The maker of the Nintendo DS—the best-selling handheld video game system of all-time—were surprised when they discovered that its new system was doing poorly. Even though it had 3D! The lack of solid games was the most oft cited reason, and the dominant position of the DS made it tough to get people excited about the new 3DS. It also didn’t help that several of the features Nintendo had been touting for the new hardware, including Netflix, the Nintendo e-Shop and a web browser, weren’t available yet and no firm date of release dates were given. As far as product launches go, it was made of fail.
And then there was the price. $249.99 is a fairly reasonable price for a device that can do everything the 3DS claims it can do, but if there are no good games and some of the best features weren’t even out yet, that price tag becomes a bit harder to swallow. It also probably didn’t help much that Sony sort of kicked sand in Nintendo’s face by introducing the ridiculously more powerful and wi-fi friendly PlayStation Vita at a $249.99 price ($299.99 with 3G).
Not surprisingly the handheld did not sell well, and only 830,000 people have purchased the 3DS since launch. That number is a wee bit disappointing when compared with the Nintendo DS, which sold 144.6 million units as of December 2010, and a wee bit short of its projected sales of 16 million units in the first year.
So in response, Nintendo decided to try to win back the public buzz by significantly lowering the price of the 3DS to $170 as of August 12. But what about all the poor suckers that bought their supposedly fantastic and game-changing device (no pun intended) before that?
Before 830,000 began to wonder if they had been had, Nintendo decided to do what it could to appease them. Last week, the publisher/manufacturer/developer announced that it would be giving its loyal fans 20 free downloadable games from the Nintendo NES and Game Boy Advance library. Ten of those games were already announced, including five NES titles The Legend of Zelda, Balloon Fight, Donkey Kong Jr., Ice Climber and Super Mario Bros., and five GBA games including Mario vs. Donkey Kong, Metroid Fusion, Mario Kart: Super Circuit, Yoshi’s Island: Super Mario Advance 3 and WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame.
Nintendo claimed that the rest would be announced in the coming weeks, and the company appears to be good for it as two more of the titles have been announced via the website GamesRadar: Kirby and the Amazing Mirror and the mouthful of a title Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario 3 (which is a remake of the classic NES game, Super Mario Bros. 3). More titles will be announced in the coming weeks.
The free downloadable games is a good move from Nintendo, who have to know that the launch of the 3DS was muffed. There are several big name titles due out later this year, but the people that shelled out $249.99 for an incomplete and somewhat rushed product were left with a red face and figurative cartoon-like steam coming from their ears when their product loyalty and excitement for the 3DS was rewarded by paying $80 more and receiving substantially less than people buying it just a few months later. It also most be on Nintendo’s mind that with the with the Wii U coming next year, the company cannot afford to risk alienating some of their most loyal fans.
The 10 downloadable games from the NES library will be available on September 1 for early 3DS owners, and the titles will all be available to purchase for everyone shortly after. The 10 GBA games will be available by the end of the year.