Nintendo’s willingness to charge more

This week’s shenanigans from retail group The Hut – shoving up listings for the Nintendo 3DS priced at £300 (now changed to pre-order pages) – got me thinking. The 3DS is set to be Nintendo’s most expensive piece of hardware since the Nintendo 64, 14 long years ago.

The UK price has yet to be announced – it should come out at Nintendo’s event in Amsterdam on Wednesday next week – but with the Japanese price at Â¥25,000 (£191), something between £200 and £250 is expected.

Let’s have a quick look back at Nintendo’s major UK launches of the last decade and a half:

Wii 08/12/2006 £179
Nintendo DS 11/03/2005 £99
GameCube 03/05/2002 £129
Game Boy Advance 22/06/2001 £89
Nintendo 64 01/03/1997 £249

Nintendo made a conscious decision after the Nintendo 64 to produce cheaper hardware – and it shows. But there are signs of an erosion of that policy. The Wii, for example, hasn’t had a price cut from the original £179 in over four years on sale. Is that a record?

The signs are arguably clearer if we look at iterations of the Nintendo DS:

Nintendo DS 11/03/2005 £99
Nintendo DS Lite 23/06/2006 £99
Nintendo DSi 03/04/2009 £149
Nintendo DSi XL 05/03/2010 £149

That seems to me like a pretty definite willingness to charge more. And what does that willingness coincide with? Increased popularity. It’s not rocket science: if people want it, you can charge more.

Is the 3DS more expensive because of the technology inside, or because Nintendo think they can bump the price up? I don’t know. Either way, they are presumably confident that people will pay £200 or more. I wonder whether that confidence is misplaced.

I’d class myself as pretty interested in the 3DS. But even £200 is a bit rich for my liking. I’m out.

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