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Nintendo cuts DS prices

Vidgamer pushes old device ahead of 3DS bow

With a new handheld gaming system on the way, Nintendo is giving its current device one last hurrah at retail.

The company announced plans Monday to shave $20 off the price of the two most recent versions of its Nintendo DS — the industry’s best-selling hardware.

On Sept. 12, the DSi will drop from $170 to $150 and the DSi XL will fall to $170 from $190.

This follows price cuts in several other countries — Nintendo lowered prices in the U.K. and Japan in June and in Australia in April.

Despite its market dominance, the DSi has faced increasing challenges of late and will soon be upstaged by the 3DS, a glasses-free, 3D handheld gaming system the company announced earlier this year.

The 3DS was a hit at E3, stealing the videogame industry trade show’s spotlight away from Microsoft and Sony.

Media and industry insiders were impressed with the system’s 3D quality, especially since the system foregoes shutter lenses or any other type of 3D glasses.

It also has a built-in gyroscope, giving it the same “tilt” functionality as an Apple iPhone.

The 3DS could also mark an expansion of Nintendo’s interests into the non-gaming world.

At its E3 press conference, the company hinted the system may also become a portable 3D movie device. Though it has not announced specific plans, Nintendo did show trailers from films from Warner, Disney and DreamWorks at the show.

The company has not revealed when the device will go on sale — except to say it will be before the end of March. More concrete information is expected Sept. 29, when Nintendo plans to announce the system’s release date and price. If the company hopes to surprise the industry and launch the 3DS this year, though, Monday’s price cuts could be designed to wring one last sales bump from the DSi — and salvage the DSi XL, an extra large version of the gaming system that hasn’t been a particularly big seller — before consumer attentions shift.

While the DS family of systems has been a consistently strong seller among gaming hardware, the core system is starting to get a bit tired.

The original Nintendo DS came out in 2004. Nintendo has added features like a camera and downloadable content, but six years is still a long time for a handheld system.

Accordingly, the DS hasn’t dominated the charts quite so consistently in recent months. Market saturation is starting to set in at the current price point, and competition from the iPhone, iPad and Android-based phones is growing at an escalating rate.

A price cut for the DSi was a certainty this holiday, given the system’s age. And a similar move for the DSi XL was nearly as likely, given its stumble out of the gate. Combine that with the stagnation in sales, and Nintendo has nothing to lose by cutting prices now.

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