Nintendo apologizes to early adopters for 3DS price cut

Company's CEO says Nintendo was forced to drop the price of the 3DS in order to help the platform "gain popularity."

Don Reisinger
Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
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Nintendo 3DS
Nintendo 3DS Nintendo

Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata has apologized to early adopters of his company's 3DS portable game player for dropping its price so soon after launch.

"In the past, there have been price drops for video game systems some time after their release in order to broaden the user base further," Iwata wrote in a letter posted to his company's Web site and translated by game-enthusiast site Giant Bomb. "However, never before has Nintendo chosen to issue such a dramatic price drop less than 6 months after a system release."

According to Iwata (Google Translate page), the price drop was due to the company's desire to reassure "software creators and those on the retail side that are not confident that the Nintendo 3DS is a worthy successor to the DS and will achieve a similarly broad user base."

Last week, Nintendo announced that it would drop the price of its 3DS worldwide. In the U.S., consumers will find the portable, which allows users to play games in 3D without the need for special glasses, selling for $169.99 starting August 12. That's one-third off its launch price of $249.99.

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By dropping the 3DS price right now, Nintendo risks upsetting early adopters who bought the portable at its higher price. Iwata's letter acknowledges that.

"We are all too keenly aware that those of you who supported us by purchasing the 3DS in the beginning may feel betrayed and criticize this decision," he wrote.

"Those customers who purchased the 3DS at the very beginning are extremely important to us," he continued. "We know that there is nothing we can do to completely make up for the feeling that you are being punished for buying the system early."

But Nintendo is going to try. The company has said people who have purchased a 3DS prior to the price drop and log on to the 3DS eShop before August 12 will receive 20 free games as part of its Ambassador Program. According to the company, 10 of the titles will come from its library of Virtual Console NES games, including Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda. The other 10 games will be Virtual Console Game Boy Advance titles, including Super Mario Advance 3 and Wario.

Offering freebies to customers following a quick price drop is by no means unprecedented, and in the past, has worked quite well for companies. One of the most notable examples was Apple's decision in 2007 to offer early adopters a $100 store credit after the company dropped the price of its original iPhone $200 just a couple months after it launched.

For Nintendo, there is a lot riding on the 3DS price drop, considering the portable's less-than-stellar sales record. During the company's first fiscal quarter that ended June 30, Nintendo sold just 710,000 3DS units worldwide. In the U.S., the company sold only 110,000 3DS units during the period.