Nintendo slashing DSi price by 21% in Japan

Nintendo says it'll drop the price of its DSi handheld game system by a fifth in Japan

Nintendo may be the reigning video game hardware sales champ, but you may be surprised to learn it's also the record-holder for longest rock steady pricing.

That's about to change, at least in Japan. Nintendo says it plans to slash the price of the DSi by one fifth on June 19, according to Bloomberg, to revive sagging domestic sales.

Expect a DSi price drop from 18,900 yen ($205) to 15,000 yen ($163), or 21 percent, reports Bloomberg, adding that the Japanese DSi LL--equivalent to the U.S. extra-large DSi XL (PCW Rating: 3 out of 5)--should see a price cut of 10 percent, landing at 18,000 yen ($196). Sales of the DS have fallen in Japan since last year, down 1.5 percent to 4 million for the 12 month period ending March 31.

The original Nintendo DS launched in the U.S. back in November 2004 for $150, then dropped to $130 in August 2005. It's held there since, even after the slimmed down, camera-clad DSi launched at $170 in April 2009.

Analysts expect Nintendo to follow suit in overseas markets, e.g. the U.S., in anticipation of Nintendo's next generation 3D model, expected in Japan by early next year and elsewhere shortly thereafter. Nintendo's declining comment on followup international price relief, but DS sales are down in all markets, so the writing's more or less on the wall. In fact with E3 around the corner, I'm betting Nintendo drops the bomb at its June 18th press show.

The company says it wants to put "a DS in every home." It's certainly nearing its goal, with roughly 130 million DS handhelds sold worldwide and 30 million of those in Japan alone. According to a 2003 Japanese Statistics Bureau estimate, the number of households in Japan is around 47 million.

17 million to go? Should be a snap, once the Nintendo 3DS arrives.

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Matt Peckham

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