As soon as Nintendo announced the shocking 3DS price drop, from $249.99 to $169.99 August 12, we imagined CEO Satoru Iwata briskly jogging from behind a curtain, standing in front of a podium addressing the millions of fans worldwide:
“Ok, ok. $249.99 was too expensive. We apologise.”
For the past four months, the company had tried (in vain) to sell 3DS at that price and had failed, at least according to its own goal of reaching four million units by the end of April; it did, in fact, come up roughly 400,000 systems short.
No surprise, since 3DS was Nintendo’s most expensive portable system, outside of the failed Virtual Boy. It’s hard to sell something at that price when consumers are used to paying between $100-$180, as they have for more than 20 years.
It also didn’t help that Nintendo has always felt more like a toy company, compared to electronics giants Sony and Microsoft. No one, aside from the filthy rich (some of which are the cheapest folks you’ll meet) want to pay $250 for a toy, even one that boasts glasses free 3D.
That said, Nintendo’s fiercest opponents will probably bash the company for lowering the price so drastically, since it’s clear sign of failure.
We, on the other hand, think the price drop is a smart move.
First, it makes the handheld more appealing to casual consumers, the same group that purchased DS systems by the millions. Combine that price with the impressive holiday lineup (Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 3D, Star Fox 64 3D), and there’s no reason to avoid buying one.
Second, it puts Sony in the now uncomfortable position of selling PlayStation Vita for $249.99. There’s no way the company will respond with a lower price before the system’s debut. It would look even more desperate.
Finally, and this is especially important, this rewards current 3DS users, who will be able to download 10 NES and 10 Game Boy Advance titles free of charge before the end of the year. Most times, companies could care less about early adopters. Here, Nintendo ate a slice (or six) of humble pie and delivered marvelously.
None of this guarantees a 3DS victory, but it should provide a sales jumpstart that’ll carry into the holidays and beyond, so long as the software remains consistently good.
Of course, if this doesn’t work, we have no idea what will.