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Iwata: 3DS Price Due To Positive Response Following E3
Iwata: 3DS Price Due To Positive Response Following E3
October 11, 2010 | By Simon Parkin

October 11, 2010 | By Simon Parkin
More: Console/PC

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has defended the cost of the company's forthcoming 3DS handheld to investors, stating that the Japanese launch price was arrived at following a positive response from consumers at this year's E3 conference, where the system was unveiled.

Late last month Nintendo announced that its new handheld will release in Japan on February 26, 2011 for 25,000 ($299), and will debut in the U.S. in March, at an as yet unknown price. There has since been widespread debate over the launch price of the handheld system; coupled with Nintendo's decision to launch in February instead of at holiday -- thus reducing its fiscal year forecast -- the publisher's stock fell 10 percent after it made the announcement.

Nintendo investors also recently expressed concern to Iwata that the system will cost more than the company's flagship home console, the Wii.

Iwata's response, published in full on Nintendo's Japanese website, sought to allay these concerns by claiming the price is justified as the 3DS doesn't require an external screen to play.

"Portable video game machines integrate both a gaming device and a screen. You do not need any other hardware devices to be connected in order for you to play with it," he said.

"We do not think, 'the price relationship between portable devices and home consoles must stay intact simply because it used to be that way.'"

He continued: "While it is always better for the price to be as accessible as possible, in terms of its cost, and in order to make a healthy and sustainable business for both the hardware and the software, and given the positive reactions since E3, which give us the indication on how the public are likely to appreciate the value of Nintendo 3DS if they can have hands-on experiences and, above all, by taking other factors into careful consideration, we have concluded that we should propose this price point to our consumers."

Last week Iwata stated that the price of 3DS software will likely be close to that of current Nintendo DS titles, saying: "We don't believe that the world is in a state where high priced software will sell well."

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Jamie Mann
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Hmm. Iwata's comments imply very bullish expectations for the 3DS - perhaps not too surprising, given that they're still doing damage control following the delay to February/March, but still...

Using E3 feedback as a factor in setting the 3DS's price seems a bit... optimistic. Pardon me for being a bit cynical, but it doesn't really seem like the most representative sample of the general population - I'd guess that the vast majority of attendees are male, 25-35, relatively affluent (they're at E3!) and actively interested in gaming (they're at E3!). However, Nintendo's own DS-demographic chart shows that this only covers around 10% of their userbase.

And as for feedback since then: a new machine with full 3D-viewing capabilities?

It'll be interesting to see how this goes: they're launching a new, expensive device at the time of the year when both consumers and businesses alike are low on cash - the consumers will still be recovering from Christmas and winter bills, while businesses are at the end of their tax year and generally looking for ways to stretch out the last of their budget. Then too, there isn't any big consumer-driven holidays around that time - Christmas and Thanksgiving are both over half a year away. Nintendo's own charts show that demand across all hardware (inc. Sony and Microsoft) is pretty much flat between January - September - even the DSi only resulted in a brief uptick:

I'm sure it'll sell well initially - there's no shortage of people keen to experience the new Nintendo experience. However, it may well do so at the cost of damaging Nintendo's Christmas sales, and there's no guarantees that sales will be sustained past the initial surge...

Jonathan Gilmore
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They might sell out the initial production run at $250 or even $300, or even $400, but the E3 reaction is a terrible thing to base the intial price on. I agree entirely with Jamie, even if the 3DS ends up selling like gangbusters, it will have naught to do with Ninendo's decision making.

Jonathan Osment
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While at E3, I noticed the attraction and positive feedback towards the 3DS had more to do with the attendees wanting to see the technology more than actually a desire to pay any price for it. People always want to see new high profile hardware, especially if theres an industry first lure involved (3D, motion control..ect). Nintendo's previous success was also found in selling higher quantities rather than higher price as well as rocking their first party titles. This news comes across as being greedy and anti-consumer to me. In my opinion it is neither the best decision nor the best image to portray.

Alex K
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I'm not sure I understand. Is this article saying that if the response was bad, they may have released it at $150, but instead it was good so they jacked up the price to $300?

Michiel Hendriks
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It's more expensive than the Wii because you don't need to buy a monitor for it? Somehow that doesn't compute.

Daniel Boy
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Why so pessimistic?

They only have four million at launch. The demand will be high even at 25,000. They try to learn from the wii launch, do you remember? It was always supply constrained. They easily could have asked for $50 or $100 more and still got every console sold.

At a higher price point for the 3DS they will make more money in 2011 (compensating for the postponed launch), give the DS variants breathing room (a 3DS @$200 and nobody would buy a DSlite @$129) and have more room for a price drop in 2012 (or for the holidays 2011, if demand breaks away or the production capability increases dramatically).

Ian Uniacke
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Exactly. Everyone thinks the wii was successful because of it's low price point (well that was definitely one factor) but the grey market value of a wii was about 50% higher than the sale price for the first year or so. This could have been money that Nintendo received. It's simple supply and demand, Nintendo underestimated demand for the wii and payed the price. You can always go down on price but you can't go up.

