What the hell is up with that Nintendo 3DS price tag?

When I’m wrong, I admit it, and I’m eating crow today after seeing the Japanese launch price for the 3DS. Nearly $300, after conversion from yen to U.S. dollar? Cripes!

Now, the West rarely pays a 1:1 equivalent when it comes to how things are first priced in Japan before they come here (same for Europe with VAT, and all that), but still…I’m having trouble seeing how this 3D portable migrates much further than $250 when it hits these United States.

Seriously, the first thing I thought of when I saw the price this morning was “gee, that sounds an awful lot like something Sony would do.” Meaning, one of the big reasons why Sony’s stuff didn’t do that well this time around was high price coupled with cutting edge tech. Most people simply did not see a need, nor could they afford, what Sony was peddling—this goes for the PS3 as well as the PSP.

I sincerely hope that Nintendo has not let the insane profits of the past five years go to their head, a la Sony. The Wii is great, and the DS platform has no equal, but that doesn’t give a company—Nintendo or otherwise—license to start telling the customer what they want and what a “fair price” or “incredible value” will be. That’s Microsoft talk. Hell, the specs aside, the 3DS form factor doesn’t exactly scream “tear me off the shelf.”

Don’t do it, Nintendo. Prove me wrong.

25 Responses to What the hell is up with that Nintendo 3DS price tag?

  1. elmer says:

    To repeat myself in the previous post, I’m pretty sure it’s gonna be $250. The exchange rate is just particularly bad at the moment. Nintendo is fully aware of what the mass market is willing/able to pay, and it varies territorially – in Japan they can reasonably currently afford 25,000 Yen. It’s actually been the case with previous systems in the recent past, where they sell the device for less in foregin markets. Moreover, I expect that the SKU may vary a bit. I reckon they reckon the home market is very receptive at the moment, but that they may release a cheaper version across the seas minus the pack-in SD card and docking station.

  2. Mohan says:

    I do hope when it officially announced here, the 3DS will have more comparable price tag…like around the same as the DSi did when it launched here last year.

  3. babble says:

    – Bad looking industrial design (who’s going to get caught, again, into buying the first gen look of the 3DS when we all know that in 12 months, the real definitive/good looking version will come out?);

    – 250$+;

    – Not out before X-Mass 2010.

    Not looking good Nintendo…

  4. Josh says:

    Nintendo could be setting up a 2-tier system. The DS is still a very viable system for the lower price range.

  5. Blake says:

    Even at $250, I think most consumers will balk, if only for being a portable gaming device. Put differently, PSP tanked at $250.

    http://www.infendo.com/nintendo-3ds-coming-to-u-s-and-yurp-in-march/

  6. ????? says:

    http://www.zeldainformer.com/2010/09/3ds-release-date-announced.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+zeldainformer+%28ZeldaInformer+News+Feed%29

    check the comments for 2 links about 3DS launch titles

    and if it is launched with a 2GB SD card that would explain $10-$20 more (out of $300) on the price tag.

  7. baelnic says:

    I won’t be purchasing this until it’s below $200. They better have amazing games or they are ceding the handheld market to iOS as it is a better value.

  8. Sean says:

    The PSP argument has merit, but I pretty much expected this price point the instant I picked the device up at E3. Anyone who didn’t was fooling themselves.

    I fully support this blatant display of capitalism, and even if I wince a little – I’m not going to blink at this price. Hands-on? Felt like it was worth it. Still, I would like to see it come down a little when it comes stateside. 250 would be easier to palette.

    Still, the PSP argument has decent merit. The PSPgo did have the difference of offering LESS than it’s lower priced model for a higher price, so it’s not a 1:1 comparison – but it still speaks of the kind of price the market will tolerate for a handheld system.

  9. Bbelt says:

    I still stand by comment from a while back:
    “Bbelt says…
    June 21st, 2010 at 11:32 am
    If the 3DS has strong support from Hollywood studios, and is a viable alternative as a 3-D movie player, I would be OK with paying $300. If the movie line up is weak, I don’t want to pay more than $229.”
    I haven’t had any hands on time with the thing, but everything I’ve read says Nintendo has nailed the 3d effect. If I can throw in some earbuds and watch Avatar in 3D while on a plane, then switch over to my virtual console games, it’s not too bad of a deal.

