News Article

3DS Sales Momentum in U.S. and Europe is 'Not so Good'

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Post-Holiday slump

When it comes to sales in Japan, 3DS has been the undisputed number one for a number of months, finishing top of the hardware charts and often out-selling all other consoles combined. The story elsewhere, however, isn't as rosy, and while we're probably not looking at poor sales of the level that prompted a significant price-drop last year, it's still an issue for Nintendo.

The question of 3DS sales came up when shareholders raised the issue of declining share prices to Satoru Iwata; he admitted that the handheld was, at the moment, part of the problem.

What we should say first is that while the Nintendo 3DS has a certain degree of sales momentum in Japan, the momentum in the U.S. and Europe is currently weak. To be more specific, sales of the Nintendo 3DS are constant in Japan and in fact we could say the sales volume is exceeding our forecast at the start of this fiscal year. After the beginning of this calendar year, the average unit sales have been 83,000 units on a weekly basis. This means that about 55% of all gaming hardware sales in Japan consist of the Nintendo 3DS. Now, with the level of sales momentum for the Nintendo 3DS created since the last year end, we would say the center of the Japanese video game market has been the Nintendo 3DS. This scenario is the scenario we were drawing at the beginning and in that regard, the growth is steady.

On the other hand, sales momentum in the U.S and Europe is not so good. Considering that the U.S. and European markets are larger than the Japanese market in terms of the size of the population, sales in the U.S. and Europe are supposed to be larger. At the year end of 2011 the sales momentum in those markets increased in the same way as in Japan; however, the sales pace went down after the beginning of 2012. As a result, the sales proportion of the Nintendo 3DS is now about 20% of the total video game sales in those markets. Thus, solid sales momentum has not been created. For those investors who understand this situation, they might think that our earnings situation will not turn around in the way we have mentioned, or they might think it will take a much longer time than we expect to revitalize the profit situation. With the Nintendo 3DS XL I just spoke about and our key titles, such as “New Super Mario Bros. 2,” to be released globally this summer, one of our immediate top-priority missions is to create sales momentum which can wipe this type of concern away at an early stage.

Iwata went on to make valid points about the differing cultures, where handhelds are far more prominent in Japan than elsewhere. That said, a 20% market share for the newest console on the block, apart from the PS Vita, is still fairly low. The arrival of Mario last Holiday did boost those sales in the U.S. and Europe, so Nintendo will be hoping for a similar boost when the famous plumber returns, with 3DS XL in tow, this August.

[via nintendo.co.jp]

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User Comments (61)

LEGEND_MARIOID

#1

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

Which is why they should've probably delayed release of the XL in Europe and NA till next year. How are they gonna shift all the units especially in the Wii U year?

shingi_70

#2

shingi_70 said:

And of the momentum isn't great released a even more expensive model (though better) that is gimped some places will help how.

The handheld market is slowly contracting in the west, sadly enough.

Mahe

#5

Mahe said:

The handheld market isn't contracting. The 3DS is just a bad piece of hardware with a poor game selection (so far). If the game selection gets better, the sales will pick up too.

WiiULoveGBA

#8

WiiULoveGBA said:

If NA got the white 3DS they'd have sold more especially if bundled as a kid Icarus edition.

Not-Another-Ad

#9

Not-Another-Ad said:

And then they release the XL,wow they're clever.
And cause we're not getting a charger with ours,I have a funny feeling people will not buy it,for that reason,and also because £179 is far too expensive.
They need to make it £150,with a game,and a charger,to be classed as reasonable.

MAB

#10

MAB said:

Godzilla facepalms ;)
When you take into account the whole DS back catalogue + 3DS and eShop games no other handheld can compete with a library of that magnitude :)

nindocrash

#11

nindocrash said:

I hope the handheld consoles won't end up dead like those poor old arcade machines we once knew...

cfgk24

#12

cfgk24 said:

The 3DS standard size is a Fantastic Piece of Hardware.
The 3DS XL is also a superb piece of hardware - it will sell and it's good that they released it now.
I agree that the more good games we have- the more console sales there will be.
I am more happy playing my 3ds than my xbox or Wii and games such as Resident Evil Revelations and Monster Hunter that are so perfectly produced and huge in scope are all I need - I just need more of them!

kyuubikid213

#14

kyuubikid213 said:

@Mahe
What? What planet have you been living on? The 3DS has a great library of games and is also a good piece of hardware.

