Nintendo joins the long list of Apple victims; slashes price on 3DS toy

“Stick a fork in the Nintendo 3DS, because it’s done,” Michael Comeau writes for Minyanville.

“In conjunction with an altogether dismal earnings report, Nintendo announced that it is significantly cutting the price of its latest portable gaming machine just four months after release,” Comeau reports. “On August 12, you’ll be able to pick up a 3DS here in America for $170, or $80 off the launch price. Nintendo also will give away 20 free games to early adopters who splurged for a 3DS at original cost.”

“The 3DS’s predecessor, the DS, was the best-selling handheld gaming device ever made, moving over 146 million units,” Comeau writes. “So what happened in just one generation that has Nintendo scrambling in a way it never has before? The answer that that question is right in your pocket. The flop of the 3DS stems from the emergence of smartphone mania, kicked off in 2007 by the first Apple iPhone.”

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Comeau writes, “It’s not like Nintendo’s going out of business. But remember where Nintendo was just three or four years ago. It was completely dominating the industry with the Wii and 3DS, and now it’s regularly reporting horrible quarters and cutting guidance. So we can now add Nintendo to Apple’s growing list of victims — Nokia, Research In Motion, pre-Android Motorola, Palm, and Cisco’s Flip-camera unit.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: That’s a short list. Depending on the market, you can add Sony, Microsoft, Acer, and many others to that list.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Ellis D.” for the heads up.]


      1. Ohhh, the list is so long! Nintendo would probably be in a dominant position in the App Store.

        But what a blow to the ego it would be… Nintendo submitting Apps for approval 😛

            1. You’re doing it wrong.


              With the latest equipment, and the right emulators, there is no lag for 8-16 bit systems.

              Don’t expect to play Mario 64, but NES, SNES, Genesis, etc… No problem.

  1. I actually think the 3DS looks like a good concept, although I suspect the reason it didn’t take off right away is twofold – the technology didn’t add enough value to take it above and beyond the DSLite and the DSi (I still have my DSLite so I can play GBA games), and they didn’t launch it with enough games to make it desirable enough. If they can make some good 3D games, then it’ll take off. (And of course, the price cut helps. 😉 )

    Now, the Wii U makes no sense to me…

  2. For once I really think the iPhone had very little to do with this price drop. Yes the iOS game market is huge, but only when it comes to lower priced games. The markets for iOS games and 3DS games are very different. The 3DS system is not selling because the 3D technology in it is not very good, there are few games for it and overall it is not an enjoyable experience, not to mention terrible battery life. Nintendo is reaping what it sewed, an unpolished and unfinished product.

    1. I disagree (and agree with the article, and the MDN). The iPhone (iOS) has everything to do with the price drop, albeit indirectly.

      Nintendo got drunk with the success of DS. The inertia of their thinking lead them to come out with 3DS, which is better, cooler and more fun than the original DS. Coupled with sudden resurgence (and stubborn persistence) of 3D in Hollywood (and in people’s living rooms, with 3D HDTVs, 3D Bluray players, even 3D content on cable networks), they were certain 3DS was on the fast track to replicate the success of the DS. They failed to understand that the success of DS was the casual mobile gaming, a massive market segment which was, by the end of 2009, taken over by the iOS platform. Regardless of what 3DS was hoping to offer, consumers understood it to be just another casual mobile gaming platform and, since they already had one in their pocket, passed on it, 3D and all.

      So, yes, I’m positive, iOS had everything to do with 3DS’s failure.

      1. I agree, and add that Nintendo hasn’t really introduced a new game or new characters for years. It has been subsisting off of old characters put together into baseball or soccer games, Smash Bros., etc. There really isn’t anything new for games.

        Meanwhile iOS has come up with original games, using accelerometers ant other innovations. Plus, games are much, much less than DS games.

        1. Totally correct, Bizlaw, and there’s even a reason for that. Nintendo 3DS (and Wii, XBox 360, PS3, PSP) all have closed development platforms, meaning you have to get approval from the manufacturers to even make games for them. iOS, on the other hand, is an open development platform, so you can develop games for iOS, and as long as they run well, Apple will approve them. Hence not only more games for iOS, but more variety of games, and more opportunity for innovation. XBox has XBox Live Arcade, which remedies this problem, but in general, it’s the closed platform that’s killing them.

      2. iOS had nothing to do with me not buying a 3DS. It was the PRICE. $250 for a handheld gaming device… ridiculous…and there are not that many titles out there yet.

        At the new price… I’m buying one and the games in the pipeline actually interest me.

