In a somewhat unprecedented move, especially for Nintendo, the 3DS will be dropping its price to $179.99 a mere five months from release. Since the price drops is occurring so soon after the 3DS release Nintendo is rewarding early adopters with 20 free 3ds games to make sure they do not feel bad about paying more. It certainly is a nice peace offering by Nintendo to keep the early adopter masses from rising up. A few free Nintendo 3ds games should keep gamers happily bottled up in their rooms rather than storming the internet with demands for their $80 back.
The price cut down to $179.99 is nearly a 30% price cut, which is extremely aggressive for such a new device. It was almost certainly done in response to slumping sales by the 3DS out of the gate, at least by Nintendo’s standards. Nintendo has claimed repeatedly that the slow sale are due to a lack of software, but this price cut certainly implies that they also realized that the high price of entry was a major factor as well. When Sony announced that the far more technically advanced PSVita would be launcing at $250 as well, that was really the death punch in Nintendo trying to defend that price point. The 3DS just can’t be priced the same as the Vita with it being so much cheaper to produce. Sony is likely taking a huge loss on the sale of each PSV console at that price point though, so at least Nintendo has that going for them. Even at $179.99, the 3ds likely turns a profit on every sale, something that Nintendo has mastered while all the other game companies take a loss on their hardware sales within the first few months of release.
Things aren’t all grim for Nintendo though. What many people forget is that the original DS struggled with slow sales early on as well. While it didn’t see a price drop quite this fast, it did see one within the first eight months. However, that price drop was much smaller ($150 to $130) than the current one, and after that price drop it held at the $150 price for the remainder of its life until the 3DS Lite launched, which then also launched at that same price. I’m sure Nintendo would be ecstatic if they could hold on to the same price point for the next five years like they did after the first DS price drop.
There is a loophole in the current 3ds price drop roll out. The price drop begins next week, and anyone who purchased their console before the price drop gets the free 20 games via the ambassador program. However, Wal-mart dropped the price of the 3ds today, a week ahead of time. That means that even if you don’t have one yet, you can pick one up at Wal-Mart right now for the lower price and still get the 20 free games via the ambassador program, essentially allowing you to double dip on the reduced price and the free games at the same time.