New product launches are rough. The launch for the Nintendo 3DS went off well, it seems. However, the weeks that've followed continue to raise concern.
While some game consoles seem to be slow out of the gate, they later build up steam over time. Other consoles are firecrackers from the get go, but quickly burn out.
What's most concerning about the 3DS in Japan is just how low retailers are willing to pay for used 3DS consoles. In Japan, the "buy back" price is always a good way to judge how hot a console or game title is.
Most retailers are paying under ¥20,000 ($237) for used 3DS, a drop from the ¥25,000 (US$297) price paid for the 3DS when the console launched (the console retails for ¥25,000). One chain is asking ¥16,000 ($189) for used 3DS and ¥14,000 ($166) for used PSP-3000s. There are reports that buy back prices at one shop even went as low as ¥5,000 ($59)! Though, that pricing has since disappeared from the retailer's site.
What's more, some shops are cutting the price for used 3DS units. Pictured is one store that was asking ¥23,800 ($282) for used units, but changed the price to ¥19,800 ($234). Many "used" 3DS units popping up in stores in Japan don't seem used. They were bought by folks hoping to cash in on Yahoo! Auctions around when the 3DS launched in late February. The gray market for the 3DS never really took off in Japan.
Nintendo is in this for the long haul and has a tremendous track record with portable game consoles. The upside of the current 3DS situation is if you are thinking of getting a 3DS in Japan, get a used one. They're going for the nice price.