        I think at the lower price and with new games coming it will prove to have legs in the long run.

    2. 1) the 3D technology is actually quite good. The key is to use the 3D adjustment slider to put the 3D at a level that’s comfortable for you to view – when I first got my 3DS I had to put it at 50%. Now that I’m used to the display I leave it at 100%.

      2) few games is the biggest issue, there’s still no “killer app”

      3) I’m enjoying mine. The analog stick is way better than on my PSP. The 3D camera is quite fun. Lots of people are sharing their 3DS photos here (you can see mine at )

      4) I haven’t had an issue with battery life. While I seldom play for over 1 hour in a sitting, my nephew played it just shy of 4 hours one night when they were visiting for spring break.

    3. Based on observations of my children (8 & 10 years old boys), I agree. We have iPods, an iPad, and Nintendo 3Ds at home. The iPods hardly get used. They enjoy using the iPad mostly for watching videos, but i have to limit their time on the 3DS or they will always be playing with them.

      That said, the 3DS is not all that much better than a regular DSi. They usually keep the 3D turned low or off and would be just as happy with a DSi. I feel the real reason Nintendo had to drop the price was because once the novelty of 3D wears off, you just realize that a 3DS is not that much better than a DSI and more expensive. I don’t think iOS has anything to do with it.

  3. “But remember where Nintendo was just three or four years ago. It was completely dominating the industry with the Wii and 3DS, and now it’s regularly reporting horrible quarters and cutting guidance.”

    That’s an inaccurate statement. Four years ago there was no 3DS.

    He means DS, which is actually only a minor mistake… If you’re not a journalist…

  4. Such bias in the article and the MDN take the 3DS has to compete with home systems and the upcoming was equally price PS Vita. Different markets. We have to acknowledge the simple fact that iOS games are temporary and plenty of them are POS. check your downloads I have over 200 apps and how many do I play? Angry Birds, Doodle Jump, real racing 2. If that was your library count on any portable system it would be shameful. I play all of my PSP games and DS games to completion. Who can say that about their iOS games. Let’s be honest fanboys. With an average price of top games being 2.99 or 4.99 then multiply that buy your library of games and who gets better bang for their buck. I would take metal gear solid peace walker or dragon quest 9 over any iOS game ever created. The finality of this argument is that iOS games are very casual and other portable titles like Zelda, Y’s, ratchet and clank and other hits like god of war on the PSP are worth way more than a .99 cents weekend sale. So respond to that argument. Nintendo is not a victim of Apple they are just lowering the price to get a larger base before the Vita comes out and get people who are on the fence off of it.

    1. So if I understand correctly, you are painting the picture that mobile gaming should not be quick and portable, but require deep immersion and hours of total gameplay as epitomised in a franchise like Zelda?

      I’m also confused why you assert that the portable, self-contained, battery-powered 3DS ‘has to compete with home systems’ which are anchored to the wall by a power cord and have no built-in displays to speak of.

      Would that be because it’s mimicking the last total disaster of a 3D portable unit from Nintendo: the Virtual Boy, and how you wouldn’t want to take it outside?

      I also am amazed that you didn’t actually click through to read the article. Apart from the little factoid that titles like Final Fantasy are available on the App Store, the writer states quite clearly what you seem to restate with anger: these are different. Casual is good because that’s what people want in a portable gaming system.

      You want to fling the big rocks in your glass house with Final Arguments? Let’s flip it around. What kind of productivity, entertainment, navigation, finance, business, education, medical, connectivity and utility software and services exist for any of Nintendo’s platforms?
      Hell, they can’t even figure out how to poop out a vaguely decent email client or web browser if I recall correctly from my stint with the Wii.
      And the PSP – wow. How’s about those UMDs huh? Watch out, iTunes…

      This is why MDN and the market at large correctly identifies these as toys.
      Nintendo are slashing the prices because that’s all they are worth to consumers as one-trick ponies in a post-iPhone world.

      “Now, software on mobile [devices] is like… it’s like baby software. It’s not so powerful… iPhone runs OS-X… desktop class applications and networking – not the crippled stuff.”

      1. Some of us actually do want immersive gaming on a mobile device. I’ve got a few quickie games on my iPhone. But where do I play my mobile RPGs that take dozens of hours each to complete? On my DS. It may be a one trick pony, but because it’s a one trick pony, it can devote all of its resources to the game, rather than having to multitask in case a phone call comes in, or a text, or other processes running in the background.

        1. “Some” being the operative word, which Nintendo is now feeling keenly. Supply and demand, my friend. Supply and demand.

