3DS: Pricing and reception

Who's cheapest, and what the critics think so far about Nintendo's "biggest ever" launch

Nintendo has long dominated the handheld console market worldwide. The ubiquitous DS has sold over 140 million units worldwide to date - and continues to shift units at an impressive rate. Needless to say, this makes the release of its successor big news for the industry.

Coming six years after the original DS, the 3DS launches in Europe tomorrow - with the North American release coming two days later - on two SKUs: Cosmos Black and Aqua Blue.

Its arrival has already been heralded as a huge success by retailers like Amazon, who say it is the most pre-ordered games console in history. The online retailer is offering the system for 187, saving customers 42.99 off the console's steep 229.99 asking price.

For some time the cheapest offer available, Amazon's pricing was only one stage in a tit-for-tat pricing war which has seen retailers cutting already slim margins ever further in the hope of customer engagement.

Perhaps the most immediately eye-catching deal is that of HMV. The entertainment retailer revealed that it's possible to get hold of the console in its stores for as little as 109.99. This low price point applies to 3DS pre-order customers who trade in a DSi XL model against the console. Otherwise, the console can be purchased from the website for 196.99.

The 3DS is also going for 196.99 on GAME's website. The specialist retailer has confirmed that any free stock on the High Street will be sold at 219.99, though stores are offering a saving of 15 on a select number of titles from the system's launch line-up, with shoppers able to pick up a game for 24.99 when purchased together with a 3DS.

However, by some way the lowest price for the 3DS is currently being touted by supermarket Tesco, which is going to be selling the console for as little as 175 when bought with any 3DS game. Without software the unit costs 197 - equivalent to the online only price of many other retailers.

The device itself has been receiving positive if not evangelical reviews, with many choosing to reserve conclusive judgement until more software becomes available.

Jeff Bakalar, editor of technology site CNET, was generally positive about the hardware, in particular praising the "dazzling" nature of the glasses-free 3D effect and the system's improved graphical power over its predecessor.

Bakalar was, however, disappointed with the low-resolution of the console's two cameras coupled with its short battery life, and was critical of its price point writing that it "may not provide enough value and functionality for those looking for an all-in-one device."

Software support concerns were expressed by Oli Welsh of Eurogamer who said that "much excitement at the first demonstrations of its remarkable screen," had been tempered by "a seemingly lacklustre line-up of launch software and steep pricing".

Unusually for a Nintendo hardware launch, it's a third party title, Capcom's Super Street Fight IV: 3D Edition, that is considered to be the best of the software available on day one - with the fighting game currently boasting a Metacritic score of 84.

Nintendo's cheerful flight simulation effort Pilotwings: Resort has been less well received with a Metacritic rating of 73, though Eurogamer afforded it 8/10 - the same score as Street Fighter.

Animal training simulator Nintendogs + Cats - a huge franchise for the company on handheld - has also been met with lukewarm reviews, with GamesTM delivering a meagre 6/10 verdict and saying that "the cruel under-utilisation of the cats could genuinely disappoint fans of felines everywhere."

Fans of Nintendo's biggest IP - the Mario and The Legend of Zelda series - will be left waiting a little longer with both series notably absent from the console launch.

Most troubling for Nintendo - so long an industry innovator - will be the repeated assessment that the company has failed to adapt to the recent growth of the smartphone market, with Welsh summing it up best: "As a contemporary gaming platform, with its modest power boost and improved usability, 3DS does just enough to keep up - but only just. Next to the latest iPod Touch, say, or Sony's Next Generation Portable, it does look like yesterday's vision of the future."

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Latest comments (12)

PATRICK CHUDE Studying MSc. Information Systems, University of Surrey6 years ago
It might be yesterday's vision of the future but if you look at what has been successful, it makes sense. Example:
The xbox360, DS and Wii -- these consoles have all been successful.

Now look at the PS3, you could argue that it was an incredible step for this generation of consoles but, it has cost Sony a few points in doing that.
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Private Industry 6 years ago
Many people will buy it that`s for sure. I wouldn`t expect it to sell 140 million tough, for me it doesn`t feel like a real and full successor of the DS but more like another upgraded version of the DS. While graphics are not everything and the Wii has shown you can sell a lot while looking a lot worse than all your competitors it`s hard to imagine the 3DS having a long lifespan. The Wii had the advantage of the casual gamers that got on the console in a huge amount, but there was no competition there. MS and Sony where all for the core market. On the mobile front that looks a bit different, there is big amount of competition for the casual market, and thats where I think those comments about the cheap apps stem from. Because that market is targeting the same audience as Nintendo does since the Wii came out.

