Whenever a game is announced for the Nintendo 3DS, a general air of confusion tends to flood throughout the Nintendo fanbase. If you are brave enough to delve into the comments section of any YouTube trailer or tweet, you may stumble across one (or one hundred) people asking “Why isn’t this on Switch?”
Now obviously the Switch has been a hot topic in the gaming landscape for the past year, breaking all kinds of records. However when you look at it from a business standpoint, it makes total sense that Nintendo is continuing to support the 3DS.
As of today, the Nintendo 3DS has sold approximately 71 million units (according to VGChartz) and the Nintendo Switch is sitting at approximately 15 million units sold (according to VGChartz). So we can see that there is a much wider install base on the 3DS than on the Switch, but I don’t think that’s why Nintendo are continuing to support the 3DS… well, I don’t think that’s the only reason.
In fact, I’ve thought of six reasons as to why I think Nintendo are still supporting their 2011 handheld, and they are…
That Low Price Tag
The Switch may be the hot Nintendo console at the moment, but it sure isn’t cheap. With a price tag of $299 in North America (and a ridiculous $469 here in Australia), it certainly isn’t an easy pill to swallow for parents wanting to buy their kids something when they get good grades at school. I’m sure they love them, but do they $299 love them?
A few days after Nintendo showed off the Switch in October 2016, Nintendo’s president Tatsumi Kimishima stated that he did not want to sell the Switch at a loss, meaning that they wanted to profit from every single Switch unit sold. This was a reaction from the Wii U’s expensive hardware being sold at a loss only a few years prior.
The Nintendo 3DS is a much cheaper option for those who want to play great Nintendo games but don’t want to fork out all that cash. It is also a gateway for people wanting to potentially upgrade to a more powerful system later down the track. If a company can advertise their main product by selling their cheaper product, then that’s just a win-win scenario.
With the 3DS’s clamshell design, and the rugged 2DS that was designed specifically with children in mind, the handheld is a device suitable for kids of all ages.
When you consider this in contrast to the Switch, the hybrid console’s screen is always in danger of being damaged when it is undocked. The Switch also has detachable parts (Joy-Cons) and a flimsy stand that kids can easily break.
The 3DS is the perfect device for young ones to get their fill of Nintendo goodness before they are old enough to try out a more mature console. When you think back to every Switch commercial, most of them had young adults in them; whereas Nintendo 3DS commercials predominantly featured children huddled around playing their 3DSs.
Coincidence? I think not!
It’s Still Selling, So Why Not?
If you keep track of the weekly console sales in Japan, you may notice that the 3DS is still selling very well. Even in North America, the 3DS is seeing some of its strongest sales numbers in years.
Whilst this may surprise many of you, Nintendo still appear to have a lot of faith in the 3DS family of systems. The 3DS had a very successful holiday season last year, with sales data from mid-December 2017 showing that it can still compete with the best of them…
It’s difficult to say exactly when Nintendo will stop selling the 3DS, but I expect that it will still be around until those numbers begin to fall.
Nintendo’s New 10 Year Generation Philosophy
Recently, Shigeru Miyamoto has come out saying that Nintendo wishes to break away from the general conformity of what is considered to be an average console lifespan for the Switch. This got me thinking, why not have that same mentality for the 3DS?
It doesn’t have to be 10 years exactly, but this month (March 2018) marks the 3DS’s 7 year anniversary. Also consider that in the Nintendo Direct of March 2018, they announced Mario & Luigi Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey (boy, that sure is a mouthful!) for release in 2019! That confirms the eighth year of support for the 3DS.
Also, Nintendo aren’t one to shy away from their unusually long support for older systems.
Back on the NES, their last game for the system was released in 1994 – Wario Woods! This is a console that released in 1985 in North America (and when you consider the Famicom, 1983 in Japan). Also don’t forget that Just Dance 2018 was released on the Wii on October 24 2017, a console that was released in 2006.
that’s an 11 year lifecycle! If the install base is there, companies will continue to make the odd game for it now and then.
The Expansive Library
There are A LOT of amazing games on the Nintendo 3DS, and with such a low barrier for entry, that is incredibly enticing to parents buying their kids a Nintendo console.
The 3DS is also a great system for introducing young fans to Nintendo and “converting” them early. Nostalgia is a powerful thing, and if Nintendo can install that nostalgia into kids just like we experienced it with consoles from the NES to the Wii (depending on your age), that ensures Nintendo’s future for the next few decades.
Also consider that the 3DS is backwards compatible with the DS library, and we all know how expansive that platform’s library is!
The Ultimate Port Machine
Ever since most of Nintendo’s resources went over to developing games predominantly for the Switch, the 3DS has seen a lot of ports from past systems. I mean think about it, in the March 2018 Nintendo Direct, there were six games that were announced for the handheld system and four of them were either a port, remake or a new game expanded by old content.
Now let’s list all of the ports/remakes/remasters/etc. that have come out (or have been announced) for the Nintendo 3DS in the past two years:
- Hyrule Warriors Legends
- Rhythm Heaven Megamix
- Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past
- Gurumin 3D
- Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS
- Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King
- Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World
- Fire Emblem: Shadows of Valentia
- Metroid: Samus Returns
- Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions
- Mario Party: The Top 100
- Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology
- WarioWare Gold
- Mario & Luigi Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey
- Luigi’s Mansion
- Captain Toad Treasure Tracker
That is A LOT of ports! Consider that all of these games had majority of the work already done for them (story, art, gameplay), they’re super easy for Nintendo to get out onto store shelves. These games also have a great chance of selling well as they were all successful on previous systems.
This also supports my previous argument that Nintendo are trying to invoke a sense of nostalgia in today’s younger generation, and what better to do that than with the classic games that we older gamers have so much nostalgia for?
Also consider that remakes of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask are both on the 3DS, two games that have stood the test of time and are still highly praised to this day. Nintendo were even selling Ocarina of Time bundled in with a Nintendo 2DS for the United States’ Black Friday Sales for $79.99!
Now perhaps I’m reading a little too much into this (or perhaps a twenty-four year old should be spending his days thinking so intently about something else), but to me it seems like a no-brainer.
The Nintendo 3DS will always hold a special place in my heart. Every now and then, I don’t mind hearing that familiar click as I open up my Special Edition Majora’s Mask New 3DS XL to play once more. I personally have a few upcoming 3DS games on my radar that I’m looking forward to.
But what do YOU think? Should Nintendo keep supporting the 3DS, or should they put all of their focus on the Switch? Let us know in the comments section below!
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