I read a few editorials online today, particularly this one that really got me thinking about the past. Did you know that every time Nintendo has lowered the price of one of their consoles within the first six months of its release it has been a commercial disappointment? Yeah I didn’t really realize that either. Take a look at the following examples.
Virtual Boy – Launched August 1995 at $180, reduced to $160 in October 1995
N64 – Launched September 1996 at $199, reduced to $149 in March 1997
GameCube – Launched November 2001 at $199. reduced to $149 in May 2002
Don’t get me wrong these were all excellent systems, yes even the Virtual Boy, but all of these platforms failed to meet Nintendo’s sales expectations for a variety of reasons. For their ‘successful’ systems Nintendo does whatever it can to keep the price constant. The Wii went two years without a price drop, and the DS had to wait a year and a half for its price to drop as a result of a remodel.
Now we have the 3DS, which launched March 2011 at $250, and is already having its price lowered to $170 in a few weeks from now. Does this mean it’s doomed? I seriously doubt it, but based on Nintendo’s history it is an item up for discussion. Personally I feel that this situation is different than the above, simply because we have yet to see any truly killer software released on the 3DS. The biggest game, and first million-seller I might add, is a remake to Ocarina of Time. It was released months after the system launched. That’s on top of promised features arriving late like the eShop.
I’m interested to hear what all of you have to say. The N64 and GameCube were home to some of the very best games of their respectful generations even though Nintendo was disappointed in their overall sales. We already know the 3DS will have some truly awe-inspiring games by the end of the year, but do you think sales will be able to turn around in such a way that the big N considers the system a winner?