Iwata: Expect a higher price point for DSi

Nintendo chief Satoru Iwata has confirmed that the DSi is still on course to launch in Europe and America in the next six months – but has added that the device will cost more than its predecessor the DS Lite.

The DSi is the third iteration of Nintendo’s dual screen handheld and boasts bigger screens, a built in camera and downloadable content store amongst other tweaked and improved functions.

It launched in Japan in late 2008 and has been a big hit with consumers in the territory.

And in an interview with investors following its recent end-of-year financials, Nintendo boss Satoru Iwata has revealed more about the launch and manufacturing strategy for the DSi when it arrives in countries outside of Japan.

He said: "I am imagining that launches of DSi overseas will be in the first half of the next fiscal year. As for change on production ratio of DS Lite and DSi, I would like to cite a historical fact that in Japan, DS Lite was more expensive than the original DS but the total demand converged on DS Lite very quickly.

"But in Europe, it did not happen so fast and these two had been sold together side by side for a long time. And in the Americas, as the total momentum of DS was very weak then, we had to set the price of DS Lite the same as the original. As a result, the demand converged on DS Lite early on.

"This time, considering the current foreign currency exchange rates, there is no possibility of selling DSi overseas with the same price as DS Lite at all. There will have to be a difference in price. With this price difference, I think that the DS Lite and DSi will be sold side by side in the Americas and in Europe, but I will not be able to comment on their ratio today as we have not announced the prices and we will have to see how people react to the announcement."

Iwata also provided information on the early adopters that bought the device in Japan, saying that consumers were a mix of core and casual gamers, suggesting Nintendo is still growing the games market: "Those who understood DSi earlier are, of course, those who actively gather information about video game industry. As these kind of people who already own DS start to try it first, they mainly account for the new owners of DSi at the early period.

"You might feel that the gaming population is not expanding at all if the same consumers are buying. But they may have a family whose members can be a recipient of their very own DS. So my understanding is that we must not stick to see just what kind of people have actually purchased DSi, but to measure how DS users would expand and how and what kind of people will be the owners of his or her own DS in the end.

"What I have talked about so far happened during nearly one month since the launch. In the second month, I mean December, more (various kinds of) people bought DSi. I have heard some reports like, ‘As expected, those who seem to know much and well about videogames came in to buy’ in November and ‘much more various kinds of people are coming in to the store’ in December, and those in the latter report are thought to be inactive to gather information of videogames; they did not see our websites beforehand, read the brochures in detail nor usually buy or read videogame magazines. These kinds of people came in and asked about the difference (between DSi & DS Lite) at retailers.

"After they learned the features of DSi, they were often grateful for the information, and gravitated towards the new DSi despite its higher costs and bought the DSi. And reports say those kinds of people are increasing.

"DS Lite is still maintaining a consistent amount of sales even after the launch of DSi. There are two reasons; one is because of DS Lite’s GameBoy Advance software functionality, and another is because DS Lite has more variation of colors. Others are buying DSi in high percentages. We also have reports of purchase by those who have never touched a DS."

To read Iwats’a investor call in full, click here.

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