Yesterday, Nintendo announced that the 3DS would receive a worldwide price drop, with American players seeing $80 lifted off the RRP of a console that’s under six months old. Industry players, journalists and fans alike were shocked by Nintendo’s uncharacteristically sharp U-turn on the console’s business strategy but we’re more interested in whether this price slashing makes us more eager to pick one up. We also let (somewhat angry) existing 3DS-owners chime in on their thoughts about Nintendo’s Ambassador programme, offering twenty free games to anyone who takes their 3DS online before the date of the price drop. Read on to find out what are staff are thinking about all things 3DS.
When I purchased my 3DS a few days after launch, I felt $250 (Canadian) was a decent price given it was new and you’re expected to pay through the nose on day one. I love 3D and wish I could convince my wife to let me upgrade my TV so I could use the PS3 on it. Too bad the game selection wasn’t that great. In the end I don’t regret the purchase. Of course I would liked to have paid less, but when was the last time the Big N cut the price of an offering so quickly? It’s out of character for them to do this. Nice to see Nintendo can change.
Even without the freebies I think early adopters would understand that Nintendo’s a business and it’s got to do what what’s right by them. It’s better for the rest of us: too few 3DS units sold means fewer games. We’re already seeing some announced 3DS titles getting canned and the system isn’t even a year old yet. Nintendo likely has learned by watching Apple with its iPhone price debacle when it was first introduced that you don’t want to piss off the people who buy your gear on day one. You don’t have to give them a refund but you could soften us up with some goodies.
Just wish the goodies were in the form of an eShop credit instead of having no choice in what games we get. I’m not going to feel pampered for a free Balloon Drop or whatever game that has a single-mechanic 5-minutes-and-the-fun’s-over gameplay. Granted, twenty games sounds like a lot, but some of the offerings on the eshop aren’t worth the $2 asking price. But when I went to claim my welcome back gifts for the PlayStation network, I was disappointed with the meager selection. Also, offering games that were super-super popular (like LittleBigPlanet and InFamous) as part of a small selection had the opposite effect on me: I was feeling cheated because I already owned those titles.
Still, right now is a great time to buy in Canada. Best Buy and FutureShop both have the 3DS on sale for $200, now, and Nintendo’s price drop isn’t supposed to go into effect until August 12. For $30 more, by buying now you get the early adopter freebies. Finally we should all thank Sony for bring the Vita in at the $250 price. Competition, it’s always a good thing.
With a less than stellar launch line-up and a, shall we say, underwhelmed public opinion of 3DS it would be easy to sarcastically say “well, what a surprise”. Only, I am genuinely a bit surprised. Not only at how quickly Nintendo have slashed the price but also, to the extent that it has gone down. $169 from $250, is quite a large chunk to snip off an RRP at such an early stage. Taking everything into account, I believe Nintendo have made a good decision here, the imminent arrival of Sony’s VIta, with its high end graphics capability, puts the 3DS in a good position price wise. Getting a good head start on Sony’s next portable is also important, and the new price point is certain to tempt those who are yet to stump up for the 3D portable.
Having said that I can certainly understand the frustrations of people who have already paid the $250 asking price, though hopefully Nintendo’s piece offering of free games will soften the blow to the pocket somewhat. Disgruntled punters are sure to be flooding the boards of Internet land as we speak with their abject horror at such a move though in actuality, this was always going to happen (but maybe not quite so soon). Nintendo recognized they needed to act fast, and help boost the sales of 3DS, this price drop will certainly do that, enticing those teetering on the edge of a purchase, to take the plunge into their pocket for what, has to be said, is a great deal.
M. Noah Ward
I first found out about this news via an IM from my longtime Nintendojo buddy Aaron Steinfeld. I hadn’t checked my email or news sites yet, and he’d put it as “I heard somewhere…”, so we immediately jumped into speculation, not knowing the truth. My first reaction was that sounded unreasonable– that a $20 price drop to $230, akin to what DS did so many years ago (from $150 to $130), seemed more “Nintendo.” And if anything greater than that, which I noted would seem desperate, would be a cut of $50 to $200. But if it were actually $170? I might get one right away– if there were several must-have games that I could get at the same time, too. In a low moment, I did grouse that I was glad I wasn’t an early adopter if this price drop were real, given how anticlimactic and expensive 3DS has been.
Ah, remember the good old days? -Ed.
So the two of us got to internet researching to confirm this story, and lo and behold, it was true. The (questionable) threat that GBA classics like Metroid Fusion would only be available to early adopters in the “20 Free Games” deal almost made me think maybe a $250 3DS was worth it. (Don’t you think it’s funny how Nintendo went out of its way to say there were no plans to bring GBA games to 3DS’s eShop before the system launched, and now the titles are hurriedly being included without any correctional backpedaling?) But I already have those games on their original systems so I don’t feel I’m missing much.