  10. elmer says:

    Blake: The PSP may have underperformed, but it certainly didn’t “tank”. 60 million units makes it by far the most successful 2nd place console in the history of gaming, and about 7th on the all time list. The PSP-Go had other issues, not least of which was an inability to play PSP games – kind of a big deal. I don’t think there’s anyone who would question that the 3DS is massively more attractive a prospect than that turd. As for iOS, I’m not convinced it is better value, or that the market will see it that way, or that it would even seriously affect purchasing intentions. The arguments are too numerous to describe. Nevertheless they include such issues as software quality, quantity and entertainment value, 3D vs old-D (I’m coining that), distribution mechanisms, demographic accessibility, actual mind share (not the vapourous gaming and tech site mis-perceptions), multiplayer, back catalogues and compatibility, various software features in both directions, memory size, flexibility and cost, buttons, resolution, screen real-estate, speakers, camera quality and functions, battery life, pocketability, future support etc etc.

    Anyway the best post I’ve seen on pricing over on Kotaku:

    Scaramanga
    08:16 AM

    ¥25,000 for the 3DS is inline with historical pricing in Japan, its merely that the yen has spiked in value since this recession.

    Let’s consider that the both the Wii and the PSP launched for Â¥25,000. In 2004 when the PSP launched Â¥25,000 was worth $224, in 2006 when the Wii launched Â¥25,000 was worth $212. Today that same amount of yen is worth $298.

    Ultimately, the PSP launched in the US for $199 and Wii launched for $250. I would expect that range to be the same today.

    The reason that the dollar has crashed in value is due to the massive QE (quantitative easing) measures that the US has taken since the Lehman brothers crash. To pay for the trillions of dollars required for bailouts and the stimulus plans the US government has basically been printing money using QE methods. This has weakened the dollar.

    At the same time, the Euro has taken a hit due to the Greece’s sovereign debt crisis.

    With both the US and European currencies weak there has been a flood of money into the Japanese yen, combined with the Japan’s long-standing deflationary issues, this has dramatically increased the value of the yen (a bad thing for Japanese exporters).

    However, being that the Chinese pegs their currency to the dollar, and most goods are made in China, it doesn’t cost more to buy Chinese-made goods. As the dollar weakens so does the cost of making goods in China.

    For Nintendo this means that making Chinese-made 3DS won’t cost more then it used to since the workers are paid in yuan not yen.

    The strong yen does impact Nintendo’s overseas profitability when denominated in yen, that is if they convert it back into yen when the yen is strong. What most companies do is park their money into foreign accounts until exchange rates are desirable or reinvest it the currency they own.

    Being that the global market is still in recession, I wouldn’t expect Nintendo to price their console too high. $250 seems to be a price Nintendo has judged to be a success as the Wii has shown. I would expect the pricing model to follow the Wii.

  11. frstOne says:

    Yeah, 3ds looked really expensive from the beginning. I always lined up for a $250 price tag. You know, Nintendo doesn’t like to lose money per console sold.

    But, as I always say, if it cost $200 or less, I’ll go running to buy one. If it cost more, I’ll go walking.

  12. Blake says:

    @elmer

    Fair enough on “underperforming” instead of tanking. But this official release says the PSP launched for $250.

    http://psp.ign.com/articles/584/584983p1.html

    Was that not the case?

  13. Verius says:

    Canadian price is prolly gonna get jacked up to $350.

  14. elmer says:

    Yes, $250 in the US, and about 25,000 Yen. It just shows how 1: the exchange rates really have been fluctuating a lot, (as has inflation). 2: Nintendo intends to position this as a fairly technologically premium device comparable to the launch of the original PSP, though obviously, they also believe, more desirable.

    I think they think they have the upper hand compared to the launch of the PSP (I think they’re right – a more compelling unique feature, almost certainly a more sensible portability factor, better software support, more industry support, less direct competition etc.), and that the existing DS line will continue to fill out the bottom end of the market. Moreover they’re in a much better position to price cut over time than Sony were, almost certainly with a significant margin vs reportedly awful loss leading – so the can downward adjust over time as they need to.

