The original Wii launched at $250, making it the cheapest of the three current generation consoles. It's also arguably the most successful. Same story with the DS: cheaper than the PSP, and inarguably the more successful of the two.
The 3DS, on the other hand, launched at $250—a price many deemed too expensive for a handheld, and suffered for it. So much so that Nintendo lowered the price to $170 less than a year later.
That makes the rumor that the Wii U—set to launch next fiscal year—could cost as much as $600 all the more implausible. Nevertheless, that's the buzz. Retailers including EB Games Australia, Zavvi.com and, reportedly, French retailer Carrefour are pricing it at the equivalent of $600 USD.
A big factor here is likely the tablet controller, an innovation for the Wii but undoubtedly expensive to produce. The PS3 launched at $600, and even hardcore gamers were barely willing to pay for it—for Nintendo to believe that their casual-heavy audience would go for the same tag on their shiny Wii U is unlikely.
We may find out for sure at E3 2012, when Nintendo is likely to present the final details of the new system's launch. What would you pay for the Wii U? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter or Facebook.