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Nintendo nearly abandoned Wii U tablet peripheral due to price concerns

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Affordable components mean an affordable console.

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Game & Wario
Game & Wario

Nintendo officials cite component pricing as a top strategy in determining the Wii U's technical specs.

Nintendo nearly jettisoned plans for the GamePad, the Wii U's tablet peripheral, in an effort to control costs according to Nintendo president Satoru Iwata.

"Sometime during that final discussion we almost gave up on the idea of the additional screen," Iwata told the UK Telegraph. "This was due to our concern over the expected high cost, it may not have been feasible to create this and sell it at a reasonable price point for the consumers."

Since E3, Nintendo representatives have sought to explain the rationale underlying the company's next console. The Wii U's design — as well as much of Nintendo's recent communication — has focused on controlling prices.

Nintendo's Shiguero Miyamoto recently told Kotaku that component prices influenced Nintendo's decision to use "affordable" internal sensors, which lack the precision of more expensive alternatives. Miyamoto sees Nintendo's goal as "bringing in the best technology we can within a cost that's affordable. The rest of it is on us to ensure in the software that we're programming it in such a way to adapt for that."

Sometime during that final discussion we almost gave up on the idea of the additional screen.

Though Nintendo has not announced the Wii U's retail price, controlling costs has become a theme in several post-E3 interviews with Nintendo executives.

"You look at the Wii; Wii stayed at $250 for a really long time, and so we're going to give that same level of thought to the Wii U," Reggie Fills-Amis told GamesIndustry International. "How do we launch at a value that we're going to be able to sustain for a long time? I think people are going to be pleasantly surprised, if you will, about the way we're managing the value equation."

In a Q&A Session during E3, Iwata elaborated on the advantages afforded by the Wii U's hardware.

"Of course because we have designed a new hardware system, we are using new technology and we are using new GPUs," Iwata said. "But as we have to devote significant costs to the Wii U GamePad, if we were to apply the same level of enhancement that other console manufacturers shoot for to the processing power component, the Wii U would become extremely high in price, and it would not be affordable.

"Ultimately, we're looking to maintain a price point for the Wii U that is reasonable in comparison to the value to be offered."

Nintendo has struggled to find a unifying theme to explain the Wii U's core experience. Unlike the Wii, which effectively explained itself with demos of Wii Sports, Iwata concedes that Wii U is more difficult to demonstrate to the public. "On the stage we couldn't fully explain what's so unique about our product," Iwata told the UK Telegraph. "It's only after people come to our booth and have the hands-on experience with the Wii U they started to realize that it is a surprise."