Nintendo 3DS gets a huge price cut

Handheld system to cost just $170 starting August

Nintendo's 3DS portable console is about to get a price cut, less than five months after hitting store shelves. The 3DS, which launched in the U.S. on March 27 ( Nintendo changes portable gaming again ) for $250, will sell for $170 starting August 12. The system has not been selling up to expectations, with just over 830,000 sold in the U.S.

At a company meeting, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata explained that in addition to the price cut, company executives will be taking pay cuts, including a huge 50% pay cut for Iwata himself.

Nintendo has had a rough 2011, with declining Wii and DS sales, to go along with the disappointing initial 3DS sales. Iwata also hopes that the discounted 3DS systems will sell strongly enough to help the sales of this fall's big titles, such as Mario Kart 7 and Super Mario 3D Land.

To help ease the pain for players who already have purchased a 3DS, Nintendo is offering a staggering 20 Virtual Console games, free of charge, for anyone who connects their 3DS to the Nintendo eShop by August 11. This will enter 3DS owners into the "Nintendo 3DS Ambassador" program, though no other perks were announced.

Iwata also announced that the cut will mean Nintendo will be losing money on each console made, due to manufacturing costs. While this is common for PlayStation and Microsoft consoles in the early part of a life cycle, Nintendo has typically been the exception, making money throughout a sales period. Once console manufacturing costs come down, companies typically start to make money, and even release redesigned systems to prompt a sales boost.

However, it seems Nintendo had no choice if they want the 3DS to sell well in 2011.

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