Today Nintendo revealed two major changes to their marketing strategy, one expected, the other wholly unexpected. First, they revealed that they plan to reduce the price of the Wii U deluxe and bundled sets from $349 to $299, while retaining the standard console at the same pricepoint. This move is expected to be particularly attractive as they prepare to release a bundle with the much-anticipated Wind Waker HD remake and a digital copy of Hyrule Historia.
Slashing the price of the Premium bundle while keeping the base system also at $299 might seem like an odd move, until considered alongside the fact that Nintendo is planning to phase out the older system entirely, once the current stockpile is depleted, in favor of the premium 32GB model.
As for the more shocking announcement, Nintendo revealed that in addition to the standard 3DS and and the 3DS XL, they are going to begin selling a third handheld the Nintendo 2DS for $129, effective immediately. The 2DS is a more streamlined device that has all the features of the current models, except for the 3D functionality. The move comes as a tacit acknowledgment that the ability to play 3D games and movies hasn't been as exciting for developers or gamers as Nintendo had hoped and is more of a unnecessary gimmick. The new console will come in black with red or blue, and is expected to be marketed alongside the latest round of Pokemon games.
The Nintendo 2DS will ship with an XL stylus, 4GB SD card with of course option to install a larger capacity card, software rather than Wi-fi settings, dedicated sleep switch, improved headphone jack, mono-only speakers, front-facing 2D camera and still a 3D capable back camera, and the standard streetpass indicator. No new information has been revealed regarding battery life, but hopefully without the drain of the 3D function it will be longer-lasting. Intriguingly, the system is no longer a clamshell, designed now as a single piece, with a shared screen hidden under the physical partition, making both top and bottom screens touch-capable. Most of the changes are seen as a cost-cutting measure, with Nintendo hoping to market even further to a kid-friendly audience.
Nintendo is taking aggressive moves to position themselves favorably when the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 launch this November. On the handheld side they have to compete with the onslaught of handheld phones and tablets taking over the portable gaming market, as well as the more powerful hardware of the PlayStation Vita. They are gambling on the strength of their software, particularly the powerful library of DS and 3DS games, and it will be interesting to see how the fare this fall and holiday season.