OPINION: What today’s 3DS launch says about retail

Today’s 3DS launch has been proceeded by one of the most strangely competitive retail battles we’ve ever seen.

Who’s ever heard of such hardware price cuts before it launched?

Nevertheless specialist and mainstream retailers alike have gone lower and lower. Morrisons went in with a bold 187 offer last week, and HMV is touting the best deal on the High Street, with trade-in incentives pricing the handheld as low as 105.

And just today Tesco announced an eye-watering 175 deal for the machine.

Nintendo says all that activity is an example of demand and consumer interest, which is true. These deals exist because they appeal to consumers.

But it’s also an example of the fiercer battle for stock that retailers foresee. And they need to prove they have the demand for units. Anecdotal reports suggest the deals aren’t just locking in new pre-orders, but tempting many to switch from a bargain at one chain to another down the road.

From a broader point of view, this also reinforces the cultural currency games have. Buying a 3DS at a saving of up to 40 is this decade’s equivalent of when it was cheaper to get a Harry Potter book from a supermarket.

Now, with the launch done, the pressure switches from short-term opportunistic deals to long-term engagement. Fierce retail action has built a new audience of 3DS owners. Here’s hoping retailers look to ways to keep them interested, rather than move onto another loss leader.

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