For the ZU devout, Ocarina of Time 3DS might have been the turning of tide for the Nintendo 3DS. When Reggie Fils-Aime spoke with Kotaku back in June, he pretty much admitted that the 3DS had some hiccups getting out of the gates. “But when we started talking to consumers who were aware or interested, but hadn’t yet bought, they told us two things: first, I need a big Nintendo franchise for our purchase. The second thing was I need the network to be up. I need the connected experiences to be there.”

Clearly, those were two of the 3DS’ big issues. But now both of them theoretically have been solved. OoT3D solves the problem of games, while the second was solved by first network update, which brought forward the 3DS’ eShop, allowing you to purchase games over the Internet, and the eventual promise of 3D movies and Netflix soon to come this summer. All’s well in Nintendo’s world, right?

Apparently Reggie was wrong. The 3DS is still underperforming, significantly behind Nintendo’s expectations. So as a result, Nintendo has gone directly to de facto plan of last resort.

In early August, the 3DS will be significantly cheaper to buy. For Japan, it will lower its price to ¥15,000 from ¥25,000—a drop of 40 percent—on August 11. In the US, the price will drop the following day, going from $249.99 down to $169.99. No word yet if there will be price cuts in the other regions, though it’s likely you’ll see that elsewhere too.

In many ways, this price cut is rather historic and unprecedented in Nintendo’s history. Even Nintendo of Japan’s president Satoru Iwata seemed a bit flabbergasted by the development. “Never in Nintendo’s history have we lowered prices to such an extent, less than half a year since the product launch. But we have judged that unless we move decisively now, there is a high possibility that we will not see many of our customers enjoying a Nintendo 3DS.”

And that isn’t really surprising. Nintendo has set its target to be a one-year sales projection (March to March) of 16 million 3DS sales, but currently they’re only hovering at somewhere around 4.32 million in the device’s first three months, a figure they were counting on selling within the first few weeks.

The story could end up coming full circle with a reversal of winds come this holiday when Nintendo’s full franchise power starts to really kick in. With iterations of Mario and Mario Kart coming to bear alongside Kid Icarus: Uprising knocking at its door, if OoT3D didn’t actually solve the “games problem” Reggie noted, then certainly those will. Yet they come late within the year, and it might not have been enough to fix the 3DS’ launch problems, especially with the PS Vita hot on its heels, not to mention new iOS and Android devices expected to be announced in the interim.

Smart move for Nintendo? Well, it’s probably the only move they had. If the drop in price makes the 3DS on its own unprofitable, then at least Nintendo has the cash to soak up the damage for a while. But $250 was an expensive barrier of entry  with not a lot of bang awaiting you on the other side.

UPDATE: For those of us that already have a 3DS and connected to the eShop by August 11th, Nintendo is going to reward us with 20 free downloadable games before they become available to the public and enroll us in the http://www.nintendo.com/corp/nintendo3ds/news/. In September, 10 NES Virtual Console games will be available for download including Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong Jr., Balloon Fight, Ice Climber and The Legend of Zelda. These games will eventually become paid games for download.

Exclusive to the Ambassador program are these 10 Game Boy Advance Virtual Console games like Yoshi’s Island: Super Mario Advance 3, Mario Kart: Super Circuit, Metroid Fusion, WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$ and Mario vs. Donkey Kong by the end of the year. Nintendo currently has no plans to make these 10 games available to the general public on the Nintendo 3DS in the future.

Source: The New York Times, Nintendo.com