Nintendo gives 3DS a huge price cut, free games to early adopters

It looks like the 3DS isn’t blowing people away in the same way Nintendo’s last two hardware offerings (the Wii and the DS) did.  The company announced today that it would slash the 3DS price from $249.99 down to a startling $169.99.  The new price will become effective on August 12.  That is a 30% price cut on a device that is only about 6 months old.

Nintendo gives 3DS a huge price cut, free games to early adopters

So what about all of the people who purchased the handheld at launch and are currently seething with rage over the huge drop?  Nintendo is instituting a “3DS Ambassador” program for anyone who has purchased the handheld and logs into the eShop before 11:50pm EST on August 11th.  Everyone who meets that deadline will get free games, 20 total free games to be exact.

The 20 titles will be split, 10 from the NES and 10 from the GBA.  The NES games will include Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong Jr., Balloon Fight, Ice Climber, and The Legend of Zelda.  Nintendo didn’t announce the other five games and they made it clear that these titles would be available to everyone to purchase at a later date.

The GBA offerings are going to include Super Mario Advance 3: Yoshi’s Island, Mario Kart: Super Circuit, Metroid Fusion, WarioWare Inc: Mega Microgame$, and Mario vs. Donkey Kong.  Again, the remaining five games weren’t listed.  What’s more interesting is Nintendo claims that these titles will not be available for purchase later on, meaning as of right now the only way to play them on the 3DS is to purchase the device before the price drop.

The announcement from Nintendo indicates none of these titles will be available to download until September 1 and the GBA games will be available by the end of 2011.

Nintendo also posted their first quarter earnings today and to say the outlook was grim is a bit of an understatement.  Overall sales were in the red 50% compared to the same period last year.  Nintendo immediately revised it’s overall profit projection for 2012 and it came in a ridiculous 82% lower than previously listed.

The company is largely blaming much lower than expected 3DS sales for the profit loss.  The poor sales of the arguably gimmicky handheld aren’t all that surprising.  When the DS was launched smartphones weren’t flooding the market.  In fact the iPhone didn’t even exist yet.  The only way to play games on the go was with a handheld platform like a DS or the Playstation Portable.  Now everything is very different.  Many people have access to a smartphone and the quality and price of games on those platforms is improving rapidly.  No one wants to carry around their smartphone and a dedicated gaming device anymore.

The truth of the matter is that if Nintendo wanted the 3DS to do well right from the gate, the price should have been lower to start with.  Expecting people to pay $250 for a dedicated handheld device that totted 3D as it’s selling point is a hard sell right now.  The new price point seems a bit more reasonable for what the device provides.  It would be nice to see software prices get slashed as well because charging $40 for the quality of titles the 3DS has is more than a little bit ridiculous.

It will be interesting to see how this impacts the launch of the Playstation Vita, early next year (late this year in Japan).  The system is also launching with a $249.99 price point and many believe that price was chosen specifically to compete with the 3DS.  While the Vita does have a more compelling feature list, it’s still a handheld gaming platform at a lofty price point.  It seems that consumers are no longer interested in paying those prices for handheld gaming when they could as easily use their phone and then leverage the cash they save to just buy a console.

Did you buy a 3DS already?  If you did, are you angry about the price drop and do you feel like the free games make up for it?  If you don’t already own the system, is $170 low enough to get you to bite?  Let us know in the comments.