Nintendo 3DS – Price Cut Boogaloo
So then. As reported on Eurogamer Nintendo have slashed the price of the 3DS, had millions wiped off their market value and consider themselves at such a low ebb that their president has voluntarily cut his wages by 50%.
Quite why everything has gone so bad so quickly is tricky to judge. The 3DS launched on a wave of mostly positive press (annoying tabloid headlines not withstanding) and given the pedigree of the brand it seemed like a guaranteed success story. The hardware sales have not backed this up, selling about half of the current DS line up.
There is a precedent for this in the recent past; Sony and their transition from the PlayStation 2 to the PlayStation 3. Like the DS, the PS2 was a huge success selling millions of consoles and even more games. Then when the newer, more powerful console was launched…everyone kept buying PS2s. The price of the older console was more palatable but, more importantly, there wasn’t the software line up to justify the cost of the PS3.
With the 3DS is the lack of hardware sales due to a lack of games? After the initial launch there has been a bit of a drought, which is pretty much standard for the video game industry over the summer months. The recent release of Ocarina Of Time and Residential Evil should help but where is the next big game? With the PS3 it took 18 months, price cuts and a hardware redesign before it properly found it’s feet, Nintendo have made the price cut but what if that doesn’t work?
That is too early to judge but if we’re still having this conversation after Christmas then they will be in trouble. The Christmas software line up looks a lot better with several big names like Mario Kart that should make the console more attractive. It will no doubt be aggressively priced by retailers, they have already been selling the 3DS at reduced prices so by Christmas it should be even better value for money.
Nintendo also made a smart move by throwing lots of free games at the people who bought the console at full price. Knowing that these people will no doubt be big Nintendo fans in general, giving away 10 free NES games and another 10 free Game Boy Advance games should be enough to keep people happy. If you factor in that some of the GBA games are stone cold classics that won’t, at least for now, be available to anyone else and you’ve got a well played PR move.
The main thing to take out of all this is that Nintendo now look vulnerable. Not too long ago they had re-established a vice like grip on the video games industry that had previously slipped away from them. This could be history repeating itself; Nintendo dominated with the NES and SNES before their audience slipped away after the launch of the Nintendo64. And now Nintendo’s first attempt to follow up on the huge success of the DS is faltering, what does that bode for the WiiU?
Might it be a good time to announce an X-Box 720? Or a PlayStation 4?
All this and we haven’t even talked about how Apple and it’s App Store is affecting the handheld console market. Interesting times, to say the least.