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Nintendo: Price won't stop 3DS being "biggest launch" to date

UK general manager confident launch pre-orders will be met; 500,000 to sample system in UK tours

Nintendo has said that the high price of the 3DS handheld in the UK won't stop the system from being the company's biggest hardware launch to date.

Speaking at the 3DS conference in Europe today, Nintendo UK general manger David Yarnton told GamesIndustry.biz that there are no consumer electronics on the market that compare to the 3DS, and that quality of content will prove the asking price - which climbs £250 when the hardware is bought with one game.

"Indications that we've had so far from retail is that they are really happy with the price and demand indicates it will be our biggest launch in terms of hardware," said Yarnton.

"The DS for us was huge in 2005 and in 2006 the Wii was even bigger. Retailers - especially with the environment they are in - are right behind it. It's a new format. In the last ten years, the innovation that we've bought to the market, people may have looked at the price to begin with but it was soon forgotten because of the quality of the product and the content that's available."

Although Nintendo in North America set a RRP of $249 for the system, in the UK Nintendo has only committed to a trade price, leaving retailers to set their own price points around £219-£229.

"If you look at the value proposition, there's not a 3D entertainment device in the market at that price point. Not only a device that you can play games on but as a communication device, being able to download content with some of our partners like Eurosport and Sky," added Yarnton.

Earlier in the month Nintendo president Satoru Iwata said the company plans to ship 4 million units of the 3DS worldwide, with around 2.5 million earmarked for the US and Europe. Although Yarnton was unable to discuss final stock numbers for the UK, he did say that Nintendo should be able to honour all launch pre-orders.

"We're comfortable with the stock we've got and retailers are too. One of the things we're working with retail on, and is really important as far as we're concerned, is pre-orders with our customers so that we can make sure the stock is in the right places and we don't just go and give stock willy-nilly to the market.

"We need to make sure we can satisfy that consumer demand. So pre-orders are really important and that's how we're looking to allocate second chances of stock based on the retailer pre-orders. We're pretty confident we'll be able to guarantee whatever they pre-order," he said.

Addressing the marketing issues of selling a system where the 3D effects can only be appreciated with hands-on time rather than more traditional TV advertising, Yarnton said Nintendo would step-up sampling activities, and target up to 500,000 consumers from launch until the Easter sales period.

"We've had huge sampling experiences on Wii and DS in the past and we properly started that whole touring the product, we've been doing that for years. With 3DS it's going to be the biggest sampling campaign that we've ever done.

"We're looking at between 4-500,000 consumer samples up to Easter this year. And because we're doing a combination of not only interactive in stores but also consumer events, and then samples in shopping centres... we see the opportunity as so important. How do we explain the 3D? We can paint a picture but until you actually experience it you're not going to see the full value of it. Sampling is huge, it's a major investment for us."

The full interview with David Yarnton is live now

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Matt Martin

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Matt Martin joined GamesIndustry in 2006 and was made editor of the site in 2008. With over ten years experience in journalism, he has written for multiple trade, consumer, contract and business-to-business publications in the games, retail and technology sectors.

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