Nintendo 3DS retail price, come on down, you're the next contestant on "the price wasn't right, so we're slashing it." Yep, Nintendo's marking the 3DS down an astonishing $80—from $250 to $170—not six months after the "no-glasses 3D" handheld launched in the U.S. on March 27th. The new price goes into effect August 12th, which I'd wager makes the 3DS a contender for "fastest post-launch price drop (by one-third) ever."
Irked that you already bought one? Anticipating backlash, Nintendo says it'll reward what it calls its "most loyal customers...for getting in on the action early" by offering them 20 free downloadable games from the Nintendo eShop.
Nintendo's calling the 830,000 in the U.S. who've snapped up a 3DS since it launched potential "Nintendo Ambassadors" (don't you feel regal?) and here's how your bid for accredited representation works: Anyone with a 3DS who uses its wireless feature to connect to the Nintendo eShop "at least once" before 11:59 p.m. ET on August 11th will "automatically be registered in the Nintendo 3DS Ambassador program."
From September 1st, "3DS Ambassadors" will be able to select from and download 10 NES Virtual Console games gratis (and before they're available to the general public), including stuff like Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong Jr., and The Legend of Zelda. Even after the paid versions roll out to the general public, Nintendo promises they'll remain free to Ambassadors.
And at some point before 2011 closes, Nintendo says it'll give Ambassadors another 10 free picks, this time from the Game Boy Advance Virtual Console catalogue. Think stuff like Yoshi's Island, Super Mario Advance 3, Mario Kart, Metroid Fusion, and Mario vs. Donkey. Here's the twist: Nintendo says it has no plans to make these Game Boy Advance games available to the public on the 3DS.
The Nintendo 3DS launch was kind of a mess. Battery life quibbles aside, the hardware was fairly interesting, but most of the games were mediocre (as well, the handful of games we've seen since). The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time's more or less singlehandedly carrying the system right now.
Nintendo needs to recognize that while a price drop might lure new buyers short-term, the only way they're competing with Sony's PlayStation Vita (launching this holiday) is with a stronger catalogue. Some of their first party games should help this fall, including stuff like Kid Icarus: Uprising, Star Fox 3D, Mario Kart and a new Super Mario game. But right now, the only third-party major on the radar is Metal Gear Solid 3D Snake Eater—another port, and even that might slip to 2012.