The Nintendo 3DS has launched in the UK today and in North America, it will be available this Sunday. The two major sticking points of controversy surrounding the release of Nintendo's latest tech surround the pricing of the 3DS and its rather weak (and also expensive) launch line-up of games.
On top of that, some of the system's features won't be available until May (the eShop, for instance). So the question we pose is, how much is too much for the price of the 3DS?
We've been playing the 3DS and some of the launch titles for a little while now and had some opportunities to play it very early at E3 last summer and more recently, at some Nintendo events. We know what the tech can do and what to expect from the current crop of 3DS games. You'll have to wait until Sunday and next week for our reviews, so for now, let's look at the pricing of the unit.
There are deals popping up everywhere, ranging from GameStop to Amazon allowing you to earn credit for trading in older DS units to use towards your purchase of the Nintendo 3DS. Your standard retail prices however, are as follows:
- North America: $249.99
- UK: £230
HMV first revealed the controversial launch price of £230 and as early as January, Amazon UK attempted to undercut by almost £30. Some of the launch day deals saw the price falling as low as £170, which is still significantly higher than the U.S./Canada price.
With a wide and confusing range for the prices, let's now look at the cost of making the device.
According to UBM TechInsights (via Eurogamer), the cost of the system's raw materials is approximately $101 per console (around £61.76). The materials cost is roughly only $15 more than that of the DSi. Knowing that, you can see why there's angst towards the high asking price. This does not however, take into account R&D costs, packaging, marketing, etc.
For me, it's not so much the cost of the console as it is the games you need to buy to play on it. Even with a limited library of launch titles, the quality of said games is what many will take issue with. Most of the titles are retailing at $39.99, and if you've see videos or have been lucky enough to get hands-on with games like Pilot Wings or Steel Diver, then you know that this may not exactly be a warranted price tag for all of the available games.
You're paying a premium to get on the tech train early, for mobility and for the added 3D feature. This however, does not mean the depth or quality of gameplay is there. With Nintendo adamantly avoiding getting into competition with Apple's App store or trying to price match against free or $1 downloadble games, they're able to keep their retails super high to protect their developers, avoiding what CEO Satoru Iwata and Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime describe as "garage developers."
Tough words considering there are $5-$15 games for the iOS and Android that have better graphics and lengthier gameplay than some of the Nintendo 3DS launch titles...
It's a business and if there's demand for it, you can't blame them. Nintendo holds a strong position in the handheld market for a reason and they're offering a quality product to would-be users. Look at the price of Apple's products and how an incremental upgrade warrants potential consumers paying over $500 for the iPad 2. Brand and quality add a lot to "value." It's up to you to determine your willingness to pay. You just may want to try out the games first.
Stay tuned for our upcoming Nintendo 3DS review!