Will the Nintendo 3DS Price Cut Hurt the Wii U Launch?

Will the Nintendo 3DS Price Cut Hurt the Wii U Launch?

If you feel bad about spending $250 on a Nintendo 3DS before you knew about the $80 August price drop, don’t worry: Chances are, Nintendo feels worse.

Nintendo President Satoru Iwata has been apologizing up and down for the price drop since it was announced on July 28. Iwata is even worried that Nintendo’s most faithful might wind up so burned by the cut that potential early adopters of the Wii U will think twice about grabbing the new console at launch.

“With regard to the influence on the Wii U, what we have to take most seriously is that the price markdown could damage the trust of the consumers who bought the Nintendo 3DS just after the launch,” Iwata admitted during an investors’ Q&A. “I feel greatly accountable for it. Our decision of the price markdown this time has a side effect that, at the launch of the Wii U, people may feel that the price might drop in the near future if they wait.”

Iwata’s worries are not baseless. According to Gamasutra, a recent survey of 6,500 Japanese 3DS owners (conducted by 4Gamer and translated by games journalist Daniel Feit) indicates that 30% of the 3DS owners surveyed feel angry and upset over the price cut, and that the Ambassador program’s free games won’t be enough to soothe the sting. The survey also outlines general dissatisfaction over the 3DS’s library and its future line-up.

A survey conducted amongst 6,500 people by a single website isn’t a foolproof measurement of the entire public’s opinions about the 3DS, but you don’t have to stretch your imagination very far to realize that there’s a sense of betrayal and mistrust amongst 3DS owners that could potentially gum up the Wii U’s launch. It’s not just about hurt feelings: It’s also about savvy buyers legitimately wondering if/when Nintendo will drop the price of the Wii U at the first sign of the system having trouble at retail.

Nintendo stands a chance of avoiding this scenario if it makes the Wii U a must-have system from day one. Iwata’s apologies are appreciated, as most game companies with a burned buyer base usually say nothing, or tell the offended to go fly a kite. But the best way to make things up to loyal Nintendo fans is to not let the same mistakes happen twice.

For instance, the 3DS’s price point has always been troublesome, but it arguably would have been less of an issue if Nintendo had presented killer apps from launch day–and that includes a fully functional eShop stocked with Virtual Console must-haves. If the Wii U has a handful of strong first party offerings available at launch (since the 3DS’s slow start seems to indicate that it’s difficult for a Nintendo console to launch on third party titles alone), it’ll make it a lot harder to sit on the Wii U–and it’ll also prove difficult to stay mad at Nintendo.

Of course, if the Wii U banks on a strong launch line-up, it’ll have to dodge another troubled piece of Nintendo’s history: The front-loaded Wii, which offered gobs of great games at launch, and then had few appealing games to lean on until Super Smash Bros Brawl finally made it into the world.

People won’t readily forget Nintendo’s missteps, but time does heal wounds. If 4Gamer were to conduct another 3DS survey within six months, it would probably get a lot fewer respondents who are prepared to sell out Nintendo for Sony. Time, combined with proof from Nintendo that it’s not going to succumb to the temptation of a weak, rushed Wii U launch, should be enough to repair the worst of the damage between Nintendo and its fanbase.

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.

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