Nintendo slashes prices on 3DS: Why that’s not good

"My bad."

In February 2011, Nintendo returned to the bitter, poisoned well that is 3D gaming with the release of the Nintendo 3DS handheld.  Many grizzled veteran gamers immediately recalled the great Virtual Boy debacle of 1995 and once again asked “why?”.

Fast forward less than half a year, and Nintendo appears to be asking themselves the same question.  They’ve recently announced a price drop effective on August 12 that will cut the cost of the unit from $249.99 to $169.99.  I’m no industry analyst, but I can’t recall such a steep price cut on a console occurring that fast outside of the aforementioned Virtual Boy and the ill-fated Mattel HyperScan.

While this could be categorized as a simple strategic reaction to the announced price of the upcoming Playstation Vita ($249-299), there are signs pointing to a more serious issue.  Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata followed the price drop announcement by promising the company’s investors that he will be taking a 50% salary cut, along with a 20-30% cut for other top Nintendo executives.  Not to mention that the explicitly stated reason for this price drop is to get an adequate number of consoles in the hands of consumers prior to the release of anticipated first party titles this holiday season.  When has console installation base ever been an issue for Nintendo in the past?

Regardless of the specific reasons behind the sudden drop, third party support for the 3DS is fading fast.  Numerous developers such as THQ, Capcom, and Ubisoft have now jumped ship to some extent, taking with them such hot properties as Assassin’s Creed and Saint’s Row.  Capcom has not fully withdrawn support but has canceled the highly anticipated Mega Man Legends 3.

No matter how you look at it, this doesn’t appear to be good for Nintendo.  As a consumer on a budget, one might initially be excited for an $80 price cut on a shiny new game system, but trust me.  I’ve been through this before, and it’s only fun for about six months until the last game shuffles unceremoniously to retail, its pathetic death rattle clearly audible from the bottom of the wire bargain bin in the corner.

To end on a high note, suckers early adopters are being issued a rare consolation prize slash apology package.  20 downloadable Virtual console games for your soon to be paperweight, including 10 NES titles and 10 Game Boy Advance titles, the latter of which are purportedly not being made available to the general public.  To get in on what Nintendo has dubbed their “3DS Ambassador” program, one simply has to obtain a 3DS and activate the wi-fi prior to 11:59:59 p.m. on 8/11/11.  Whether or not this is $80 worth of sorry I suppose would depend on how much of your stuff you’ve kept for the past 25 years or so.


About Ryan Searles

I like watching movies, and then talking about those movies. Sometimes I write things about them, which you should read. Other interests include boxed wine, video games, the works of Harlan Ellison and HG Wells, and being a general curmudgeon.

Posted on August 1, 2011, in Tech News, Video Games and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I thought the price was way too much in the first place, so I was pleasantly surprised when they dropped it. The only game I’m caring to play on it is OoT of course, but if I get one, I’m pretty sure I’ll end up playing all the games sans the 3D effect. It seems like such a stupid gimmick to me. (the same reason I hate 3D movies)


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