Take it as you will, but website Forget the Box has heard various details pertaining to the Wii U's production and manufacturing costs from a number of sources. The Wii U and its controller's parts and assembly cost around $180 total, and the controller in specific is only around $50. Considering these costs and the various others associated with bringing a console to retail, the source believes the Wii U won't retail for anything less than $300.
This retail price estimation is comparable to Nintendo's other recent hardware release, the 3DS. Costs for parts and assemble for the handheld were between $100 and $150, but the final product was sold for $250. In a less relative comparison, the Kinect originally cost only $56 when to make, which surprisingly puts the innovative touch-screen controller at a lower production cost.
According to the anonymous source:
“Nintendo chose an economical GPU and CPU that could keep up with the performance of today’s current consoles, but keep hardware costs down to maximize profits. Nintendo got a bargain price on the custom GPU and CPU that the Wii U uses. There is a bigger focus on downloadable content, applications, video content, digital distribution, and services to create a stream of revenue. Investors will be ecstatic with the news.”
What the Wii U is officially priced at will likely be revealed at this year's E3, where the final-product console will potentially be available to poke and prod. The Nintendo Wii launched at a scant $250, though each additional controller and nunchuck added $50 more. $300 seems like a reasonable price point between affordability and profit. Nintendo does love to profit off of consoles, however.
In my opinion, anything between $250-$350 will be reasonable, but the console's true success will be measured by its launch titles and -- more importantly -- the bundled title. The majority of the Wii's success can be associated with its bundling of Wii Sports, a budget title that showed off the myriad of ways the Wii's controller could be fun and social. Will such a game exist for for the Wii U? I'm betting so. And at that point I doubt many will care how much parts and manufacturing cost for the console.