Nintendo 3DS price drops but current owners get free games

“For anyone who was on the fence about buying a Ninetendo 3DS, this is a huge motivation to buy now,” said Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime. “We are giving shoppers every incentive to pick up a Ninetendo 3DS, from an amazing new price to a rapid-fire succession of great games.”

Which is better: getting a bargain price on a hot portable games system or getting hot new games based on some of the most beloved video game franchises for free?

New Low Price

Effective 12 August, 2011, Nintendo of America is dropping the retail price of the Nintendo 3DS™ system from the suggested launch price of $249.99 to $169.99 in the U.S. The lower price opens up the glasses-free 3D experience and one of the strongest game lineups of any video gaming system just in time for the holiday shopping season. In addition to great games, and a new great price, Nintendo 3DS has a host of attractive features including:

  • The new Nintendo Video™ service which automatically delivers short 3D videos from Hollywood as wells as music videos and animation.
  • The Nintendo eShop, a digital store for Nintendo 3DS owners that provides access to a wide variety of downloadable content, such as original 3D software, classic games remastered in 3D (3D Classics), Game Boy™ and Game Boy Color “Virtual Console” games in their original 2D glory and more than 350 Nintendo DSiWare™ games. Visitors to the Nintendo eShop can also view video game trailers, screen shots and product information for games, including those available at retail locations.
  • Speaking of viewing, a free application allows Netflix members with unlimited streaming plans to instantly watch TV episodes and movies streaming from Netflix.

Not a bad gift, right?

This is the first time in Nintendo’s history, according to Fortune’s Tech blog, that the company has cut the price of a newly launched product by 40 percent during the first 6 months.

Free Games

What if you’re among the more than 830,000 people in the U.S. alone who have already purchased a Nintendo 3DS since the system launched in March? Don’t despair! Nintendo recognizes that these early adopters of the Nintendo 3DS represent some of the company’s most loyal customers. Nintendo is rewarding current owners of the Nintendo 3DS system with 20 downloadable games from the Nintendo eShop for free.

If you already own a Nintendo 3DS system, all you have to do is connect, at least once, to the Nintendo eShop using a wireless broadband internet connection before 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on 11 August, 2011. When you do you will be automatically registered in the Nintendo 3DS Ambassador program.

There are two elements to the Nintendo 3DS Ambassador Program:

  1. Beginning 1 September, 2011, Nintendo 3DS Ambassadors will be able to Download 10 NES™ Virtual Console™ games at no charge. Better yet, Ambassadors will be able to download their games before the Nintendo eShop makes them available to the general public as paid downloadable games. Even once the paid versions of the games, which include such popular titles as The Legend of Zelda™, Super Mario Bros.™, Ice Climber™ and more will be available to Ambassadors for download at no cost.
  2. By the end of 2011, Nintendo will provide Ambassadors with 10 Game Boy Advance Virtual Console games including titles like Yoshi’s Island™, Metroid™ Fusion, WarioWare™ , Super Mario™ Advance 3, Mario Kart™: Super Circuit, Inc.: Mega Microgame$ and Mario vs. Donkey Kong™. These games will be available exclusively to Ambassadors. Nintendo has no plans, at this time to make these 10 games available to the general public on the Nintendo 3Ds in the future.
Nintendo 3DS
Nintendo 3DS (image courtesy of Business Wire)

Some business analysts see the price cut and free game offer as a sign that Nintendo, whose Game Boy portable player and Wii console system have long dominated the market, as a sign of desperation resulting from the growing popularity of gaming on smartphones and tablets. The offers have led Nintendo to lower their annual profit forecast to 20 billion yen, a level last seen by the company in 1986, according to the San Francisco Chronicle and Bloomberg.

As challenging as the immediate future may look for Nintendo, gamers who don’t already own a Nintendo 3DS  face an even tougher challenge: deciding which is better: free games or a lower price. You have until 11 August, 2011 to decide.