Is the Nintendo 3DS Grossly Overpriced?

Is the Nintendo 3DS Grossly Overpriced?

Love hurts. That’s the general sentiment with Nintendo fans right now, who learned that the Nintendo DS’s successor, the Nintendo 3DS, will cost ¥25,000. Given that both the US dollar and the Japanese yen are staggering around the market with the vigor of poisoned mice, that translates roughly into $300 USD. And $300 USD for any games system–especially a portable system–is a big “yikes.”

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata didn’t exactly salve the sting by stating at the end of September that the Nintendo 3DS’s price was set partially by the enthusiasm we projected for the system at E3 2010. We’re excited for the 3DS, so we can expect to pay a pretty penny for the potential savior of 3D gaming. It’s a sensible strategy, given Nintendo’s desire to capitalize on their unique investment. Still, it’s hard not to feel a little betrayed.

However, Wired‘s Chris Kohler brings a very important point to the fore: Nintendo hasn’t announced an official price for the 3DS yet. That means, exchange rate or no exchange rate, a $300 USD price tag for the 3DS isn’t confirmed. In fact, it’s not even likely.

“Nintendo’s prices for the last few years have converted over at about 100 yen to the dollar,” Kohler wrote on Wired‘s blog. “The first Nintendo DS was ¥15,000 and $150. The DSi XL launched at ¥19,000 and $190. In cases where there has been a disparity, the U.S. version has been cheaper — DS Lite launched in Japan at ¥16,800 and in the U.S. for $130. Yes, the fact that the yen has gotten stronger might have an impact on Nintendo’s pricing worldwide. Nintendo has often blamed its falling profits on the weak dollar, since so much of its money comes from U.S. sales.”

“But the trap that some industry watchers seem to be falling into is thinking that because ¥25,000 used to equal $250 and now equals $300, that means that 3DS costs $50 more than Wii. Fluctuations in the yen/dollar relationship don’t directly affect the average Japanese person who isn’t exchanging international currency.”

Kohler also pointed out that a $300 for a handheld system carries “a heavy psychological burden” that Nintendo is aware of, especially in the US. The 3DS, he said, is more likely to be priced at $250 USD.

Be that as it may, Nintendo should have announced a US price for the 3DS up front. Obviously, not everyone is familiar with Nintendo’s pricing history, or the strengths and weaknesses of the Japanese yen; they’re just going to go for a straight conversion because it provides an easy estimate, even if straight conversion is more relevant in travel and tourism than product pricing. As one commentor on Kohler’s blog noted, “For now, the 3DS is $300 until Nintendo says otherwise.” Nintendo should say otherwise, and it should do it soon.

Iwata’s remark about pricing the 3DS according to audience enthusiasm has also left a bad taste in more than a few people’s mouths. If Nintendo did try to retail the 3DS for $300 USD, it might get away with it by noting that the system is full of awesome technology. By essentially saying, “You’ll pay this price because you’re all suckers,” our sunny outlook towards the 3DS has clouded over a little.

People are excited about the Nintendo 3DS’s game lineup, and there’s little doubt the company will have another hit portable on its hands. But while Nintendo’s fanbase is one of the most supportive in the world, its budget and its ego has its limits. If Nintendo keeps that in mind, it’ll continue to dominate the market instead of merely succeeding.

About Nadia Oxford
Nadia is a freelance writer living in Toronto. She played her first game at four, decided games were awesome, and has maintained her position since. She writes for 1UP.com, Slide to Play, GamePro and other publications, and is About.com’s Guide to the Nintendo DS.

1 Comments

  1. I love Nintendo products. Thought they would do better with pricing.

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