Fils-Aime points to lack of software, late eShop for sluggish 3DS sales

By Steve Watts, Aug 10, 2011 4:00pm PDT

The impending 3DS price drop isn't a healthy sign for its sales, but Nintendo executives have been surprisingly candid about their missteps with the device. Now Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime is joining in acknowledging that the system simply didn't launch with enough strong software. Ambitious projections based on early excitement made the slower sales all the more surprising to the company.

"Candidly, based on the strong pre-sales and based on the strong first day, our expectations were extremely high," Fils-Aime told MTV Multiplayer.

He attributes the sluggish sales to two factors, both of which he says Nintendo has made strides to correct. "What we're doing in order to rectify this is, first, making sure we have great games. Because, in the end, a platform is driven by the quality and quantity of content to be enjoyed on the platform." He cites Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D as the start of a "steady pace of having very good content," which he says will continue with Star Fox 64 3D, Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, Pokemon Battle Rumble Blast, and Kid Icarus Uprising. "[We have] very strong content coming." Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7 were announced for November and December, respectively, earlier today.

The second factor, he says, is that the device lacked a "robust digital environment," since the eShop didn't follow until months afterwards. "With the launch of the eShop and now with the launch of Nintendo Video and the launch of Netflix, we believe we've addressed that issue as well."

Of course, it's hard to ignore one of the biggest factors, and the one Nintendo made a very specific and costly adjustment to change: price. Again, Fils-Aime cites pre-sales and day-one sales, saying "at that point we certainly felt the value equation was appropriate." After that, though, momentum slowed. "We know we have to have strong momentum going into the holiday timeframe. In order to address that, we've taken this dramatic step of reducing the price, doing it fairly early in the platform's life, to address the value equation and to reset that value equation beginning this Friday." Reggie also dismissed speculation of a hardware revision, a la DS Lite.

Fils-Aime's sentiments echo recent comments from company president Satoru Iwata, who said that the sluggish sales were due to a lack of strong software. It behooves Nintendo to learn a lesson from the experience, since those missed projections led to a poor financial report, stock drop, and executive pay cut.

Some retailers have already put the price drop into effect, so savvy shoppers can get the $169.99 price point and be part of the Ambassador program to boot. Enrollment is automatic if you log in to the eShop before midnight tomorrow, and it will net you 20 free games, 10 of which are exclusive to Ambassadors. Of course, you could always hold out for a Flame Red model.

Finally, Nintendo is also planning to launch a new device next year, the Wii U. Fils-Aime says the company "will take learning from 3DS, both positive and opportunities and apply all of those to the launch next year of Wii U. Things like the importance of digital. Certainly the importance of strong first-party support right at the launch. Those are things that we will look to strongly reapply as we prepare for Wii U."

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