The Nintendo 3DS finds itself in a bit of trouble. It’s launch was horribly botched, with little to no marketing, a horrible launch lineup, and some key features missing, promised in a vague ‘future firmware update.’ The system was priced high, and launched at the slowest time for hardware sales of the year. And while it still sold decently- 4.3 million units in four months is nothing to scoff at- the system has not performed as well as Nintendo, analysts and customers thought it would.
In light of this, Nintendo has changed its strategy for the 3DS from the passive stance that they had until late July to something more aggressive. A huge $80 price slash, coupled with the announcement of some key titles hitting the system before this year ends, a reaffirmation of Nintendo’s commitment to online and digital distribution, a new advertising campaign that differentiates the 3DS from the DS and downplays the 3D feature in favor of some other unique 3DS capabilities, and the 3DS looks like it might recover from its nightmarish, PS3-like launch. The fact that Nintendo has constantly been adding to the system by way of firmware updates- it has a really decent eShop now, which plays host to some great games, it has Netflix for movie support, and another app for 3D videos, and demos and 3D video recording is promised in the next major firmware update- means that the system seems to be finally coming into its own.
There are those, however, who still feel that the 3DS is a failure, or will fail, and it is often compared to other mammoth handheld market failures like the PSP Go, the N Gage and the Virtual Boy. This article here is not going to try to argue facts- those who believe the 3DS has failed will continue to do so until the system begins posting the extraordinary numbers at retail that its predecessor was known to consistently post. However, this article will list out five reasons as to why the 3DS simply cannot fail, even in spite of Nintendo’s initial mismanagement, impending competition from the PS Vita, and the smartphones and tablets eating into the handheld market’s pie.
Let’s be honest, a large portion of the 3DS’s troubled launch can be attributed to its shockingly high sticker price of $249, which, by Iwata’s own admission, was because of the overwhelmingly positive reception the system got at E3 last year. However, the problem was that, at launch, the 3DS simply did not seem to justify its high price of admission. At $249, we got nothing, no games worth playing, and most of the 3DS’s advertised features were unavailable, to be added in in a firmware update in the future. Moreover, while the 3DS is certainly a powerful handheld, it is thoroughly dwarfed by the PS Vita, and when Sony announced that the Vita would also be retailing for $249, the 3DS seemed like very bad value, especially since even after three months, its best game was an enhanced port of a thirteen year old game.
Nintendo has reacted to this admirably. The 3DS price was cut down to $169.99 recently, which makes it just $20 more expensive than the DSi, and the same price as a DSi XL. It also makes it much, much cheaper than the PS Vita, and suddenly makes it seem better value, as is evidenced by all the calls that Sony’s been getting about a potential Vita price cut. The 3DS is also now at the sub $200 mark, and is therefore in the ‘impulse buy’ category; it is also much cheaper than all of its smartphones/tablets brethren.
What this all basically means is that when a parent goes to buy his or her kid a DSi, they’ll just fork over the $20 extra, and decide to get the latest model. When a consumer has to choose between the PS Vita and the 3DS, he’s more likely now to choose the 3DS and get a couple of games as well, and all for less than the Vita would have cost. It means that if someone has a sudden influx of money, they’re more likely to buy the 3DS now than they were when it was $249, and perceived to be expensive and bad value. It means that a parent who was to get his or her kid an iPod Touch or an iPad will now most likely rather get him or her a 3DS, and save on a lot of money.
Basically, it means that the 3DS is priced just right, and it is waiting to take off at this sweet asking price.
The common perception is that the 3DS does not have enough third party support. This comes off the back of a trio of major cancellations all done within a month of each other (Saints Row: Drive By, Assassin’s Creed: Lost Legacy and Megaman Legends 3), and because the games that are due for release are all being delayed. However, this perception couldn’t be more wrong than it already is. The 3DS does not suffer from a lack of quality third party content- on the contrary, the third party support looks the strongest a Nintendo system ever has had in years.
Major third party games like Metal Gear Solid 3D, Tales of the Abyss, Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor, Resident Evil: Revelations, Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance, Cave Story, Shinobi, Sonic Generations, Rayman Origins, FIFA 12, Beyond the Labyrinth, Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle, Nano Assault, Heroes of Ruin, Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright and Need for Speed: The Run are all due to hit the system within the coming twelve months. The best part is, a large part of the upcoming 3DS games from third parties are still due to be revealed, possibly at TGS next month, because major third party 3DS support comes from Japanese developers, not western, as is the case with all handhelds.
Of course, this does not even take into consideration the Nintendo games that are all due to hit the system- Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, Star Fox 64 3D and Kid Icarus: Uprising are all releasing before the end of 2011, with Paper Mario, Luigi’s Mansion 2, Animal Crossing and Super Smash Bros. soon to follow. This, of course, doesn’t even take into account other Nintendo franchises that are bound to show up on the system- we can bet that we’re getting a 3DS Metroid sometime soon, and a new Pokemon game for the 3DS is not a matter of if, but when. Some other franchises that we can possibly expect to show up include Kirby, Donkey Kong and Advance Wars. And this doesn’t even consider the fact that the 3DS is probably getting an original, exclusive Zelda sometime soon, and a Majora’s Mask remake as well.
And we haven’t even started talking about the eShop. Slowly but surely, Nintendo’s online store seems to be coming into its own, and it offers quality content across so many storefronts, from the Virtual Console label to 3D Classics, to of course, DSiWare.
With so much quality content coming from every conceivable inlet- first parties, third parties and digital- the 3DS is bound to sell a good amount to gamers.