/ Shopping, Technology

Nintendo’s refusal to set 3DS price was a smart move

Nintendo 3DS

Nintendo chose not to give its latest handheld games console, the 3DS, a recommended retail price in the UK. Despite this being left to exploitation by stores, it prompted a price battle that was good for us.

When the Nintendo 3DS was announced there were just two things people wanted to know – when could they have it and how much would it cost?

Nintendo gave us a 3DS release date, but it surprisingly told us that its cost would be ‘down to the retailers’. It was a very different story across the pond – the US was given a recommended retail price of $250 (around £156).

Price battles amongst UK retailers

In retrospect, Nintendo’s lack of retail price in the UK was a smart move. By leaving the 3DS’s price in the hands of retailers, Nintendo was able to cleverly avoid being blamed for the handheld’s initial high price.

When UK stores started offering it for an excessive price of £230 – making the 3DS one of the most expensive handhelds ever released – Nintendo was essentially blameless.

As the release date drew closer, retailers slowly began to drop its price, each waiting for their competitors to make the first move. This meant that come launch day, we found ourselves in a position where the 3DS was available for just £187. That’s quite a contrast to the original £230 price – £43 can buy you more than just one game.

As for the US – the 3DS’s original retail price of $250 has remained constant, with the majority of retailers sticking to it. Where’s the competition in that?

Should other manufacturers follow?

Of course, it could be argued that the 3DS was simply too expensive in the first place, hence it’s reduction in price. You could also say that, even with its huge price drop, we’re still paying quite a bit more than our American cousins.

However, I feel that the lack of a set retail price really did encourage retailers to fight it out for our custom, and I hope that we’ll see a similar approach from console makers in the future. Do you think more manufacturers should refuse to set RRPs?

Ben Parfitt says:
29 March 2011

The reason Nintendo doesn’t announce European RRPs is down to a price fixing fine it received from the EC in 2002.

Other than that it operates in exactly the same way as any other tech firm. It sets a trade price that is communicated to distributors and retailers. This trade price will be designed to facilitate a specific RRP.

The only difference is that the likes of Microsoft and Sony will then go on to communicate that RRP to consumers – though some of course will choose to sell for below that.

Nintendo chooses not to purely because it wants to avoid any risk of further price fixing allegations.