The Nintendo Wii is dead and has been for a while. This is why its successor, the Wii U, was quasi-unveiled at E3 last month. We still don’t have the final specs on the actual console that will come with the tablet-based Wii U controller, but the rumors are that it’ll not include a Blu-ray drive or a harddrive in order to keep costs down, while also utilizing the standard Wiimotes to access the built-in Wii audience.

So while Nintendo’s next home console is still a question mark, their latest handheld device, the 3DS, hit store shelves back in March, so we know all about it. We know it’s had very few quality games, that it’s 3D gimmick is hit or miss and not necessary to enjoy its games. We also know that it’s very expensive and many of its big titles are re-releases and remakes of older games (see: Ocarina of Time). So, does it really surprise you that Nintendo’s profits are falling?

Major news broke this morning alongside Nintendo’s first quarter financial results. The short of it is that profits for the quarter were half of what they were compared to the same time period last year and their adjusted year-end profit estimate is now 82% less than initially forecast.

Nintendo refers to a lack of “hit” titles and new releases more than once in the financial statements and since the 3DS isn’t performing where it should be, they announced the shockingly significant and quick price drop of the handheld. As of next month, the Nintendo 3DS will see an $80 price drop to $169.99 a mere few months after the platform released. Desperate times call of desperate measures.

With the more powerful PS Vita debuting this fall, some sort of price drop was expected later in the year, but not like this and certainly not this soon.

Looking at the bigger picture however, Nintendo is rightfully fearful of how these actions will affect consumer trust in their brand and products. Will early adopters and loyal Nintendo enthusiasts now think twice before jumping on Nintendo’s new hardware releases? Why not wait half a year to save 30% on the price, get all the features and a larger library of games?

Gamers who already spent the big bucks on purchasing the 3DS early may feel ripped off but Nintendo is giving them 20 free (old) games, some of which will be exclusive to them as 3DS “Ambassadors” (early adopters). The following is taken from their message to the fans:

There have been times in the past when we, Nintendo, have marked down the trade prices for our video game machines a certain amount of time after launch to further accelerate adoption of the hardware, but never in Nintendo’s history have we dropped a system’s trade price so significantly less than 6 months after launch.

We are aware this may cause you, the loyal fans who supported Nintendo 3DS from the beginning, to lose trust in us, and this is not our intention in any way.

Nintendo is still making money and selling units, albeit at a significantly lower amount than expected. The danger for them is the perception and reputation they’re earning as of late.

What fans really need from Nintendo and their systems is more quality games, so that should be the focus, rather than feeding them re-re-re-releases. Our question to you is how does this make you feel about purchasing the Wii U?

Follow me on Twitter @rob_keyes.

Source: Nintendo UK, Nintendo Japan

tags: 3DS, Nintendo, Wii, Wii U