Wal-Mart isn’t waiting around for August 12. Despite Nintendo’s official date for the Nintendo 3DS price drop being this Friday, one of America’s largest retailers is jumping the gun, slashing in-store prices of the portable to $169.99 now.

Curiously, Wal-Mart has yet to do this for its online store, and has apparently made no official announcement to this effect. Still, we’ve heard from several IGN readers that they’ve been able to pick up a system from their local shop. Apparently not all stores have implemented the new price.

This has a number of implications, the most obvious being that consumers buying the system today are still technically eligible for Nintendo’s “ambassador program”. By signing online before August 12, these fans, who already bought a 3DS at discount, will be able to receive the 20 free NES and GBA titles that are being distributed throughout the rest of the year.

There are potential implications for Nintendo as well. Hardware agreements can require the publisher to compensate retailers for price cuts to maintain sales margins. (Nintendo president Satoru Iwata just acknowledged this point in his latest investor Q&A.) Will Nintendo have to pay Wal-Mart for the discount in addition to giving away free games?

We’ve reached out to Nintendo for comment on the situation, particularly to find out if it sanctioned Wal-Mart’s premature price drop. Technically retailers In the meantime, let us know if you have any luck getting a cheap 3DS!

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