The price cuts come as Nintendo and rival Sony, which makes the PlayStation Portable, are feeling the competitive pressure in the portable gaming market. In April, weak sales of their handhelds were responsible for a majority of the 25% year-over-year drop in overall sales for the video-game industry at U.S. retail stores, according to NPD Group.
Contributing to the decline in sales on portable video-game systems is the growing popularity of gaming on Apple's iPhone and smartphones built using Google's Android operating system, which is used in phones from HTC, Motorola and Samsung. Thousands of inexpensive games are easily available for download through the vendors' respective online application stores. At the beginning of June, games were played by 65% of smartphone users, according to Nielsen. At the same time, smartphones use is growing and is expected to overtake sales of feature phones in the U.S. by next year.
To grab a slice of this market, Sony is reportedly planning to bring its PlayStation brand to the smartphone space. No such plans have come out of Nintendo yet.
In the meantime, Nintendo is starting with price to get more of its portable systems in the hands of consumers. "We know shoppers want to get the maximum value out of every dollar they spend," Cammie Dunaway, executive VP of sales and marketing at Nintendo of America, said in a statement.
More than 1,300 packaged games and more than 200 downloadable games are available for the DSi and DSi XL. While sales are slowing, Nintendo sold a lot of products from the DS family over the years. In the U.S. alone, Nintendo has sold more than 42.3 million units.