In Japan Nintendo is selling additional Wii U Game Pads for $170. That’s an insane price for a video game controller.
The price of the Game Pad will not be the same in North America whenever Nintendo makes the controller available for purchase separate from the Wii U console. But it will be pretty high.
Its debatable whether Nintendo charges too much profit for the Wii U Game Pad. Some people have estimated that it could cost less than 100 dollars to manufacture, some saying closer to $60. But those estimates were based off just the costs of the parts, not production, packaging, shipping, etc.
Nintendo will likely release games that support two Game Pads during 2013. It just seems likely. When they do you can expect them to have some heavy hitters to sell these expensive controllers. Maybe it will be Nintendo Land 2, Wii Sports 3 or something else. Wii U Play?
However they do it Nintendo should do one very important thing when they do sell the Wii U Game Pad on its own in North America. They need to bundle it with a free game, and a good game at that.
If the price of the controller is $99, or $129 (these are conservative estimates) than consumers will probably laugh at the price and decide that it isn’t worth owning two controllers with screens in them.
Unless Nintendo releases a smaller controller that cuts down on costs I don’t see consumers being very responsive to a $130+ controller. Especially when that requires another $50 game purchase to be fully taken advantage of.
The easy solution to this is to release software specifically developed to take advantage of multiple Game Pads and bundle it with additional controllers. Like I suggest earlier, Nintendo Land 2 or Wii Sports 3 would be prime candidates. They used Wii Play to sell additional Wii remotes and Wii Sports Resort to sell Wii Motion Plus. Even Microsoft has bundled a game with Kinect since it came out. Its a solid strategy.
Sell these games on their own for the full price of $60 (to help recoup dev costs) but bundle them with $130 Game Pads and Nintendo might have an easier time convincing consumers that they need a third screen in their living room.
Nintendo could even push out software updates (or DLC) to older Wii U games, like New Super Mario Bros U or Nintendo Land, that add features that use two Game Pads. If they did this they could then bundle a game like New Super Mario Bros U or Nintendo Land (with the update or DLC included) with the controller to increase the value of the overall package.
I think we all know that a $130+ Wii U Game Pad is going to be a hard sell for Nintendo. They will need compelling software and the lowest price point possible to get consumers interested in buying another Wii U Game Pad. Bundling new software designed around two controllers, or including older games with updated features is possibly the best way to go about this.