3DS Price Cut: Killing Fans’ Trust?

3DS Price Cut: Killing Fans’ Trust?

When Nintendo announced the massive Nintendo 3DS price drop on July 28 ($169.99 USD, down from $249.99 USD), a glut of positive energy rushed from the Internet gaming community. After all, the cut is big news: The Nintendo 3DS’s high price was undeniably a big barrier between the system and potential adopters. Once the holiday season’s line-up beefs up the 3DS’s library, we should see numerous portable gaming enthusiasts vault over their apprehension to pick up the 3DS.

Meanwhile, off to the side, early adopters of the 3DS will have their fists clenched and their mouths fixed in tight, white lines. Nintendo is obviously looking out for its own bacon, but will a massive price cut a mere four months after the 3DS’s initial release erode the confidence of its fanbase?

Hopefully, said fans will be gracious about giving Nintendo some slack. Nintendo has good reasons for dropping the 3DS price beyond hopes of coaxing shy buyers over to the system. One big reason is competition: Even though smartphone gaming is a very different experience from playing a fully fleshed-out game on a portable game system like the 3DS or the PS Vita, there is still intense competition for the hearts, attention, and pocket money of casual gamers. Men and women who loved Brain Age and Nintendogs will need a bit of incentive to pick up a 3DS instead of a smartphone that offers tons of 99-cent games.

Another reason for the price cut may be reputation. Though the 3DS is already far and away more successful than the ill-fated Virtual Boy, that hasn’t stopped people from murmuring comparisons. Nintendo has long been the king of handheld gaming barring the Virtual Boy misstep, and it wants to stay there. Left on its own, the $249.99 Nintendo 3DS might have wound up a slow starter with a long shelf life, not unlike the PlayStation 3. But Nintendo’s not interested in slow starts, period (even Sony admits that it can’t afford another slow start with the PlayStation 4). It had planned to come out strong, and it intends to finish strong.

Early adopters of the Nintendo 3DS might not be ready to see things from Nintendo’s perspective, though. It’s admittedly a little jarring to put your faith in a company and a system, and then watch said company slash the system’s price in what can only be determined as a fit of non-confidence. It’s hard to believe in a product when the company that makes it is obviously not secure about its chances on the market.

If you’re an “Ambassador” and you feel burned, try looking at things this way: Nintendo may not be absolutely sure about the survival of the Nintendo 3DS at $249.99, but initiating a price cut now practically ensures a large adoption rate, which, in turn, ensures a strong and healthy future for the Nintendo 3DS. A slip in confidence is not nearly the same thing as system abandonment. In this instance, Nintendo intends to do the opposite. It wants to support the Nintendo 3DS, and it wants third parties to do the same, but the Nintendo 3DS’s slow warming period has caused developers to back away.

In other words, a price cut today means a sizable user base tomorrow.

Moreover, Ambassadors will be compensated with 20 free (pre-selected) downloadable games from the Virtual Console on Nintendo’s eShop , which is a testament to how digital material makes it cheap and easy for companies to soothe over relations with irritated customers. Is it enough? When you work out the value of the downloadable games versus their full price on the eShop, they more than make up the gap between the new 3DS price and the old one. Granted, it would be fantastic if Nintendo would let burned consumers choose the 20 games, though getting third party content involved would understandably make things a little difficult.

Ladies and gentlemen who paid $249.99 USD for a Nintendo 3DS have reason to feel like they’ve been kicked in the tailbone by the company they love, but once again, we’re forced to remember a lesson we’ve been rehashing over and over lately: Game companies do their best to please us, but they’re not our friends. They’re businesses. They must do whatever is necessary to thrive, since mere survival is not enough for a company the size of Nintendo.

Besides, being a Nintendo fan means understanding its actions and decisions, even when said actions are seemingly incomprehensible. In this instance, though, there are clear reasons for the 3DS’s price cut. Those of us who dished out full price for the 3DS must make a choice: We can see where Nintendo is coming from and continue to support it and the 3DS, or we can exercise our right as consumers and cease buying Nintendo products. “Now You’re Playing With Power,” indeed.

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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