As the spark of gleeful surprise faded into acceptance, I asked Aaron if he were planning on getting a 3DS when the price dropped. He replied he was probably going to wait. And, not to be irksome to people like Evan, who called no later than yesterday to taunt me into finally getting a 3DS (how prescient he was, not even knowing about the price drop yet!), I’m still not sure when I’m getting mine, either. I know I will get one, and there are games I really want for it, but 90% of those are unreleased and 50% don’t even have release dates. And when I look at the upcoming release calendar for the next four months, I feel like it’s Wii all over again: tons of licensed and D-list games, a couple first party gems and one or two third party gems. This isn’t how I felt about DS when I finally got it– scores of fresh, engaging and experimental new games, and the feeling that the potential for the system’s library was vast. Instead, 3DS is still having a rough go with its library, and what’s disquieting is I don’t think it will ever capture that same spirit of excitement. But at least it’ll be cheaper.
I think this price drop is a phenomenal move on Nintendo’s behalf, even more significant than E3’s mostly predictable revelations. With 3DS pretty much in a sales slump from the moment of its release, there could be no greater motivator for the many consumers who were still on the fence over the handheld than a stellar decrease of the MSRP. The must-have titles are just around the corner, and now may very well have been the perfect time for Nintendo to play the discount card and for us to buy into it. I also like how Nintendo is accommodating previous purchasers. Looking out for the victims of a quick and sudden price change seems very professional to me.
Though I still view the idea of 3D as pre-pubescent, I believe it is slowly growing more applicable in electronic mediums. Nintendo just needs to keep doing what it does best: Innovating games. What I’d really like to see is a new franchise (you hear that, Nintendo?) that is based totally on, around and about a three-dimensional experience. That would be like, totally mondo cool.
As an early adopter I’m definitely annoyed, but only to an extent. I’ve been doing this whole gaming thing long enough to know that there is always a risk with new hardware and the selection of free games for us early birds looks satisfactory, especially when you consider the fact they haven’t all been announced yet. And let’s not forget to compliment Nintendo on their rather tacit revelation of GBA Virtual Console — you think they would have made this its own, big announcement.
Putting aside my own reactions as a 3DS owner, I must also say this is a brilliant move for Nintendo, especially with PS Vita expected to be competing for handheld dominance come this holiday. The lower price point definitely helps the 3DS cause, but pair that with the upcoming launch of several major Nintendo franchises later this year and you have the potential for complete domination. Let’s not forget how huge Mario Kart DS was and the role it played in making DS the incredible success it was. I have no reason to doubt that the 3DS version won’t have a similar effect.
Oh boy. This is the last time I let Nintendo rip me off. I purchased a 3DS because of the games shown at E3 2010, and we have none of them. The system is a failure, it has no original games worth a purchase, and I spent $250 on the console on launch day, only to have the price drop to $170 a few months later. When was the last time a console had a price drop of this magnitude so soon after launch? Probably never. And what does Nintendo do for the early adopters? Give us 10 NES games and 10 GBA games. Wow, how kind of you.
You can’t really complain about a free copy of Metroid Fusion, can you?
I own more than 20 NES games on Wii’s Virtual Console, so I’m basically getting games I already paid for. How cool is that? Out of the named GBA titles that will be available, I’d only want Metroid Fusion. The fact that they were able to drop the price like this means that the console isn’t worth $250, and they knew it. I’ve heard that even at $170, they make $70 on every unit. (Though it’s now being reported that Nintendo are making a loss on each console -Ed.) There are still no games, and the games that are available cost too much for what you get. However, I think that we can learn a couple things from the price drop.
The first thing is that Wii U will be priced around $250 for sure. The fact that the price of the 3DS dropped so much leaves a nice hole for Wii U to occupy. The other is that Nintendo is scared, and they should be. The 3DS is a joke right now, and they know it. Vita is around the corner, and will be launching with worthwhile games, unlike 3DS. I also guarantee that there will be more games worth buying on PS Vita in the first few months than there were on 3DS. Honestly, I don’t know how some people will feel about this, but I don’t want Nintendo to ever make another console. They make the best games, but buying a system for only their games is getting old and Wii U will be no different. We’d be better off if Nintendo made PS3 games. Obviously they are having trouble on the hardware side of the business so now is the time to cut it out. They can’t keep up with Sony forever. We never asked for motion control, 3D, or touch screens. We just want the games, so that is all Nintendo should focus on.
