Auction Excitement Low for Nintendo DSi

With 10 days to go until Nintendo's new DSi handheld gaming device debuts in Japan, excitement for the product is muted on online auction sites.

The DSi, which is Nintendo's first refresh of the DS in two years, will hit Japanese store shelves on Nov. 1 and carries a retail price of ¥16,800 (US$165). It's been restyled from the current DS Lite and has a slightly larger screen, a digital still camera and is thinner at the expense of a cartridge slot of GameBoy software but is otherwise largely similar.

It's perhaps this minor update on features that appears to have dulled the excitement.

Typically ahead of big computer game hardware launches there's an active market in reservation tickets -- the chits issued by stores that guarantee the product on launch day without the need for a long wait.

On Tuesday afternoon on Yahoo Auctions, Japan's largest auctions site, reservation tickets for the DSi had attracted only one or two bidders and prices were hovering around the ¥3,000 mark. In contrast reservation tickets for the much more eagerly awaited PlayStation 3 were fetching up to ¥20,000 ahead of its launch in 2006.

On overseas sites the excitement isn't much higher. The DSi will be sold outside of Japan in 2009, but no specific date has been set yet.

A DSi with free shipping on launch-day from Japan sold for US$246, below its "buy-it-now" price of $299 and leaving a modest profit for its seller. Handhelds selling on Yahoo Auctions in Japan were fetching roughly similar prices. One sold Tuesday for ¥23,000.

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