Reggie Fils-Aime asked Nintendo to launch the 3DS for $199, but they said no
How Nintendo at large and how former Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime wanted to handle the launch of the 3DS is very different, as the former points out in his new book: Disrupting the Game. If he had it his way, a Reggie 3DS launch would have seen the handheld ship at $199.99, rather than the $249.99 price point Nintendo ended up going with, due to experience with the retail field and knowledge of the current state of the US market. After an “I told you so” moment due to sluggish sales, it was eventually cut to $169.99, and early adopters were given access to the Ambassador Program: something Reggie himself pushed for.
As uncovered by NintendoLife through his book, Reggie talks through the launch of the 3DS in great detail. Initially reminding folks that retail hardware margins are “typically slim” (he cites roughly 4%), he “repeatedly” asked Nintendo to launch the 3DS at $199.99, knowing it would struggle at $249.99. Instead the company took the latter route, and the handheld suffered for a time until Nintendo could turn things around.
Eventually, it became necessary to cut the price, at which point Reggie pushed for a loyalty program:
“The entire experience reinforced for me the need to move decisively when face with an issue or an opportunity. With 3DS, we did not let the poor sales performance linger. We moved quickly to create a plan and implemented it with excellence. The episode also reinforced the need to consider fully the needs of your best and longest-term customers. By implemented the Ambassador’s Program, we kept our strongest fans engaged with Nintendo 3DS even when the price of the hardware was cut dramatically. They remained advocates for the system and used social media to post positive comments about the digital games we provided as rewards for their loyalty.”
It was a savvy move, and of course Reggie gets to boast a bit in his business-centric book, which was a win for him at the time, and a win now. It’s been fascinating to take a trip down memory lane through the eyes of Reggie with his new book, now that he’s no longer with Nintendo. While a lot of these situations are likely a bit more nuanced, it’s easy to see why Nintendo might trip up from time to time through their decision making process, and how certain people inside aim to slowly push them in the right direction.
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