Nintendo Wii launches in South Africa

Time of article published Sep 28, 2007

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Gaming giant Nintendo has at last launched Wii in South Africa. The compact gaming console will reportedly be available in local retail stores this weekend. The expected selling price is R2 899, with games going for between R499 and R599.

Wii was launched in the European and American markets late last year, and has since then been ranked as the world's most popular gaming console. In April this year, Nintendo sold 360 000 Wii's in America alone, which was more than four times the number of Sony Playstation 3s sold. Microsoft's Xbox 360 gaming platform, which was launched in 2005, sold 174 000 units.

The Xbox 360 is slightly cheaper than the Wii, and retails for R2 699 in South Africa, while the Playstation 3 has been selling for around R6 699 since its launch in the country in July. This is far more than the $499 (about R3 400) it costs in America.

Official South African distributor of the Wii, Core, attributed currency fluctuations and import taxes to the price of the console, which has been criticized as expensive by some gamers. However, it is expected to do well in the South African market. The console, though not easily available until now, has already been imported into South Africa via unofficial distribution channels, and seems to be growing in popularity in gaming circles. Consumers had the option of pre-ordering consoles at the end of August this year.

The Wii is currently the smallest gaming console on the market, with Nintendo's production team aiming to make it "no larger than three stacked DVD cases". Compared to the Playstation 3, with its higher resolution of 1080 pixels and extra functionality, the Wii's resolution fades in at 480 pixels, but has more of a gaming focus.

It is compatible with its predecessor GameCube's software, offering consumers the option of playing familiar and classic games. Wii is also motion-sensitive and has Wi-Fi capabilities. Says Genyo Takeda of the production team, "While Wii embraces cutting-edge technology and performance, the direction it is aiming in is completely different to that of previous systems."

The Wii is bundled with sports games - tennis, golf, boxing, bowling and basketball.

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