If you’re a console and handheld manufacturer, say like Nintendo, what do you want people to do? The answer is buy your products. You want a consumer to see what you have, be smitten, and spend money on the biggest, best, and most expensive version of a thing you have, so you can use that money to make more things. It’s common sense. Which is why Nintendo’s latest 3DS move is mindbogglingly counterproductive.
From the end of 2014 to the beginning of 2015, Nintendo rolled out the New 3DS and New 3DS XL worldwide. The idea was to put forth a better 3DS model with better performance, improved 3D functionality, NFC and microSD support, additional ZL and ZR trigger buttons, and an C-stick that acted as an additional analog nub. One model was smaller, but offered interchangeable faceplates for more customization, while the other was larger. Only the New 3DS XL was released in North America, which caused some fuss initially, but people dealt with and accepted it.
Except now, seven months later, Nintendo is suddenly bringing the New 3DS to North America too, in a special Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer bundle for $219.99, and it makes no sense.
It’s a case of too little, too late. Bringing over a New 3DS now will hurt the position of the New 3DS XL on the market. People who wanted one immediately likely grabbed the $199.99 bigger model. Those who didn’t will have to pay $20 for a version that includes a game they may or may not want. It isn’t like there’s a wealth of games demanding the NFC technology or improved elements of the system. The only ones that get a little something extra out of or require a New 3DS or New 3DS XL are Xenoblade Chronicles 3D, Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer, and Super Smash Bros.
Besides, it isn’t like the New 3DS is some proven sales success. In regions where it was released, it’s flopped. The New 3DS XL regularly outsells the standard New 3DS. Do you know what the sales figures for both systems were in Japan the week of August 15 ? 19,960 New 3DS XLs were sold. How many New 3DS models were moved? Only 5,967. Check any given week and you’ll see the same sort of response. The reception to the smaller system pales in comparison.
Perhaps it’s because Nintendo thinks people will spend additional money on faceplates? The problem with that is it’s too early to tell what sort of support will be offered. That the New 3DS is only available in an Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer bundle with one extra set doesn’t offer much hope or hints at what could come.
The New 3DS didn’t get a particularly warm reception in every other region. There aren’t many games to merit a New 3DS purchase over a standard edition. Plus, it’s arriving after the original New 3DS XL has had a substantial start. Seems like Nintendo didn’t think out the New 3DS announcement and launch very well. We’ll have to wait and see if this move serves to fracture the marketplace or results in a flop that matches the ones in Japan and Europe.