NEW YORK (MainStreet) – If you were thinking of buying the Nintendo 3DS, you should probably wait a couple of weeks.
The video game giant announced today a sudden and unexpected price drop for its 3-D portable gaming system. On Aug. 12, the price of the device will drop from $250 to $170 – a whopping 32% price cut on a product that came out just four months ago. The move comes as Sony prepares to launch a competing device, the Vita, to replace its popular PSP mobile device.
If you purchased a 3DS in the first four months of its release and are feeling like you missed the price cut boat, Nintendo is offering a consolation prize in the form of free classic games. If you use your 3DS to sign into the Nintendo eShop by 11:59 p.m. EDT on Aug. 11, you will be entered into the Nintendo 3DS Ambassador program, which gives you free access to 10 NES virtual console games (including Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong Jr. and The Legend of Zelda) when they become available starting Sept. 1.
By the end of 2011 these Ambassadors will also be able to buy 10 Game Boy Advance virtual console games that other 3DS owners won’t have access to, including Yoshi’s Island and Metroid, though it’s unclear how much they will cost.
So why is Nintendo suddenly being so nice to its customers? As always, it comes to down to business realities. After posting a loss in the first quarter of 2011, Nintendo slashed its profit outlook for the year by 82%, and the company clearly hopes that the big price cut will be a shot in the arm for sales of the device. Indeed, the company acknowledged in its latest earning release that the 3DS had few other hit titles besides The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and sales of the hardware were only 710,000 for the first three months it was on sale.
Meanwhile, Sony is poised to launch a competing portable, the PlayStation Vita, at a lower-than-expected $249 starting price.
While a release date has not been announced for the Vita, it’s not hard to imagine that Nintendo is preemptively positioning its own portable as a lower-cost alternative to the highly anticipated device from Sony.