Nintendo 3DS price drops to $170, current owners get free games

The Nintendo 3DS is getting a major price drop – a sign that things have not gone particularly well for Nintendo's latest handheld.

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    The Nintendo 3DS is getting a price drop. Here, a user checks out a 3DS at an electronics shop in Paris.
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Less than five months after launch, Nintendo is dropping the price on its 3DS handset from $249 to $169.99. The cut will take effect on August 12, but early 3DS adopters shouldn't fret – as long as you've connected to the Nintendo eShop at least once by August 11, you'll get a total of 20 free downloadable games.

Over at PC World, Matt Peckham quips that this qualifies as "fastest post-launch price drop (by one-third) ever."

Pity the Nintendo 3DS – it was troubled from the beginning. The device won mixed marks from reviewers, who have fretted about the underwhelming battery life, but praised the glasses-free 3D effects. "Instead of popping out, the 3D image feels like it goes deeper into the screen," one reviewer noted. "The best way we've been able to convey the effect is by referring to those old Magic Eye images that required some eye-crossing to get 3D objects to appear."

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Late in March, Nintendo, announced that US day-one sales numbers for Nintendo 3DS were the highest of any Nintendo hand-held system in history – a good sign for the Japanese manufacturer. But the New York Times reports that sales in the longterm fell far short of expectations, and by June, Nintendo had managed to unload only 710,000 3DS units. (Total sales currently sit somewhere above the 800,000 mark.)

In related news, during an earnings call earlier this week, EA CEO John Riccitiello revealed that the iPad was now the fastest-growing platform for his company.

"Gone forever is the 4- to 5-year console cadence that gave developers ample time to invest and retool for the next big wave," Riccitiello said, according to PC World. "Consider that just 18 months ago, there was no iPad, Google was just experimenting with Android and most big games were limited to a single revenue opportunity at launch."

Today, downloadable content is huge, millions of gamers own smartphones and tablets, and the game development cycle has been kicked into overdrive. That can be good news for gamers. But it sure isn't good news for Nintendo. Own a 3DS? Drop us a line in the comments section. In the meantime, sign up for our free weekly newsletter, which arrives every Wednesday.

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