There is a silver lining in the 3DS “disappointment” (Q called it rage)

 

 

Screen shot of the latest original 3DS game.

 

Overnight, Nintendo seems to have done a 180 on the 3DS.  In just a few weeks, they’ll slash nearly a third off the price (landing at $169.99) of their latest handheld just five months after its launch earlier this year.  Surely this means the 3DS must be failing, right?

Hit the jump for a quick breakdown on what’s really going on with the 3DS price drop, and the silver lining for early adopters.

A 3DS price drop was all but assured this year, though I’m surprised it came about so suddenly.  I’m also a bit surprised at how aggressive the drop is, since most consoles and handhelds tend to go with either a smaller price drop or the dreaded bundle route.  But why was there almost a 100% chance of a price drop in 2011?

Hey, this also costs $250, but it looks like it might really have games!

1)  The Playstation Vita – I was in the room when Sony announced the Vita’s price point: $250 for the entry level system.  The applause was immense, and I frankly believe it was because everyone in the room collectively thought, “holy balls, it is the same price as the 3DS.”  One thing that Sony has done well, especially after the PSP, is paint the picture that the hardware in the Vita is worth a console price.  This was always a challenge for the 3DS, and Vita’s giant screen, considerably greater graphics, and announced software all stood as evidence that Sony had a solid handheld. Aggressive pricing is where Nintendo can remain competitive with the Vita, especially since most people aren’t incredibly impressed with the hardware unless they’ve spent time with it.

2)  The holidays – 3DS came out in March.  Barring really awesome Easter baskets, there isn’t much in the way of holiday sales in the Spring.  Without a solid Christmas near its release date, the 3DS was never going to sell well at $250.  Waiting nine months wasn’t an option, not with the Vita coming out in time for the holidays.  Cutting the price in the Fall, just a few months before the holidays, was Nintendo’s best bet.  Hell, even without the Vita, it would have been a smart move to reignite the waning interest in the handheld.

3)  The PR / 3D – Even with the release of Ocarina of Time, there is a perception that there are no games for the 3DS.  Combine this with a general backlash against stereoscopic (which I will always admit a love for), and the 3DS was facing an uphill battle in the minds of gamers.  The only two things gamers like more than hating on systems they don’t own is a) buying games and b) buying new hardware.  Since a price drop facilitates both A and B, it starts to fight the noise of the crowd.

Now, I promised a silver lining for the early adopters.  We spent a full $250 on the damned thing, we should be rewarded right?  No longer will you be the only 3DS elitist at work, school, the strip club, what have you.  No, you’ll have to share your Miis with the unwashed masses once little Timmy gets one just to shut him up.

We get the most precious thing a gamer can be given.  Games.  Free games.  Nintendo will be giving us 20 free games, 10 of which are NES titles (including Super Mario Bros, The Legend of Zelda) and 10 GBA titles.  Now, the NES titles will be available at a later date on the 3DS eShop, but the GBA games will be exclusive to these suckers early adopters.

Most importantly, one of the GBA games is Yoshi’s Island.  If that doesn’t excite you, then there’s nothing I can do.