The Handheld Price Barrier: Nintendo’s 3DS

There’s seem to be a lot of shock around the American pricing of Nintendo’s latest handheld, matching the launch price of the PSP coming apparently as a surprise. The handheld market is new though, not what it once was, and we still carry these misconceptions like the mainstream media still believes this entire industry is for kids.

It used to be that handhelds were “half consoles” of sorts. The Game Boy existed alongside the SNES, the Game Gear next to the Genesis, and the Game Boy Advance straggling along with the Gamecube. As such, they were typically cheaper than the home consoles, mostly because the technology was a generation behind.

That’s not necessarily the case right now. The PSP, while not up to PS3 standards, was a gargantuan leap compared to what we had prior. It didn’t just play games; it went online, allowed for wireless multiplayer, and has evolved to almost match the PS3 in many ways. As handheld gaming has advanced, so have other devices. Cell phones which used to struggle to play a black & white version of Snake now have full blown experiences thanks to their innards resembling a computer.

That’s where we are now, people flocking to purchase a $600 phone, yet flinching at paying under half that for a gaming console. It’s a weird trend, and even if the phone has a wider range as a device, you’re not paying the same price.

No one would hope that the 3DS would cost more, and no one would argue if it costs less. If anything, this new pricing signifies how far we’ve come from a monochromatic Tetris in the realm of handhelds, and the technological leap is fascinating. Bring it on Nintendo.