Are you talking about the 3DS at launch? Still doesn't make sense.

Anyway, sales will pick up at the same time they always do in NA. Around Christmas time.

shingi_70

#15

shingi_70 said:

@MadAussieBloke

You'd be surprised how many people don't really care about quality games and prefer quick bites of gameplay. A good software line up means nothing if no one is adopting the system.

DestinyMan

#16

DestinyMan said:

And that's why the 3DS XL and New Super Mario Bros. 2 will boost the sales back to normal. Then you've got upcoming titles like Paper Mario, Luigi's Mansion, Epic Mickey, and more that will push it further. I'm not worried.

Japan is doing a lot better because handhelds are a big deal and features such as streetpass are easier to use there. The 3DS library is fantastic and will only become more so. Summer isn't exactly the most active time for buying video games too.

BudrSbastig

#17

BudrSbastig said:

There are some good 3ds games, but when was the last big hitter ? march with kid ica and resident evil, there has been nothing special since.

ShellyDeKiller

#18

ShellyDeKiller said:

It's almost as if people are noticing that Apple is offering cheaper, more casual based games, thus taking away all the people who bought the DS for Nintendogs and Brain Training....

I hate having to bring up iPhones and iPads, but Nintendo can't keep ignoring them forever.

ajcismo

#21

ajcismo said:

The problem isn't just Nintendo's in America, its Sony's and MS's too... That problem is a severe lack of good, new software on a year-round basis. Japan gets several RPGs, first crack at new IPs, and other "goodies" far more often than we do... until the holiday season. When the holidays roll around we're bombarded with dozens of must-have titles on all systems and platforms, which means spending a ton of money in a very short amount of time. Nintendo wants to sell more 3DS's? Then start spreading out good quality games and features between January and September.
Perfect example here: Xenoblade. By releasing it in April, and then the Last Story in July, Nintendo has almost guaranteed keeping Wii owners happy for the last year of the Wii's life with 2 must-have titles. And without breaking the bank at Christmas.

ejamer

#22

ejamer said:

@BudrSbastig
Well said. The games=sales equation isn't hard to figure out... so how come 3DS hasn't seen a decent piece of software in North America for literally months? When games like Rayman and Heroes of Ruin get delayed when there is no competition, it makes me think that the near-term future isn't that hot either. Nintendo rushed out software at the end of last year and won some short-term sales, but do any of their games really provide an addictive experience that people want to keep coming back for? Kid Icarus maybe, although opinions are divided even there.

eShop is carrying the system at the moment, but frankly that hasn't been enough to make the investment seem worthwhile.

Icefreak45

#23

Icefreak45 said:

Like Iwata said, handhelds arn't as big a thing in the west as it is in Japan so the sales won't be as big. Most people I know only play consoles if they play video games at all.

As for games, there has been some good games to come out this summer (Heroes of Ruin, Theaterythm, Rhythm Theif) but everyone knows Christmas is when games have the biggest sales.

1takauchiha

#24

1takauchiha said:

Wow, why do you think? Everyone's pissed off about the 3DS XL. Nintendo screwed up big time.

LEGEND_MARIOID

#25

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

To be fair "momentum" doesn't mean no gain at all. It means not enough increase in gain. Yeah, the DS back catalogue is one of the best in the history of gaming but the world anmd one has a DS. 3DS need a similar library.

SkywardLink98

#27

SkywardLink98 said:

And then the holiday season come along "Breaking news, the 3DS sells 10 million more hardware units in the U.S. alone!"

Kohaku

#28

Kohaku said:

Maybe Nintendo should bring more games to us then Just Mario and friends. Where is Monster Hunter? Why no Pokémon? Animal Crossing not before first half 2013.
Give America and Europe more games and that will help. And don't expect that new gamers will buy a handheld without adapter.

domdom87

#32

domdom87 said:

Japan's been getting a few limited colours, and more games. DO WE HAVE TO SPELL IT OUT TO IWATA?!

Koos

#33

Koos said:

They need a constant release of big games. NsMB 2 KH and Luigi Mansion are the right direction but they should.work to have.third parties release more. Like Castelvania there should.also be a new assassin creed GTA call.of.duty all that stuff.

Drewroxsox

#34

Drewroxsox said:

Here's a hint nintendo. Release a big title during the summer, and you'll get some money. Why do you wait til the holiday season to release all of the big titles? You don't give anyone a reason to pick up a 3ds at any other time besides November-December.