Mike Reddy
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Apple has learned that planned obsolescence IS the way to keep control of the market. Make the device you replace your current hardware with one created by the same company: iPod -> iPod Classic -> iPod Touch.

If Ninty are planning to maintain/keep supporting SALES of the DS family, they are going to fail. If these sales keep up, then great, I guess, but they should be planning for DS to die on the vine, to feed upgraders to the new platform, which will give encouragement for developers to support it.

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on another note, and I'm not trying to spin here, but could this mean we see the Next Legend of Zelda finished and ready for a Christmas release? Would not it be better for Nintendo not to make its consumer choose between buying the flagship line ups or a high priced 3DS this year? Rather put the 3DS as a high price the beginning of the fiscal quarter and drop the price in 6 months in time for next years holiday season. Wouldn't that buy the developers time so they don't have to produce shovel ware (DS Launch) for the next few months, but actual decent titles that use the hardware to its fullest?

Adam Bishop
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When the iPhone launched it was what, $600? I know that they're not the same product, but if people were willing to pay $600 for a phone (which seems insane to me, that's about how much my PC cost to put together) then I really don't see it as being that unlikely that people would be willing to pay half that for a cutting edge portable gaming device. I'll be honest, if it comes out at $250 as speculation suggests, and if there are good games available at launch, I'll probably be picking one up. Nintendo will release at a high price to capitalise on initial interest from the core, then over time the price will fall until it hits a price that makes it more mass market.

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Too expensive. I liked it at E3, especially the Ico demo, but not for $300.

Kevin Patterson
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$299 is way too much for a gaming only hanheld. I will not be buying.

I'm sure the 3D effect is great, but the hardware power's estimates I seen so far, along with the price, makes this a wait item. I'm curious how the PSP2 will fare against it, and how it compares spec wise.

I wish apple would relase a control dock for gaming, the touch screen control method is annoying for most game types.

Ian Uniacke
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I realise that this might not affect you personally but I can already tell you how any other handheld will compare against the 3ds in the eyes of most consumers:

Console Marioitude

3ds 100%

iphone 0%

psp 0%

Leon T
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Many people paid $300 for a DS on Ebay and even $600 for Wii so I think Nintendo can sell 4 million in the first month. The DS is the top dedicated games device in the world and it is still selling pretty good.

People who want it will save up for it as they have plenty of time to do that. Plus the sells of the DSi LL ( many said that it as well as the DSi & lite wouldn't sell at the price it was set at too) shows Nintendo that people will pay a high price just for bigger screens so they will pay a higher price for a hardware upgrade.

Edit: Don't forget that people will just trade in their DS and some games to get the 3DS. With saving and trade ins most people that want it can buy it.

DanielThomas MacInnes
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I surely doubt the 3DS will launch in the USA for $300. We have to remember that a weak currency is the reason why 25,000 Yen translate to that amount. $250 will almost certainly be the retail price, with Nintendo aggressively pressuring their suppliers to lower costs as quickly as possible.

In the short run, I'm sure early adopters will pay whatever amount to have the latest and greatest gadget. Apple does it all the time, wink wink. And, as we all know, everything comes down to the games. If there is a spectacular killer app, then the 3DS will become Nintendo's next money-printing machine.

On that front, I would do two things: 1) Launch with a new 2D Super Mario game. 2) Pay Notch as much money as it takes to win exclusive rights to Minecraft. Oh, and put Minecraft on the Wii, too.

Amir Sharar
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It's an early adopter price and with that in mind it seems fair. It may very well hit $249 in a year's time, and at a mass market price of $199 a year after that.

Nintendo can increase the value of the product in the eyes of consumers by pushing the 3D photo taking capabilities, as well as the 3D photo viewing capabilities. To leverage this Nintendo has to create an easy to use photosharing service.

Another important aspect is the ability to play 3D movies, and along with photos that is something Nintendo has to sort out. If it has the ability to stream movies, download movies, play movies off of carts or SD memory, the device can be seen as the first 3D personal video player. That further increases the value of the unit in the eyes of potential customers.

If Nintendo can sort out this non-gaming related infrastructure then it would be easier to convince potential buyers to shell over $300. To me, a personal 3D video player that doesn't need glasses alone is worth quite a bit. In some respects, the $300 cost seems affordable compared to the high costs of 3DTVs along with their glasses ($250 CDN for a pair of glasses alone! You could nearly buy a 3DS with that amount.).

Mike Reddy
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Really REALLY stupid. Very VERY arrogant to admit it. $300 is too much and echoes old mistakes by Nintendo and Sony in the past. Unless, of course, it's all a sham and the device will suddenly be $250. Then they will lose face at having to discount prior to launch! So, this one decision could actually kill Nintendo's grip on handheld, leaving the way for MS and the WinPhone7 devices that are real, or the vapourware that is PSP2.