Well, today wasn't a sleepy Wednesday for Nintendo. Somewhat out of the blue, both Nintendo of America and Nintendo of Europe issued some major announcements. Nintendo of America gave more specific details on release dates for the most notable games of the Holidays, but both regions were united in revealing the Nintendo 2DS, which it's safe to assume was one of Nintendo's most surprising hardware reveals of recent years. In addition, while both regions confirmed rather tempting limited edition Wind Waker HD Wii U bundles, Nintendo of America went a step further to announce an official 32GB price cut of $50; that comes into effect on 20th September, the same day as an advanced download release of Wind Waker HD. Although the earlier download access to Wind Waker HD wasn't announced by Nintendo of Europe, it seems inconceivable that the price cut won't be a worldwide initiative.
There's plenty to think about, and a few of the Nintendo Life team have decided to give their initial reactions to the 2DS and upcoming Wii U price cut.
The 2DS was a bombshell - I didn't see that coming. The news is still sinking in for me, there are so many factors that may determine the devices' success. First and foremost I think it's a great idea to get an (even more) affordable version of the console out there, it also appears to make sense to lose the 3D feature because of those pesky health warnings for kids. With that in mind the branding, "2DS", also makes sense, but would unfamiliar consumers be able to understand that? I'm not sure. The design itself seems somewhat alien to those that are familiar with a 3DS - the missing hinge being the biggest factor here.
Having a hinge-less design has one obvious drawback, you can't close the device to protect the screens/buttons and as a result it also won't fit in your pocket like a 3DS or 3DS XL can. Does that mean that portability of the 2DS is compromised? Maybe. Nintendo must be targeting this device at a new audience, those that don't already have a 3DS, for whatever reason. Is it therefore designed for younger gamers (under 7)? or maybe for older gamers? I'm not sure. What I can be sure of is that this isn't aimed at existing smartphone gamers — sorry, that's one big device — unless of course they have a Galaxy Note.
It's common opinion that the Wii U needed a price drop to inject some enthusiasm into potential purchasers, so whilst a $50 cut is welcome I think $299 is still quite an ask for the American market. I'm no analyst but figure that $249 is the sweet spot that Nintendo really ought to be looking for. Here in the UK we don't have fixed RRPs for Nintendo products and with today's announcement I still can't see retailers driving prices down to £199 - the equivalent sweet spot. So, it's a good step forward, but perhaps not far enough to really increase sales going into the holiday season. On another note, it might be worth Nintendo formally scrapping the basic/deluxe sets and opting for a single product with black or white options - deluxe always did sound expensive.
The news about the 2DS certainly took me by surprise. At first it seemed like a bizarre move from Nintendo, but having thought about it this actually makes a lot of sense for parents with young kids like myself. I got my daughter a 3DS for her 4th birthday. She absolutely adores it, but as a responsible parent I have disabled the 3D function for her – in truth I would have preferred not to have it at all to save some money. Also, while the clamshell design is great for protecting the screens, kids do keep opening and closing the device really fast from time to time. I have to keep reminding her to be careful with it. So in my mind this would be the ideal device for my son when he’s old enough to start gaming as it is much cheaper – with an additional soft carry case of course!
Moving on to the Wii U price cut, this is really long overdue. With the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One launches just around the corner Nintendo simply cannot position “last gen” technology alongside it at a similar price point. It needs to be significantly cheaper to be perceived as offering value. I know Nintendo do not have a culture of subsidising the cost of hardware, but this is the way the game is played now. Sell hardware cheap and recoup the costs on software. Bundling the digital version of Wind Waker HD is a really smart move too. My only concern is that the price cut might still be a little bit on the conservative side.
