Is Retail Price Matching the Nintendo 3DS Wrong?

Blatant pro-corporate pandering alienates gamers from their consumer rights

By , Contributor

GameFaqs is an interesting place, a cavalcade of video game strategy guides created by the community, and some of the most notorious forums known to man. It provides a perspective on the industry as a whole though, the site's age range anywhere from the youngest gaming tykes to hardcore players who have been around since the days of Atari.

That's why I tend to visit when news breaks, oddly enough that demographic spread providing a wealth of opinions better than most gaming-focused blogs. As such, with the struggling 3DS finding itself a recipient of a soon-to-be price drop, a visit to the 3DS forums were in order, and a thread shot right to the top, “All of you going for the loophole are disgusting.” Huh?

It turns out it was started by someone who finds the practice of retailer price matching abhorrent, offended that anyone would use such an exploit to take advantage of Nintendo's “generosity.” See, Nintendo is offering 20 free downloadable vintage and Game Boy Advance games if you purchase a 3DS prior to the $80 price drop on August 11th. As such, many decided to use price matching to not only score the cheaper hardware, but the free games as well. That's being a smart consumer.

To some, they felt the need to take up the cause, rallying against these “vile” people (seriously) who would dare to take advantage of decades old retail policies. A similar thread on Kotaku sprouted up too. “Nintendo is losing money,” they said. “Best Buy/Wal-Mart is losing money,” they said. “It's only a deal for people who paid full price,” they said.

And they couldn't be more wrong.

See, corporate politics don't work like that. If Nintendo didn't want people to use such a retailer policy, they never would have announced the free games beforehand. They would have waited until the the day before to announce the drop, or set the cut-off date for those free games as July 28th, the date when they announced the price slashing. Corporate accidents like that don't happen.

Keep in mind Nintendo basically invented retail gaming, coming out of the gate in 1985, making retailers rapidly adapt to a changing market. Did they invent price matching? No, but they're not the first ones to lower the price of a hardware either, and an unknowing soccer mom who buys a console on August 10th, not knowing the price drop happens in two days, would be infuriated if she didn't receive the difference just three days later. If some people are up on retail policies and follow industry news, more power to them.

If anyone believes there is money to be lost, the store suddenly handing about four $20 bills to anyone who purchased prior, they're also wrong. Video game retail works in a way that the store is compensated for price drops. If Best Buy has 10 3DS units on store shelves which they paid full price for come August 12th, Nintendo will compensate Best Buy for the loss. Whether a consumer rightfully uses a store policy to receive a discount or they sit on store shelves, Nintendo is still out the same amount. Surely, to push sales numbers higher, sell more software, appease third party developers, and instill confidence at a retail level, they want the console in a consumers hands.

After all of this, it truly makes you wonder if kids today are being raised as the perfect consumer.

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Matt Paprocki is a 13-year veteran of the video game, movie, and home media scene. He has written thousands of reviews, has been published on a variety of websites, and contributes his thoughts daily on a diverse range of topics.

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