Nintendo's quirky new video game console, the Wii, goes on sale Sunday, just two days after the launch of the rival PlayStation 3 from Sony turned violent at some stores. The release of the Wii is expected to be less dramatic, mainly because Nintendo has made sure to have a lot more units available than Sony could muster.
Launching right after the much-hyped PlayStation 3 is a brave move for Nintendo Co., which is playing catch-up after losing dominance of the home console market to Sony Corp. in the mid-90s.
The console itself is a daring design: it eschews the high-definition graphics that are the main selling points of the PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360, which came out a year ago. Instead, Nintendo hopes to attract a new generation of fans by changing the way games are played. The console comes with a motion-sensitive controller that acts as a tennis racket, baseball bat, steering wheel, gun or sword depending on the game.
Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime said the company made "some very tough choices" in designing the Wii.
"Tough choices about not including a DVD player at the start, tough choices about not including high-definition capability at the start. That's because we wanted a mass-market price, and we believe the market will validate those decisions come launch day on this Sunday," Fils-Aime said.
The Wii costs $250 and includes one game. The two PlayStation 3 models cost $500 and $600, with no included game. The two Xbox 360 models cost $300 and $400, with no game. Online, the prices are steeper: PlayStation 3s were selling for around $2,500 on eBay Saturday, while Wiis were listed at around $500, or double the store price.
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