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Nintendo Admits Defeat, Lowers Nintendo 3DS Price to $169.99 as Apple Enthusiasts Proclaim Victory


Nintendo truly is its own worst enemy.

At around three in the morning, Nintendo (NTDOY) announced what may be the fastest price drop in video game history: starting August 12, the company will shed $80 off the MSRP of the embattled Nintendo 3DS, bringing the new price to a respectable $169.99.

This, mind you, is the price the system should have retailed for at launch. Whereas Sony (NYSE: SNE) and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) have continually whined about the amount of money they lose with every console they sell, Nintendo has always bragged about its ability to profit from the sale of new hardware. The company took its bragging rights one step too far when it announced that the Nintendo 3DS would be more expensive because of the anticipated demand.

To keep existing 3DS owners from giving Nintendo a Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX)-inspired thank-you, the company is offering 20 free games (10 NES and 10 Game Boy) to those who already purchased the device.

Thus far, consumers don't seem too upset. While most people are tweeting about the news in general (and in shock), only a handful are providing a degree of color on the matter.

“My first suggestion to Nintendo regarding dangerously poor 3DS sales would be to maybe actually make a game for it,” @Cabel tweeted earlier today.

“Nintendo is going to give me for free the only thing I was paying for on the 3DS?” @Scott_Bromley tweeted. “Um, okay. I guess that makes up for the sudden price drop.”

Early polls show that most Nintendo fans are content with the price drop – even if they already coughed up the full $250 to bring the 3DS home.

Regardless of how positive the response has been, there's no denying the fact that Nintendo has taken a questionable path in promoting and selling its latest handheld. The company launched the 3DS with a very low-key marketing campaign. It released the system without a single game people wanted to own. It also charged more for the system than any other Nintendo handheld. On top of that, Nintendo had the nerve to brag about the reason why the 3DS was so expensive.

And yet the company is somehow surprised that the system didn't fly off the shelves. Umm…why, exactly?

Let's not forget that this isn't the first time Nintendo pulled a stunt like this and expected to win big. Back in 1996, the Nintendo 64 launched with one great game. One.. It was enough to create long lines and the first game console shortage. But after Christmas, guess what happened?

Without any must-have games to buy for more than six months, PlayStation took over and Nintendo 64 became the most disappointing Nintendo system ever made.

And what did Nintendo 64 retail for at launch? The same price as the 3DS: $250.

For the next 10 years, Sony became the new console king. If it weren't for Game Boy and Pokémon, Nintendo wouldn't have continued to thrive during what can only be described as some of the darkest years in gaming. (Unless you owned a PSone and PS2 – then they were some of the best years in gaming.)

Having taken a different path with both the Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii (both of which were very, very successful), you would think that Nintendo had learned its lesson. Clearly it has not. Clearly success makes the company so confident that it feels it can release a piece of hardware without any desirable items attached.

And what is a piece of hardware, really? Is it simply an excuse to unveil a new coat of paint? Or is it an opportunity to entice consumers with awesome experiences they cannot find anywhere else?

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) enthusiast sites are attempting to put a spin on today's news by proclaiming that Apple's success is the cause of Nintendo's demise. But the reality is one that no one (not Nintendo fans, not Apple fans, and certainly not Nintendo executive) wants to hear: the company screwed up – BIG TIME. Consumers responded to that screw-up by not responding at all. All across the country, the midnight launches were dead. By the end of the first day, the 3DS could still be found at most retailers. By the end of the first month, it was still readily available. Even now, the handheld is easy to find.

“Oh, but that's because iOS is the future!” Apple fans will surely proclaim. But they're wrong. They cannot predict the future, nor can I. But I can take a look at the facts and make an educated guess based on the game industry's past events.

In looking at the past, we can conclude one thing about Nintendo: the company is most successful when it releases a ton of games people want to play. (This is true of every game console manufacturer.) We will never know what might have happened if the Nintendo 3DS had been released with a new Mario game, immediately followed by a new Zelda (not simply a port ), a new Pokémon, and a plethora of great games from third-party developers. We will never know how the eShop channel could have increased the 3DS' sales if it had been available at launch. We will never know how the system may have sold if it had received the same marketing budget as Nintendo Wii, the company's fastest-selling console. We will never know a lot of things because Nintendo screwed up.

But that won't stop Apple enthusiasts from telling us that iOS was the cause for today's price drop. In their minds, a smartphone and a few billion 99-cent apps are a major threat to Nintendo – not the company's own lack of quality releases.

Follow me @LouisBedigian


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