          Also, what kind of reasoning is “devote all its resources”? That assumes that all devices are allocated some ISO Standard of Hardware Specs, and then it’s up to them from that point how they devote them – and that somehow the iPhone loses out because it’s squirrelled away some of those to checking email.

          Each is a custom designed solution in “an interplay of hardware and software”, so such a comparison is as worthless as concluding that the iPhone must be superior because it’s got four times the RAM and a 1GHz CPU.

          What the end user sees is more like “Hmm, would I rather juggle separate devices: gaming, music, phone, camera – or is a single jack-of-all trades an acceptable compromise?”
          For the answer to that question, ask Cisco with the Flip Video.
          Ask Kodak and Nokia with their myriad of identikit basic products
          Ask Apple with the iPod Classic
          And now ask Nintendo

  5. Nintendo did this to themselves. Instead of dropping the prices of previous generation hardware when new products were introduced, Nintendo simply priced the newer stuff at a higher price. When Apple comes out with new products, the price of previous generation hardware inevitably drops – not so with Nintendo!

  6. I disagree with this article. In my opinion, the reason that the Nintendo 3DS is not selling well is because of it’s weak gave variety. Games such as Nintendogs Cats and Asphalt 3D were not too good. The most demanded games for the 3DS which include Kid Icarus uprising, the mario titles and star fox 64 3D that were mentioned in E3 are just about to come out. So, it’s very likely that Nintendo will see a boost in 3DS sales once those titles are released.

    The mobile devices have pretty good games. However they don’t compare to the type of games you see on an actual hand held or home console.

  7. What does the iPhone have to do with the sudden drop in the retail price of the 3DS?

    The real problem that Nintendo is undergoing is that the 3DS has a surprisingly high price, yet such little variety in software. People who already own a DS/DSi are not encouraged enough to buy the new system. If you look at how much excitement over the highlighted games on E3 was prevent, and then go to a game store and count how many of those titles that people were eager about are actually on the shelves, you will see why the 3DS is not getting as much attention as it should. When those games come out, you will see exactly how much effect the iPhone has on the 3DS.

    In my opinion as a former hard core gamer, I you asked me to choose between the 3DS and iPhone Which is better for gaming, I’ll go for the 3DS. Games on iPhone are reallyvshallow.

    Besides, the iPhone is meant to be a cell phone. Just because it can play a game or two similar to that of a game console does not necessarilly mean it’s concidered as one.

    1. That’s funny: you said it yourself. High cost, low variety library.
      Sharply contrasted with iOS’ low cost, high variety library.

      In my opinion as a former Nintendo fanboy (remember the Nintendo vs Sega wars? Yeah I was there!), console games as a whole and Nintendo in particular stopped being a worthwhile choice somewhere towards the end of the N64 era. This is anecdotally corroborated in the fact that all Nintendo appear to be capable of doing these days is re-releasing all their good games i.e. those which are at least around ten years old like StarFox64, Yoshi’s Island, Donkey Kong. Nintendo’s problem with yawn-inducing offerings is hardly limited to their latest face plant. What about the pathetic revisions to the original DS? What about the fact that they consciously walked away from the ‘hard core gamer’ crowd with the Wii?
      Like the PC propeller heads mouthing off at the iPad, the hard core gamer crowd is a dwindling minority which is going to garner less and less attention from content producers for want of simple economies of scale.

      1. iOS may have more games than 3DS for lower prices but they are limited. You don’t have a lot of content.

        For the revisions, I would say nintendo was trying to improve the original bit by bit. They first tried making it slimmer, then added a camera. Though I will agree that the DSi XL was a waste of time. Then when they leaned enough from it all, they made the 3DS. A system that includes a whole lot such as a gyroscope, 3D display, cameras, and more. All on a relatively small piece of hardware. Don’t think that nintendo is the only one taking this approach because apple has sort of done this as well. Compare the iPhone 3G and the 3GS. There were little differences. The biggest one being the addition of voice control. But seriously, is that really a necessity? It is a tad bit faster but same concept as the nintendo ds line.

        For the titles, nintendo probobly did not introduce new characters and franchises because thereis a risk that the new one won’t hit. So to avoid that risk, nintendo decides to make different games with the existing franchises. For example, Mario originally started as an adventure game to save the princes. Nowadays, you have Mario kart, Mario party, smash bros, etc. All these games may have the same old characters but they are totally different games.

  8. instead of getting my kids a new nintendo ds or psp i purchased them a iPhone. iOs has more games and are on average a 1/5 of the cost. The portable gaming device has died in 2008 nintendo and sony just didn’t know it yet

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