Ernest_The_Crab

#35

Ernest_The_Crab said:

A combination of a bad economy (especially in Europe) and portable gaming (Vita isn't doing well either) not being such a big thing in US are most likely the contributing factors. Apple's huge popularity in NA comparatively doesn't help either.

I'd say Apple competition and Europe's debt crisis are the biggest problems here. I can bet the sales will pick up considerably in Europe (for all platforms) when they fix their economy.

Nintendo should probably put some more investment into Canadian operations seeing as how the economy there is slowly growing back (unlike the States). Both Walmart and Target have taken notice already and are attempting to preempt their own competitors.

RR529

#36

RR529 said:

@Mahe, are you stuck in summer 2011?

Anyhow, summer is always the "dry season" for video games, so this isn't too surprising. Once the winter months arrive, more big games will be released, resulting in greater sales.

Gilius

#37

Gilius said:

Has anyone notice that the 3DS XL looks like a Mcdonalds happy meal toy? xD

Kohaku

#38

Kohaku said:

@LztheBlehBird
Um, read the description of the XL again. Europe and Japan are not getting the adapter with the system. The world is bigger than just the US.

Chriiis

#39

Chriiis said:

Now that B2 + W2 are out, how long are we going to have to wait a core Pokemon game on the 3DS?

kdognumba1

#40

kdognumba1 said:

I could be talking out my butt with this one but maybe it could have something to do with a quite large number of games that are already out in Japan or are coming soon in Japan but aren't in EU or NA yet. You know, games sell the system and while the big Nintendo series's are always good, titles such as Monster Hunter and Fire Emblem are key titles that attract core audiences. Also grabbing western style series's and showing them off is also a key thing you need to do.

MysticX

#41

MysticX said:

In Holland at least, there are two shelves of DS games for the one shelf with 3DS games, many people who are interested in Nintendo style gaming have a DS (one of the three versions), and with games still coming out for it (And the months long slump in releases for 3DS), as well as DS games being cheaper overall, why should people upgrade?

gamecubefan

#42

gamecubefan said:

New Super Mario 2 and 3ds XL is going to really help the 3DS in America. Typically the side-scrolling Mario games move many more copies than Galaxy or 3d Land in the states. People here love their classic side-scrolling Mario. I think it will be an especially big seller here due to the coin-collecting-heaviness

gamecubefan

#43

gamecubefan said:

Anyone else think the YELLOW CAPE might return? Seeing all the coins in the game I instantly thought of that level in Super Mario World when you first get the cape.

ouroborous

#44

ouroborous said:

It's a shame, the 3DS is a wonderful device, I can't get enough of the 3D effect. I wouldn't even consider buying a PSVita since it lacks 3D... what in the world were they thinking???
....it's just that the selection of games is piss-poor and the 3DS has been out for like a whole year now. It should have had some AWESOME launch titles of all the biggies like Metroid, Castlevania, Zelda, and Mario. But all we got was a Zelda re-hash, which did thankfully turn out to be awesome, some ports of older PS2 games and such which are also very good but not what anyone really wanted and a very very very slow trickle of any games at all. A few great games have popped up here and there but they were not launch games, and that was a problem.
Sadly most of the games that I own and even like are games for 3DS that I only bought because there was nothing else to buy or play. Maybe there are loads more games out in Japan, if there are, then that's why it's selling so much better there.
I wish more people cared in NA about 3DS, I'm one of the ONLY people I know who has one. Before the price drop I would never even have considered getting one and figured I was probably wasting my money anyway, but was pleasantly surprised. Still the 3DS library is 1% of what it should be by now. Thank god there are some good games on the way this year and next but its still a very sparing few at best. If 3DS had a good selection of games it would literally be my primary gaming console, but alas, it sits idle only because there are no games to play on it.
The other factor is, it's just another DS in most people's eyes and not really something new, and in alot of ways, it's true. It's an upgrade but really, that's it. It hasn't become a must-have for hardly anyone yet. Nintendo is going to go the way of Sega in the next 5-10 years and become nothing more than an anual developer of a new mario game for Xbox and Playstation download arcades. It's sad, but they have totally done it to themselves since they like to firmly keep their heads in the clouds and refuse to look at the world and see what is going on and what is actually selling.

