Pricey Nintendo 3DS debuts next month
The highly anticipated system goes on sale March 27. Will its steep price be a turnoff?
This isn't just another Game Boy. The 3DS is generating lots of excitement because Nintendo says it will show 3D images without the need for 3D glasses. But you'd better start saving now, because that slick technology will come at a cost.
Nintendo will charge $250 for a 3DS. That's a lot of allowance money. But the company hopes the 3DS is broadly appealing enough that adults might use one instead of, or perhaps in addition to, smart phones that also have games on them.
Devices like the iPhone are certainly competing with Nintendo's current handheld, the DS. Sales of the DS dropped 23% in 2010, CNBC reports. And sales of Nintendo's groundbreaking Wii console fell 26% that year.
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Nintendo is expected to have at least 30 games for the 3DS within the first three months of launch, CNBC reports. That's a considerable selection for a device to have in its early days, and it shows how important the 3DS is to the company.
But there's a new reality setting in, and Nintendo may not like it. You can find all kinds of games for less than $5 at Apple's (AAPL) App Store and Google's (GOOG) Android Market.
Can the 3DS, even with its cool interface, compete with the 99-cent Angry Birds or the $3 Plants vs. Zombies? Adults may be just fine with their phones. And kids who crave a 3DS will have to get over that $250 hurdle. Then there's Nintendo's recent warning that children younger than 7 shouldn't play games in 3-D mode because of potential harm to eyesight development.
Things are now at the point where Nintendo's president is defending the 3DS even before release, saying it's not dangerous.
But Nintendo often suffers from prerelease negativity and then blows away expectations. I remember when people would snicker at the very idea of the Wii before it launched. The name was silly, and Nintendo's strategy of targeting nongamers wouldn't work, they said. The Wii's blowout success was a huge surprise.
The company is making a big bet that the 3DS will succeed as well.
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