Just a reminder: today is cheap Nintendo 3DS day and, sadly, it is the end of availability for Nintendo’s unusual “ambassador” program. The device is now available for $169 – down from its launch price of $249 – and they will be launching the 3DS in “Flame” aka “Mario” Red this September.
Why, then, is this news? Well, as is the case with many recent price reductions, Nintendo overshot. Although, in theory, the 3DS technology is wildly superior to previous portable consoles, the fact remained that those selfsame consoles were just fine for playing the vast majority of DS games. 3D was – and still is – a gimmick and although I found the console fascinating I suspect, at launch, parents were balking at paying another two and a half clams for another Nintendo console.
At $169 the device is considerably cheaper and considerably more accessible. However, I worry that the dip will create a negative perception in the market. Console-makers traditionally have been very aggressive and stalwart in their pricing. Console prices don’t drop until sales are well beyond sales plateau that happens during a console launch. Forced shortages, grey market aftersales, and general chatter all combine to create a perfect revenue storm and only when that storm dies down do we see any major price reductions.
In the end I’m sure Nintendo will do just fine on the 3DS. They’re aiming at an older, more nostalgic market and they understand kids are happy with a new Pokemon title every few years. However, for them to reduce prices so early is a negative sign in almost every respect except one – the price reduction means more people will be willing to try out Nintendo’s vision of the future of handheld gaming.