I’ve certainly got to tip my hat to Nintendo on making this surprising yet bold move. There’s no doubt that the handheld gaming arena has moved onto a completely different playing field since Nintendo DS launched back in 2004, and I think Nintendo are finally having to come to terms with some of the comments they made at the GDC earlier this year. I remember one particular line going something like this:
“At Nintendo, we see hardware as something people reluctantly purchase to play games.”
This has probably been Nintendo’s biggest problem — there just haven’t been enough great games to persuade people to part with the amount of money Nintendo have been demanding. But as Stuart has said, I think this price drop could be just the thing they need given the upcoming release schedule and the imminent competition from PS Vita.
At the same time though, this is just one more sign that the 3DS was a rather badly planned console. Launching without the eShop, internet browser and all the other features that have been gradually filtering in was one thing, but suddenly realising they got the price wrong too rather reminds me of a certain Sony console that launched around the same time as Wii.
But while I bought my 3DS on day one, I actually only paid £187 (thank you, Amazon!) instead of the £230 RRP, so that was a pretty good discount as far as I was concerned — especially considering $250 equates to roughly £150! There have already been predictions that this new price drop will be somewhere in the region of £150 for UK buyers (where it should have been in the first place, though it’s likely that Amazon will once again push the price down as low as possible), but to be honest, I’m not disappointed that I bought it early. I wanted to play The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D when it came out, so I guess price drops like this are something you’ve got to take in your stride as a gamer.
I’m pretty excited by the twenty free games too. Although I didn’t have to suffer through the PSN debacle, Sony’s fairly measly Welcome Back package didn’t exactly do much to appease angry gamers who already owned all the titles on offer. Nintendo have taken the right step in offering a larger number of games with a wider variety of titles, especially if they don’t plan on releasing the GBA games to the public any time soon. Let’s just hope that this isn’t the beginning of the end for 3DS.
As I’m sure you can tell, the staff are pretty divided (as always!) on this price drop, with neutral parties supporting Nintendo’s sheer un-Nintendoness, early adopters feeling somewhat cheated and prospective buyers still feeling unsure. I’m a similar position to Katharine, living in the UK and taking full advantage of the price war that has been raging over here for months. While I was first angry when I found out that Nintendo was refusing to give the 3DS a concrete price for Europe at the start of the year, the poor sales of the console have forced retailers in the UK to already slash prices as far as this new price drop will take them. While the average selling price at launch for the console was £230, I managed to pick one up for £160 a few months back (which only brought it down to a similar price as the US’s $250, the inflation on tech devices over here is atrocious.) I bought my 3DS then because I knew it wasn’t going to go any cheaper but would definitely increase inprice again, meaning that the best time to buy a 3DS was then, regardless of the games on offer.
Maybe Mario and the gang are stuck in traffic? -Ed.
To that effect, I still have yet to purchase any games for my 3DS (although my DS was broken so at least it’s getting used) but I think that will very much mimic the situation come August 12th, hardcore fans will pick up the console at its discounted price and wait it out for the great games will the fairweather game will shrug off this price drop by claiming that there’s still not anything worth playing. Which there isn’t. The prospect of Super Mario 3D Land or the oddly titled Mario Kart 7 by the end of the year smacks of that old war-time saying, “the boys’ll be home Christmas”. It’s just far too far away for the average consumer to think about and even if you’re only sinking $170 into a new purchase rather than $250, you want to get your money’s worth out it.
To say the 3DS has had a poor launch is a bit of a gross understatement but I suppose Nintendo’s only other option was a launch that would try and fight the PS Vita at every hurdle as they released simultaneously. Nintendo is learning lessons from releases like the GameCube where the PlayStation 2 got a massive head start on them and they never stood a chance of catching up because the library and price cuts beat them at every turn. At the very least, Nintendo has had six months to realise what it’s doing wrong and by the end of the year, you’re going to have a much more affordable 3DS with a library of games to truly brag about whereas the PS Vita is going to begin floundering. Because if you think Nintendo has failed to successfully launch a premium handheld in this market, you forget that they’re the masters of the portable experience. Sony are going to hit rocks and it’s going to be sooner rather than later.
As for the twenty free games, I like free things. As someone that missed the NES the first time round (wasn’t really born) and passed by the Virtual Console on Wii because it just felt out of place, I wouldn’t mind trying out these games one more time. And the GBA series? That’s all my Christmases coming at once. With Game Boy Advance games coming in at $50 each and rarely ever seeing a price drop, I don’t have as broad a collection for the little handheld as I would like. Just give me Pokémon and my life will be complete, Nintendo.
Now it’s your turn, what are your thoughts on Nintendo’s 3DS bombshell? Is it going to make you run out and buy a 3DS today so you can pick up those twenty free games? Or will you wait it out for the price drop and save some extra cash? Let us know in the comments.