For me as a core gamer the 3DS is too expensive with a gimmick that I don`t use because it gives me a big headache. I still play PS1 and PS2 games, but if I buy something new I expect it to be up to date to the current level of technology. The first DS was that, but I can`t say that for the 3DS. Like the Wii the hardware feels completely outdated especially for the price they want and just for a small amount of games it`s for me not worth it. If that outdated hardware can survive against the competition in the long run needs to be seen, but I would bet my money that they will not replicate the success they had with the DS with this device because they don`t adapt appropriately to the changing market.
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The NGP has a lot of appeal in contrast
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Show all comments (12)
Private Industry 6 years ago
Hope we find that out at the E3, still many questions. Especially on the software lineup front what to expect in the first 6 or so month.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.6 years ago
"...but if I buy something new I expect it to be up to date to the current level of technology. The first DS was that, but I can`t say that for the 3DS. "

Are you serious? The original DS was considered up to date technologically when it launched? You'd be the only person I know to ever claim that. Did not the PSP trounce it in the technology department? Even the Tapwave Zodiac and Nokia nGage had it beat.
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Private Industry 6 years ago
Graphically speaking there where not necessarily worlds apart between the DS and the PSP when they launched. I got a launch DS when it came out here in Europe and got an imported PSP from Japan and there where graphical differences but it wasn`t extremely huge as you see it now or between the God of War PSP games and the DS games. Like with all Sony gaming devices there a huge improvement over time for the games compared to the launch line up. Technology doesn`t stop at the GPU and CPU, the touchscreen at that time was more or less only used on PDA`s as smartphones where not that popular at that time and the two screen system was something new. Didn`t had a Zodiac but a nGage and as far as I remember the hardware wasn`t better and I don`t even want to talk about how uncomfortable the controls where or how stupid I looked with it when making a phone call. Not saying the DS had the best possible hardware, but it didn`t feel outdated like the 3DS does now. Hardware wise it was still a decent system compared to the competition and had several things for it going, the poor original design wasn`t one of the things it had going for itself.

So yeah I would say on several levels it was up to date and with up to date to the current level of technology I don`t mean necessarily only the best possible CPU and GPU, but that the full package is somehow at decent technology level. There is a difference between up to date and hi tech. Unreal Engine 3 from BioShock is up to date CryEngine 3 and Killzone 3 engine are hi tech. BioShock can`t beat those two, but it still looks ok and not like last gen next to them.
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Patrick Frost QA Project Monitor 6 years ago
Werner have you spent any real time with one yet? Do this and it might change your mind. There are a lot of features in it from the get go that just give it a different feel to anything else. Particularly AR games and lots of the social involvement surrounding spot pass and the Mii system now.
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Private Industry 6 years ago
I spent a good amount of time with it. I'm not into AR and its nothing new either. The street pass isnt anything for me either I want to play my games, not the games play themself. I was still on the fence last week to maybe get one or not. At the end I will at least wait for a price reduction until its sub 200 euro.
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Patrick Frost QA Project Monitor 6 years ago
Well each to their own. AR definitely isn't new but I haven't seen it done in such a playful and accessible way.

But as you say, if it is games and only games that you are after then this system probably isn't for you. I find that it does a classic Nintendo and blurs the line between toy and game, just focusing on fun. If you're not bothered about "play" then I can see how many people would see it as being too toy like.
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Private Industry 6 years ago
I don`t see it as toy and I want my devices to do more than playing games, just for me it`s not worth the current price especially when the games here cost the same as home console games. I`m not willing to spend the same amount for a 3DS game as for Crysis 2 or other big titles because they are cheaper to make. I knew that the games would be sold at a higher price than the DS games, but I was negatively surprised today when I went into the store and had a look around.
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Chris Green Staff Writer, GamerDork Ltd6 years ago
The 3DS shows us a break from Nintendo's usual hardware conservatism making launch is really significant if nothing else. As a 3D sceptic it had everything to prove before I would say anything positive about it. On spending a couple of hours with different titles and the hardware itself I could see that the potential which oozes from it, it's just a shame there isn't much to really demonstrate why 3D is good for gaming beyond a "gimmick".

By distancing themselves from mobile gaming Nintendo are hoping their market doesn't overlap to heavily with Apple's and so long as an iOS device doesn't have 3D they're (relatively) safe (for now).
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Nick Burcombe CEO & Co Founder, Playrise Digital Ltd.6 years ago
So far, (regarding the two launch titles I've played) 3D has brought nothing to the party. It makes you go wow for about 10 minutes and then you're left with an over-whelming sense of deja vu. I quite enjoyed pilot wings - but in 2D it was just as good. And SFIV whilst looking great, was really just SFIV....again. So from an experience point of view I'm disappointed with the 3DS. The kids took a brief look at it and put it back in it's box. With it's high price and the every growing competition from iOS devices and (soon) the plethora of Android 3.0 tablets....I can't see this being anywhere near as successful as the DS. It just doens't do enough different or better.
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