Nintendo took the first step with the significant price cut, offering enough of a drop that tight-budgeted gamers will need to seriously consider their choice of portables this holiday season. In the end, it will all still come back to the games. In this respect, the ball is more in Sony's court than Nintendo's. If the PS Vita can deliver a healthy supply of top-shelf titles at launch, with big-name announcements for a 2012 lineup, the 3DS could find itself stuck at the bottom of the gravy pot.
You can bet the big boys at Nintendo are going to be slathering on extra antiperspirant until after the holiday sales numbers are revealed, but you can also guarantee they aren't just glued to their seats with fingers crossed. So what happens if the scales don't tip in their favor come January?
Will Nintendo throw in the towel?
One absolute with the Big N is that after being knocked down, they pick themselves up and brush themselves off. They've certainly dealt with a fair share of blunders, with the Virtual Boy and the Game Boy Micro being two examples of failed systems. Nintendo also has a bunch of peripherals on the "Fail" list, from the e-Reader to the Power Glove. Nintendo's Research and Development is undoubtedly racking up the overtime hours, hopefully taking all the 3DS criticisms as constructive feedback.
If I had to make an educated guess, I'd say the Nintendo team has been tasked with redesigning a new 3DS with basically the same innards but a structurally more appealing exterior—the equivalent of the DS Lite compared to the DS Phat. This product will probably be announced if the 3DS sees an uptick in sales through the rest of the year. It would probably launch in the late-spring/early-summer (after all the suckers have cleared out the original 3DS shelves). It would do well to keep the $169.99 price tag, with the old model dropping to about $129.99.
However, what if the Vita wins the holiday sales battle and the 3DS sales fade to nothing? In this case, Nintendo would probably launch the true successor to the DS—losing the 3D, adding a second analog nub, giving it a little more graphical power, and making it altogether more versatile. This is by far a more drastic measure, with Nintendo compromising their integrity as an innovator to keep a share of the market, but it may very well come to that.
Either way, the next six months are going to be exciting and tense at the same time. Personally, I'm hoping that both the 3DS and the PS Vita share equal success this holiday season; that way I can enjoy all the games both systems put forth. While I don't think this recent price slash spells doom for the 3DS or Nintendo, they definitely need to put on their thinking caps and take a good long look at the ever-evolving gaming environment to see where they can make their handheld mark on a new generation. However, should this be the catalyst to an epic fail, take a glance at our recent article, "What If Nintendo Was Only a Publisher?"
By Sean Engemann
CCC Contributing Writers
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*