The 3DS Price Cut: Will You Buy Me Now?
Nintendo’s 3DS is a peculiar machine, and I’m not talking about its ability to render games in 3D without the use of special stupid-looking glasses (which is fantastic, by the way). No, the strange thing about this remarkable little handheld is that it’s been on the market for about four months and yet you never hear anyone from Nintendo talking about it.
With the original DS and the Wii, Nintendo had two juggernauts that no one would shut up about. Everyone from the company’s president in Japan all the way down to the guy who refills the copy machine toner would make regular weekly appearances in the gaming media to remind you how awesome and rich they were because, hey, we all wanted to throw our money at them so hard that they just couldn’t seem to keep these things on the shelves.
Not so with the 3DS. Every now and then the head of Nintendo of America Reggie Fils-Aime will pop up and apologize for something (sorry the 3D gives you headaches / sorry the Virtual Console isn’t live / sorry there are no games), but that’s about it.
"Sorry I'm about to get my face clawed off."
Yesterday came the biggest apology yet in the form of an $80 price drop, taking the cost of the 3DS from $250 to $170 effective sometime in August. This is either an act of desperation to boost flagging sales or a shrewd business move to increase market share before Sony launches their new handheld, the Vita. Whatever the case may be it still begs the question, is this enough to convince you to pick up the system?
For me, the question of buying a 3DS has felt like more of a “when” than an “if”. I’ve always been tempted to get it on some level but the price they were asking was a huge deterrent, especially considering that a bare bones Xbox 360 could be had for less money. A 32% discount (math teacher!) certainly makes it much more tempting, but not in an “I’m saving the date of the price drop in my calendar” kind of way.
$170 is probably what the system should have launched at to begin with, so in my mind the 3DS went from an absurdly expensive gift to myself to a modestly expensive gift to myself. But now that Nintendo has knocked down this one particular road block there are still a couple that remain.
There are still no 3DS games I absolutely need to own right now. This is a tremendous problem for Nintendo, and it’s probably the one reason (aside from price) why most people haven’t taken the plunge yet. The launch lineup was pretty thin with only one or two standouts, and it didn’t get much better in the months after that. Yes, the Game Boy Virtual Console is live, and yes, there are quite a few flagship Nintendo games on the horizon, and yes, the Ocarina of Time remake is out. These are all great things, no doubt about it.
However, I already own all the Game Boy games I could ever want with a working Game Boy Color to play them on (I take care of my shit). Therefore, the Virtual Console is a moot point. Same thing goes for the inevitable Game Boy Advance Virtual Console.
Next, while there are undoubtedly great games coming in the future, I would want to play great games immediately on Day 1 of taking the 3DS home in order to validate the purchase of said 3DS. There’s nothing worse than sitting on your brand new video game console waiting for something to play (oh Gamecube, we had some good times). Therefore, future games are collectively a moot point.
Lastly, and please don’t get your hook shots in a bunch, Zelda games have never appealed to me. I’ve tried to like them! I really have! I’ve played Link to the Past, Wind Waker, even Ocarina itself, and I just could not get into any of them. So… yeah. Moot point.
It's not you. It's me. Please, don't look at me that way.
The other major thing keeping my $170 firmly in my wallet for the time being is the fact that, deep down, I know Nintendo is working on a hardware revision for the 3DS even as I’m typing this. I know this because I bought the original, bulky, ugly DS, and not one year later they released the smaller, sleeker DS Lite, which had everything from higher resolution screens to adjustable brightness controls. Fool me once, Nintendo, shame on you. I don’t plan on getting fooled again.
What could a revised 3DS look like? Could it have bigger screens? Longer battery life? Will it file your taxes, make you breakfast, and fix that “performance issue” you’ve been having? Who knows! That’s why I’m waiting. The 3DS is packed with cool features but I’m still waiting on the features it doesn’t have, because I know once they reveal what those features are I’m going to want them, and there’s no way I’m laying out the same money twice. Fool me twice, shame on me.
While the launch of the 3DS arguably could have gone better, Nintendo has taken great strides in improving the appeal of the system in the four months since. Features that had been promised and omitted, such as the Internet Browser, Virtual Console, Netflix, and 3D Video functions, are up and operational.
Now the price has been drastically cut, and there’s the promise of great games to come. The question remains though; is all of this enough to get you to buy a 3DS? For me, the answer is not just yet.
And no, I don’t have a “performance issue”. In case you were wondering.
Very special thanks to Peter John Santiago for lending his awesome artwork to this article.