We’re at that nerve-wracking part of the year when companies reveal their earnings and sales data for the first quarter of the new financial year. So far we know that EA is stoked with their $999 million turnover, and we know that THQ has lost more than $30 million and has buried the Red Faction franchise.
Now it’s Nintendo’s turn. They’re not happy at all and the reason has to do with the seriously under-performing 3DS handheld. The current piece of flagship hardware for the Japanese gaming giant has only sold 710 000 units across the globe in the last three months. This is way below the expected sales and as a result Nintendo has cut their projected annual turnover by more than 80%. The company was expecting to generate a profit of ¥110 billion, but now they’re expecting about ¥20 billion.
This is forcing Nintendo to take drastic steps and as a result they’re cutting the price of the 3DS by more than 30%. In the USA, a new 3DS unit cost early adopters $249. Come 12 August 2011, a new 3DS will cost $169.99. Similar price cuts will come into effect in Japan, Australia and Europe. It is likely South Africa will see a price cut as well, but by how much we’ll have to wait and see. So, what about those who recently paid full price for a 3DS?
Fortunately, provided you’ve registered on the Nintendo 3DS eShop, early adopters of the 3DS will be able to pick up twenty free games from the NES and Game Boy Advance Virtual Consoles. That will include titles like Super Mario Bros. and Metroid Fusion. Those free games will only be available from September.
There are a number of reasons as to why the 3DS is doing so badly. One is the complete lack of games; something that is only starting to improve with the release of Ocarina of Time. The handheld has been out for months and there are still only about three dozen fully-fledged 3DS games available – in South Africa that amount is even less.
Another possible reason for floundering 3DS sales is the boom in Android and iOS devices and their ability as viable, portable gaming units. Throughout the world there are infinitely more iOS enabled devices in the hands of people than there are 3DS handhelds.
Could this be the beginning of the end for Nintendo as the dominant gaming hardware manufacturer in the world? It’s interesting how things constantly shift in this industry. As Kotaku’s Stephen Totilo points out, Nintendo has just found itself in the exact same position that Sony found itself in with the initially slow uptake of the PlayStation 3. Nintendo is going to have to work really hard to ensure the 3DS doesn’t become a flop; this price cut is certainly a start.