Dat 2DS, eh? I'm still sort of struggling with it, in truth, but I'm no marketing mastermind; in practice it'll probably perform well. Like many Nintendo products it looks distinctly like a toy, and I'm fine with that, and while I'd never buy one it's not targeted at me or, I suspect, the majority of the Nintendo Life community. The trailer may show a couple of grown-ups smiling and playing for about 2 seconds, but this is all about younger kids and their parents. The 3D effect isn't suitable for very young gamers and may have been a genuine turn-off for some parents, and in one swoop the issue is gone. Marketing the DS angle is also clever, as I still see youngsters on DS systems when out and about.
I find the abandonment of the clamshell form interesting. In reality it's probably to give it a tablet-like appearance, as mini tablets designed for children are big sellers during the Holidays, at least they were when I had a short stint in retail. Beyond that, I wonder whether the loss of the clamshell sets us up for a move away from that design in the next portable gen. It's years away yet, but I know I'm not alone in thinking Nintendo could go back to single screen eventually; is this the start?
As for the Wii U price cut, I'd actually gone from assuming it would happen to thinking it wouldn't in the past few weeks, so that was a surprise. Very, very welcome, however, and it could be important. $50 isn't massive, but $299 is a psychological number, coming under $300 and undercutting the PS4 by $100 and the One by $200. When you consider that this includes Nintendo Land, and the Wind Waker bundle offers that game instead plus a digital copy of Hyrule Historia, those are quite attractive offerings. I'd like at least one more bundle with Super Mario 3D World, so we'll see whether that comes to fruition; that or any equivalent reveal may wait until October-ish.
As a Brit, I'm also curious to see how this cut translates in the UK and Europe — as it surely must. The dream scenario would be a £199 for a Deluxe, but that's probably way too ambitious. The lower it can get — perhaps £220-230 — the better, as it's all about catching consumer's attention; ultimately a price cut also means lower wholesale rates, to hopefully tempt retailers to pick up more stock. It's wise of Nintendo to go for the fun, affordable angle. I don't think the Wii U can make it as a "premium" product, but that's absolutely fine. I love Nintendo for its light-hearted enjoyment-first approach to games, so an image of the Wii U as "cool tech" matters little. Make it affordable, and it has a much better chance of seizing some momentum. I'm hopeful, anyway.
The inception of the 2DS makes sense at this point in time for Nintendo. The 3DS still has many years left in it but getting the price down to below $129 is always going to be tricky considering the investment that needs to be made with the 3D feature.
There are a lot of parents out there who are worried about their children straining their eyes by using the 3D feature too much and this completely eliminates that issue. There's also the cost, at close to $100/£100 the 2DS is affordable and is a good robust option for children aged five to seven. It positions the system nicely against other tablets aimed at children and as a dedicated gaming device in that particular market it cannot be beaten.
I believe the system will sell well, it enters the market at a good price, offers young kids their first games console and there is a massive catalogue of games just waiting to be played.
As for the Wii U price drop, which was confirmed in North America, I think it's a good move and positions the Wii U nicely in the run up to the festive season. It should definitely boost sales and with the inclusion of Nintendo Land it's difficult to find better value for money on the home console front.
I believe Nintendo has got its strategy right with Wii U in the second half of 2013. It's releasing high quality first party titles like Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and Super Mario 3D World, which cannot be played elsewhere, and is offering a brand new innovative system for under $300.
I personally think with those ingredients the Wii U will be a big hit with families this Christmas, while it will entice a few core gamers to join the party as well. One thing's for sure, that Wind Waker bundle certainly won't do any harm!
So those are some of our initial thoughts, let us know what you think of the 2DS and Wii U price cut in the polls and comments below.
What do you think of the 2DS? (670 votes)
It's great, I think I'll buy one!
It's great for those that don't have a 3DS
It's really for young kids only, in my opinion
It's okay, it makes sense I guess
I'm really not sure yet
I don't like it
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What's your reaction to the Wii U price cut? (621 votes)
I think it's a brilliant move, bravo Nintendo!
It's a smart move, but I'm not yet certain it's a big enough cut
I'm not sure yet
I think it's a poor decision, they should have left the price as it was
I'm really frustrated, as being within a year it punishes early adopters
None of the above
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