Nintendo is committed to being the lower-cost alternative when its next-generation Revolution console ships later this year, according to a newly released interview
conducted with Nintendo's Satiru Iwata with financial website CNN Money.
Company representatives have repeatedly said that the system will cost lest than Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's upcoming PlayStation 3, and in the interview, Iwata, president of Nintendo, suggested that it is not only the console that will be more affordable, but the games as well. "I cannot imagine any first party title could be priced for more than $50," said Iwata.
This stands as somewhat of a contrast to that of Microsoft and Sony, as third-party Xbox 360 titles carry an MSRP of $60, though first-party Microsoft titles are currently priced at $50, and the price of first-party PlayStation 3 titles are currently unknown, perhaps making Iwata's comments somewhat less groundbreaking than some have believed.
However, most of this added price comes from the increased development costs required to create games for these next-generation platforms, a fact that has not been lost on Nintendo. However, the company has stated since the console was unveiled that its drive was to offer a platform that costs less to develop for, which in turn may make the Revolution an attractive alternative to developers who are unwilling to shoulder the burden of more “traditional” next-generation development.
"In the US, we're going to see the next generation cost an awful lot," said Iwata. "I really don't think that there's going to be a lot of acceptance by current customers of the $60 price tag. They may allow that for a limited number of premium titles, but not all."
The Revolution will be coming to market with less frills than the competition, and its notable lack of a hard drive, coupled with the system's recently unveiled ability to download
games for previous Nintendo consoles, as well as select titles from the Sega Genesis and TurboGrafx systems, is an interesting conundrum. The console will reportedly feature 512 MB of flash memory, however, as well as slots to support SD memory cards. The Revolution will also feature built in USB ports so that, according to Iwata, “practically any storage method can be used.”
There is also the question of will these downloads be permanent, or if they will simply remain for a set period of time, which would, of course, drastically lessen the need for either a hard drive or purchasing expensive SD cards. "We can set some limitations as to the time period a piece of downloaded content can be played," said Iwata. "Or, we may opt to let users play as long as they want. This gives us a flexible business model."
Nintendo has even stated that they intend to position the recently announced Virtual Console as a means for developers to get their games in the hands of players without going through more traditional retail chains.
"If we can come up with an addictive, but simple title – such as Tetris 15 years ago – my attention should be focused on containing costs," Iwata commented. "So, I would make it available through the Virtual Console. I think the opportunity for ourselves will be much larger than software that costs $50-$60. ... Of course, there are a number of people waiting for a 'masterpiece' title. For those games, we'll utilize traditional distribution channels."
Iwata also took the opportunity during the interview to comment on advertising in games, a topic that he admits is a bit confusing, since players do not have time to stop and pay attention to the advertisements and billboards as they make their way through a given game. "We do not deny the possibility that Nintendo will be doing something like this in the future," he said. "Personally, though, I don't really think it's going to be a significant source of revenue to our industry."