  15. Matthew says:

    Yeah, $300 , a bit much. Hello Nintendo, thi is not a Microsoft Zune here, this is a gaming system. They are at risk of alienating their fanbase with this price point if this carries over to the US as $300. I sincerely hope it doesn’t. I can see this thing at a price pont of $250 here in the US. I mean, sure it has virtual console, great, and it has incredible 3D effects without glasses, awesome, but $300, Nintendo? This has Sony written all over it!! This $300 price point , well for Japan at least, is the cost of the PS3 and ona portable side of things, is more than the PSPGo. C’mon, Nintendo, don’t do this. reduce the 3DS prcie to $250 , pleaseeeeeeeeeeeee!!

  16. bananaoomarang says:

    c’mon guys, have faith. NOA haven’t announced the price for a reason, I live in the UK so I’ve got VAT to deal with but they WILL NOT price the 3DS at $300, that wouldn’t work. $250, maybe. You do get a charging cradle, 2GB SD card and 6 AR cards. Thats quite a few extras. If they are going to price the bundle too high, they will release a bundle without SD card + charging cradle.

  17. Matthew says:

    I don’t know, this is Nintendo we are talig about here. They LOVE and WANT your money!! Don’t be surprised if this is $300, all I am saying. Oh hell, I probably will get this anyway, regardless. Just need to save up for this.

  18. Chris_wing says:

    Ooooh, Nintendo, no, thats $50-$80 to much. I could buy a 360 and 2 new games for that price.

  19. David says:

    $250 is not especially surprising given the technology. Look at the new iPod Touch, $230 for the starter model. It’s in line with the market right now. However, for whatever we want to believe about the Wii being innovative and exciting new thinking, it sold so well because it was a few hundred dollars cheaper than the competition. A parent goes to the store and sees a $400 XBox, $600 PS3 and a $250 Wii that comes with games that evoke a wholesome image of the family playing together… you’re gonna buy the Wii, forget the kid’s begging for Halo.

    The priority here is beating the iPhone/iPod. They’re a multimedia machine that sells games for $5 alongside music, tv, movies, and useful applications. Nintendo can’t rely on what they’re used to. 3DS games will be upwards of $50 inevitably, and to this point the devices have done little more than play games (which is good, I don’t want to watch movies and read books on a device like that). That’s not gonna work this time around. There needs to be a virtual console and DSWare store with some seriously competitive games for a cheap price. If they can produce a appealing online market, I think they’ll do fine. Otherwise, they better get that thing under $200 fast or Apple will clobber them in the next few years.

  20. nin says:

    mayhaps they haven’t given us our release date because they are seeing what we would think about the conversion of 300 dollars, seeing what we are willing to pay.

  21. John says:

    @ Chris_wing

    “Ooooh, Nintendo, no, thats $50-$80 to much. I could buy a 360 and 2 new games for that price.”

    Your comparing apples and oranges.

    Yeah of course you can buy the Xbox 360 and two games. Now.
    But before when it launched you couldn’t. It was expensive.
    In the future you can buy the 3Ds for cheaper. But you have to wait. You always pay a premium when you buy at launch.

    Want it now pay more. All technology starts at the highest price and slowly falls as it becomes less in demand. The most basic business principle. Sell high and ride the wave before it crashes.

    And last time I checked you cant take the 360 everywhere you go and have a 3D effect that you can turn on and off.

  22. EdEN says:

    Nintendo has said they will sell 4 million units before the fiscal year is over. I believe this to be true.

  23. chris_wing says:

    @ John, all true valid points. How much did the DS Fat launch for? $149.99 us, what is the equivalent now? The DS Light at $129.99.

    The 3DS is launching at $300 if it’s not adjusted. That means if Nintendo follows the past formula in 2016 we will be paying $259.99 for the 3DSky

  24. Archaic says:

    Welcome to our world. In Australia, our prices for the original DS were about $300 plus initially, as I recall. People still bought it in droves. The $US exchange rate has gone down the toilet, to the point where the Australian dollar is almost at parity with the $US. You’ll be seeing a lot more of prices akin to what we’ve been paying for years. Get used to it. Nintendo can’t help it if your economy is tanking.

  25. chris_wing says:

    Very good point Archaic

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