As part of a special offer, Nintendo is now selling refurbished Wii U 32GB systems through its website for $200, a markdown of $50 from the normal $250 asking price for refurbished consoles. It is unknown how many systems are available at the lower price or when the promotion will end.
Refurbished Wii U systems might have "minor cosmetic blemishes," but Nintendo guarantees them to be fully functional and they even come with a one-year warranty. Refurbished Wii Us include everything you'd find in a normal box, including a black console, copy of Nintendo Land, GamePad, sensor bar, and all the cables you need to start playing.
The only downside, on top of whatever cosmetic blemishes you might find, is that the refurbished consoles are not eligible for Club Nintendo registration.
If you're looking for a new Wii U, those currently sell for $300 in bundles that include a system and either The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD or New Super Mario Bros. U. The 8GB Wii U Basic model has been discontinued.
Simply stated, many legislators on Capitol Hill do not understand the economics of video games and how important the gaming industry can be to the economy. That's the opinion of Dean Zerbe, former adviser to the Senate Finance Committee, who spoke with GameSpot about the controversial tax reform bill R&D provision that stands to sting software developers, including makers of "violent" video games if it ever becomes law.
"I think there is a real lack of understanding in Washington, D.C. of the economics of video games to the industry--one video game can make far more than a summer blockbuster movie," Zerbe said. He is now a managing director for Houston-based tax consulting service firm Alliantgroup. "In addition, video games are providing good jobs at good wages. Unfortunately, many policymakers in DC need to be educated about the reality of the gaming industry."
Rockstar Games' acclaimed open-world game Grand Theft Auto V generated $1 billion in three days, a feat most movies never reach in their lifetimes. Of course, GTAV is a special case. But Halo, Call of Duty, and Skylanders are all billion-dollar franchises. Video games are no doubt big business, but their growth could be hampered if the Tax Reform Act of 2014 ever becomes law, Zerbe says.
The document includes an "improved, permanent R&D tax credit," which architects of the blueprint like Rep. Dave Camp (R-Michigan) say will give American companies the "certainty they need to compete against their foreign competition." Any software company can apply for the credit and potentially save thousands of dollars to help grow their businesses. That's good news for businesses in general, but it's not the whole story. The provision's executive summary specifically singles out "violent" video games, but actually "any research" with respect to computer software would be denied the credit under the provisions of the reform act, according to a draft of the legislation. This would be decidedly detrimental to the game industry, Zerbe argues.
"Elimination of the R&D tax credit would be a real blow to the gaming industry in this country" -- Zerbe
"The R&D tax credit is of significant importance to the gaming industry and especially video games. While the Ways and Means Committee talks about targeting violent video games, the reality is the language eliminates the R&D tax credit from all software--a very real negative for everything from Google to Super Mario--not just violent video games," he said. "Elimination of the R&D tax credit would be a real blow to the gaming industry in this country."
Though the reform act specifically calls out "violent" video games, it fails to provide any criteria in all its 979 pages by which such games would be judged. This is a non-issue, Zerbe says, because the "violent" provision of the current iteration of the reform act is not going to hold up.
"Happily, no organization is going to define a 'violent' video game because this provision will never see the light of day," Zerbe said. " I suspect that the Committee itself realized it couldn't just single out violent games because of definitional problems. In addition, such a rifle-shot wouldn't give them the cost-savings they were looking for. So that's why they opted instead for going after software development overall. It's like hunting rabbits with an elephant gun."
The Entertainment Software Association, the group that represents the gaming industry's interests in Washington, is critical of the tax reform act's provision to deny software companies like game developers the permanent R&D credit. Such a measure would threaten American technological advancement, for video games and all software, a representative for the company told GameSpot.
"The U.S. video game industry is a leader in entertainment, providing more than a hundred thousand Americans with jobs across the nation. We are innovating and creating new opportunities constantly in employment, entertainment, fitness, and education. This industry, like all software developers who would be impacted under this proposal, invests billions of dollars every year in research and development and this proposal threatens American technological advancement and economic growth," a representative said. "We look forward to continuing to educate policymakers on our societal and economic contributions and the need to preserve and expand this unique industry."
The Titanfall preload is live on Origin for PC customers who have preordered the game on the platform.
Users on Reddit are reporting that the preload weighs in at around a 20GB download, although when unpacked and installed the full version of Titanfall on PC could come in at almost 50GB.
While developer Respawn Entertainment has said it won't ban legitimate players who manage to receive the game early, Titanfall requires EA's Origin platform so you probably won't be playing the game until they say so.
Titanfall will launch for PC and Xbox One on March 11. An Xbox 360 version will follow on March 25.