A lot of news regarding the 3DS came out of Nintendo’s press conference Wednesday morning, including the unit’s official U.S. price point of $249.99 and March 27, 2011, U.S. release date. Though $249.99 is a decent chunk of change, it is still less than the $300 price many predicted after the Japanese price point was set at 25,000 Yen. Pricing has always been something Nintendo considers carefully and uses to its advantage, as when they launched the Wii at a family-friendly price in the face of then high Xbox 360 and PS3 price points.
Currently, however, the United States economy is not necessarily firing on all cylinders, Xbox 360 and PS3 prices have come down, and Apple has changed the landscape in mobile gaming with its iOS devices.
Ultimately the decision is Nintendo’s to make, and they feel like $249.99 is the right call. Who knows the specific factors that led them to that conclusion? Maybe it was done so that the console can launch in March and then get a price drop come the holidays.
Regardless of their reasoning, check out the both sides of the argument below and then be sure to let us know what you think in the comments.
Three Reasons Why the 3DS Price is Too High
#3. 3DS will be the second most expensive console available.
At $249.99, the Nintendo 3DS will be the second most expensive console available. Only the PS3 will cost more, coming in at $299.99. Gamers can pick up the 4GB Xbox 360 console or a Wii for only $199.99.
While the PS3 and Xbox 360 are not portable, both pack more powerful graphics, provide more on-board memory, and have access to non-gaming related apps like Netflix. The PS3 can even do 3D and is a Blu-Ray player. The Xbox 360 brings a lot to the table for less money, and the additional features found in the PS3 make it easy to overlook the $50 difference.
In the portable-gaming space, gamers can get a DSi for $149.99 or PSP for $169.99. Sure, the DSi might be Nintendo’s older handheld after the 3DS launches, and the PSP2 should be coming soon, but both older consoles should still be available come March, and with much larger game libraries, too.
#2. Apple’s iPod Touch is cheaper, and so are its games.
Sticking to the portable-gaming space, Apple’s iPod Touch remains a force to be reckoned with and Apple knows this, introducing aspects like GameCenter and featuring games during its advertisements. Starting at just $229 the iPod Touch is not only cheaper than the 3DS, it also is capable of performing a lot more useful tasks than just mobile gaming.
Not only that, but the games available through the App Store are becoming more and more impressive, while costing very little. Many great games are free or only $0.99. Sure, the iPod Touch may not do 3D, but it does do internet, email, FaceTime, has full access to the App Store, oh, and is a fully featured video-playing iPod too. That is a pretty handy device.
#1. $249.99, in this economy?
Simply put, $249.99 is a lot of money, especially in this economy. While the marketplace is better today than it might have been a year or 6 months ago, this isn’t the late 90’s or early 2000’s. Unemployment is still high, home prices are still down, and people are still watching how they spend their money.
Hardware and software sales were down in 2010. Yes, analysts expect 2011 to be better and the 3DS might play a role in that, but the fact that software sales were down in 2010, even though the console-install numbers only climbed and a lot of great games were released, implies people were not spending on games like they had before.
While 3D might be cool, is it cool enough to justify spending $249.99 on a new system? After all, $249.99 can buy a lot of PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, DS, and iOS games.
Three Reasons Why the 3DS Price is Just Right
#3. 3DS is portable and gives gamers everything they need right out of the box.
Sure, the PS3 is barely more expensive and the 4GB Xbox 360 is cheaper, but both are also bigger and not portable. Smaller electronics cost more money. This is a concept people have known and accepted for years. Want a computer? A similarly equipped desktop will cost less than its laptop counterpart. Fitting technology into small spaces costs money.
The 3DS also gives gamers everything they need to start gaming right out of the box, notably a screen. Anyone that wants to play games on their PS3 or Xbox 360 will need a TV or monitor. Sure, most gamers already have a TV or monitor they can use but the fact that the 3DS gives gamers everything they need out of the box should not be overlooked.
Not only that, one of the screens provides glasses-free 3D gaming. Go ahead and try adding up the costs required for 3D gaming on the PS3…it gets really expensive real quick.
#2. 3DS is everything the DSi is and so much more.
It is true that the 3DS is more expensive than the DSi, but it is also true that the 3DS really does everything the DSi does and more. If gamers consider all the extra features the 3DS brings to the table, the price increase becomes pretty easy to swallow.
The DSi is based on some pretty old tech, so it is easy for Nintendo to bring the console to the masses at a lower price point. After all, the DSi is more or less running much of same technology found in the original DS that launched in 2004. And even then the DS was not exactly packing the most impressive tech.
Dual screens, touch screen, camera, WiFi, app store access, the 3DS has all that. It also has an analog stick, and a glasses-free 3D screen, a pretty big first. The 3DS also packs impressive graphic technology. Just one look at the Metal Gear, Resident Evil, or Super Street Fighter 4 trailers running on the 3DS and the difference becomes very clear.
#1. The 3DS is Nintendo’s new handheld… enough said!
This is Nintendo. This is Nintendo’s new handheld. Sure, Nintendo did release the Virtual Boy, and the GameCube did not exactly do well on the home-console front. But Nintendo also released the Game Boy, GBA, DS, and Wii, all of which went absolutely gangbusters at retail.
People were initially quick to write off the original DS as a gimmick and argued that it would not compete next to the PSP. People also were quick to bash the Wii and its waggle controls and non-HD graphics, but consumers did not seem to mind.
Apple has taken a bite out of the handheld market with its iOS devices, but if you want Mario, Zelda, Kid Icarus, or any other Nintendo franchise, the 3DS is where it will be. Those games alone are typically worth the price of admission for the console.
This time around, Nintendo also seems to have some solid third-party support. Simply put, 3D is hot and Nintendo has been on fire recently. The two should work well together, even at $249.99
What’s Your Take?
There is no doubt that the 3DS is an innovative and impressive piece of hardware. Glasses-free 3d was something akin to a dream before Nintendo starting showing off the 3DS. Nintendo not only brought the technology to the public’s attention, they also demonstrated that it worked. The 3DS is cool and impressive. The question remains, however, whether it is worth the price. Ultimately, that is a decision each gamer has to make for his or herself, despite the arguments presented on both sides. At least March is a little bit away, giving gamers time to make their decision and save up some money.
What are your thoughts on the 3DS price point? Do you agree that the price is too high or do you think it is priced just right? Would you be willing to pay more than $249.99 for a 3DS at launch? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
The Nintendo 3DS launches in the U.S. March 27, 2011, for $249.99.