Nintendo 3DS won’t be sold at a loss, says CEO Iwata; Price speculation ensues

In a recent interview with GamesBeat, Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata mentioned that while he couldn’t divulge pricing at this time, the Nintendo 3DS would not be sold at a loss to Nintendo.

From the interview:

SI: I have to refrain from talking specifically about the price point. What I can confirm is that, in terms of the production costs, it will cost more than the costs for the Nintendo DS today. Having said that, we believe we will produce enough value worthy of the production cost. We do not think we have to sell the products below cost.

This mirrors Nintendo’s pricing with the Wii, which launched as the only home console at the time to turn profit on hardware sales.

What this means for the consumer price for the 3DS is anybody’s guess, but Iwata did give some clues ”“ the production costs are higher than the Nintendo DS today ”“ which translates to a higher price for the consumer. Iwata didn’t say if the cost was higher than the regular DS or the DSi, but at best that puts the 3DS cost above $129 if you use the stock unit, or $169 for the DSi. If we’re playing on the safe side, we’ll use the DSi as our meter, which suggests the price could break the $200 barrier.

When asked in a completely unscientific and completely casual poll at E3, we found that most gamers felt that $199 would be an ideal price for the unit ”“ but could such a price be possible? We can assume a $200 price point without much concern ”“ most would agree that it would be a fair. The next most recent, and expensive handheld to hit the market was the PSPgo, which retailed new for $249 ”“ and was considered to be overpriced due to theorized lower production costs over the previous model. In contrast the 3DS contains new technology, increased processing power, three cameras, and an touch screen in addition to a widescreen 3D Parallax Barrier LCD, and it may not be unreasonable to suspect a higher price-point.

There are other concerns as well ”“ consumers may not want to pay more for a portable ”“ even a 3D portable ”“ then they would for Nintendo’s home console, giving the 3DS a maximum price cap of $199. If Nintendo breaks this taboo, they won’t want to reach far, and would be well advised to stay below the Wii’s launch price of $249. So let’s just say a price between $199 and $249 is reasonable, with upward possibilities of $299, just to cover our bases.

Our most reasonable prediction? $229, tops. Hopefully Nintendo will clarify this conjecture soon by announcing a price and release date.

What do you think the 3DS should sell for? Should it be packaged with any bonus items? Leave a comment and let us know!