Nintendo’s hot-selling Wii console, which was launched at a media function in Johannesburg this afternoon, will be on sale in SA from this weekend at a recommended retail price of R2 899. Games will retail for between R499 and R599.
Core Group director Rutger-Jan van Spaandonk
The Wii, which has taken the world by storm since its launch in late 2006, has outsold the Xbox 360 from Microsoft and Sony’s PlayStation 3 and is also expected to sell well in SA, despite a price which some punters have described as too high.
Rutger-Jan van Spaandonk, director of Core Group, which has been appointed to distribute the Wii in SA, defends the local pricing, which is at a premium to the prices charged for the system in the US and Europe. He says currency fluctuations, import taxes and the remoteness of SA from the world’s major business centres all contribute to the relatively high price not only of the Wii but of all imported consumer electronics goods sold in the country.
The Xbox 360 Core system is available in SA for slightly less (R2 699) than the Wii, despite the fact that it has more powerful specifications that the Nintendo console. Sony’s PlayStation 3, which has not sold well since its launch in November 2006, retails for R6 499. However, the PS3 is by far the most high-powered of the three competing systems and includes a next-generation Blu-ray disc player for playing high-definition movies.
Van Spaandonk is confident that the Wii will appeal to a broader range of South Africans than both the PS3 and the Xbox 360. He expects it will even find appeal among the elderly. “You’ll see your parents playing this,” he says. “It will still appeal to the hardcore gamer, but suddenly gamers’ wives and girlfriends will want to play with them, with their Wii.”
Where the Wii stands out from its rivals is its wireless controller, which can detect acceleration in three dimensions, making it ideal for playing physical sports games — tennis, golf, baseball — in front of a TV screen. At the launch today, normally sedentary technology journalists were put through their paces.
Above: Finweek’s Ben Kelly (right) takes on Talk Radio 702’s Aki Anastasiou
Five sports games are bundled with the Wii — tennis, golf, boxing, bowling and baseball. The console will be stocked by all major retailers.