Wii doesn’t look as much of a budget option. With that in mind, rumors of a drop to $199 certainly appear to make sense.

The rumor has had a double dose of credibility from gaming site Kotaku in recent days. It first noted that a Walmart ad, which it didn’t publish, mentioned the console being involved in a rollback – the retailer’s term for a permanent price cut rather than a special offer.

It’s now published what appears to a shot of a Toys ‘R’ Us leaflet (pictured below) which shows the new $199 price cut. Assuming it’s genuine, the blurry image looks to have been hastily snapped with a cellphone camera. According to the source who passed on the picture, the leaflet is due to be distributed in the last week of September.

Nintendo says it currently has no plans to cut the price and says the stories are purely speculation. It’s not commented specifically on the apparent Walmart or Toys ‘R’ Us ads.

The firm is appearing at trade events in Japan later this month, which would be the most likely occasion for officially announcing a price cut.

Assuming the ads are genuine, it doesn’t appear that there would be any changes made to the Wii package at the lower price, such as making it a console-only deal; the Toys ‘R’ Us leaflet notes the inclusion of Wii Sports. It is possible the retailers are independently cutting their prices (with Nintendo’s wholesale price remaining the same), though $50 sounds like a pretty hefty hit for a retailer to take from its profit margin on a $250 electronic device.

For a device aimed at a mass audience, $199 certainly makes sense. That figure’s often been talked about as a psychological sweet point for a new consumer electronics technology, such as Blu-ray players, being seen as affordable by the general public.