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When Nintendo dropped the price of the 3DS mere months after its release in 2011, it offered a mollifying "Ambassador Program" to early adopters of the handheld system. That program included 20 free games available to players who bought the 3DS before a certain date.
Now that the Wii U's price is dropping $US50 on Sept. 20, Wii U early adopters shouldn't expect the same treatment, though. Nintendo fan site Wii U Daily wrote to Nintendo to ask whether and when the Wii U Ambassador Program would be announced, and, they say, the Big N replied thusly:
Thank you for taking the time to write with your questions regarding a Wii U Ambassador program. The Ambassador program is only available to any Nintendo 3DS owner who purchased their system before August 12, 2011 and there are no plans for a similar program for Wii U.
I know that this isn't what you were hoping for, but we appreciate your support of our products now and in the future. I also want to assure you that your comments will be added to our records and made available for other departments at the company to use as they see fit.
Nintendo of America Inc.
Bummer. Of course, there's a difference between a console's price dropping a few months after its release and almost a year afterward. And as the recent unveiling of the 2DS showed, it's all about the price drops for Nintendo these days.
UPDATE: Our own Stephen Totilo actually talked to Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime earlier this week about the possibility of a Wii U Ambassador program. It came up during a discussion of how the Wii U's improved line-up for this fall, compared to last fall, echoed improvements to the 3DS' library when it was a young system.
Reggie Fils-Aime: The focus on making sure that this holiday, [the Wii U's] second holiday, is really strong is actually quite consistent with the way that we always thought about our hardware launches. Look at Nintendo 3DS. We lined up Mario Kart 7 and Super Mario 3D Land to make sure that its second holiday was as strong as possible.
Kotaku: Right, but with that one, the precedent set there was that you guys dropped the price by a third, I think under the recognition that the machine wasn't moving. And then, once that happened, that seemed to really propel it along. But, I mean, the Ambassador program and all that certainly sent a signal to me that Nintendo had miscalculated the appeal of the system at its initial price point. Lowering it seemed to solve it, right? Lowering it dramatically and doing those types of things [worked]. Are you guys doing any sort of Ambassador program for Wii U owners to thank them for coming in early and withstanding some of the [software] drought?
Reggie Fils-Aime: So, we have nothing to announce in terms of an Ambassador Program. And what I would do is reinforce what you just said. The situations are very different not only in terms of the timing, not only in terms of the level of the reduction… it's a very different situation.