VincentV

#45

VincentV said:

Here's how the 3DS could become successful: make it known. It's known, and to quite an impressive degree, but believe me: if Resident Evil: Revelations, Dead or Alive: Dimensions, Mario Kart 7, Zelda: OoT 3D, and other distinct one-of-a-kind experiences were more prominent, people would want it more. And lack of a 3DS Call Of Duty isn't helping. Maybe a port of an Elder Scrolls game, like Morrowind could help. However, the Vita is even closer to those kind of experiences, so Nintendo had better make a game engine to give to 3rd party devs to get its games closer to it. That and leverage its own IPs like Pikmin, Metroid, Zelda, Mario, SSB, etc.

VincentV

#46

VincentV said:

@ouroborous Yeah, its lack of FPSs & RPGs is bad, but tons is about to come, and fighting games and Resident Evil are brimming on the 3DS (where have you been?). To miss those is a big mistake; those are some of my favorite games (RE: Revelations was awesome, and I enjoyed borrowing my bro's fighting games, I've been tempted to buy them myself). If you haven't looked into those, you're missing out on what helped keep me using my 3DS, though I'm starting to run low on games for it now. Until then, I have my Wii & 360.

BudrSbastig

#47

BudrSbastig said:

Nintendo need some proper adverts, not some old has been from sex in the city pretending to play mario. They need to show the great features and some in game footage. If you don't read gaming media, you will have no idea what 3ds is. Sony have the exact same problem with vita. Both great systems but both let down by there stupid adverts.

Sean_Aaron

#48

Sean_Aaron said:

What Shelly said. iOS/Android devices are nicely fulfilling the role of handheld gaming device for many who might otherwise have a 3DS or they have a DS and don't see a need to upgrade.

I know people on this site like to slag off platforms like the iPhone and iPad for games, but a lot of folk view handheld gaming as something done occasionally and don't see the need for a specialised platform dedicated to it.

Pixel-Perfect

#49

Pixel-Perfect said:

Maybe if Ninty had revealed some new games back at E3 people would have had more reasons to buy one.

pc999

#51

pc999 said:

I would blame the price of the games, they are quite high, specially campared to similar products on XBL, Steam, or even iOS/Android.

Marioman64

#52

Marioman64 said:

@pc999 yep. I'm fine with the price as I'm used to a console game being $50 and a handheld game being $30. the $40 price seems like the perfect average for a system that delivers both in advanced visuals and higher storage capacity (what is it like 4gb on a 3ds card?). plus there's lots of $15 3ds games floating about like Ride Racer and Nikoli's pencil puzzle to even out the... pricy-ness

scrubbyscum999

#53

scrubbyscum999 said:

We all know the West isn't that into handheld games, plus there isn't as many games for the 3DS right now as there SHOULD be. Plus, there hasn't been a big release in a while.

maxkollide

#54

maxkollide said:

I just thought I'd say my piece here.

First of all, it's not the game selection that's the issue. It's culture and image that's the main stumbling block of the 3DS. The hardware and the games are stellar. The games that are coming out soon are also brilliant, and I know a lot of folks who want to see some of the games... yet, these are the exact same people who are refusing to buy a 3DS. Wait, what?

Yep. I know at least 15 of my friends who I have talked to about handhelds are not planning on buying a 3DS. Every single one, without exception, has told me that the reason they're not getting one is because "It's a DS. I already have a DS." The way Nintendo has managed to market the console by calling it the 3DS, then only focusing on the 3D, has shot themselves in the foot. Nobody seems to realize it's actually a new console, with new features and new functionality. The 3D is deemed a gimmick, and a poor one, and everyone I know believed (until I talked to them) that the console simply was "A DS with 3D".

And now, the fun part. I'd actually managed to convince a few of them to buy the 3DS, and just when they were going to get one, the 3DS XL is announced. They dropped it ENTIRELY, vowing not to get the console, because of Nintendo's history with the DS line of consoles. I can't speak for everyone, but of the people I know, releasing the 3DS XL was a deal breaker. Nobody wants to spend $150-200 on a console to see it obsoleted in only a year. Releasing a new color is one thing. Releasing a hardware upgrade is another.

TL;DR Nintendo's business model and marketing tactics are driving people away

malle66

#56

malle66 said:

@BudrSbastig

so true. Japan gets way more games, so the 3DS sells better there. I really have not many 3DS games yet, because I don't like most of them.. Yet I have over 150 DS games.Waiting anxiously for Harvest Moon Origins to be played on my future 3DS XL.

thanos316

#57

thanos316 said:

the share holders. seems like all companies are always answering to the share holders. its all about making more money than the past year. if nintendo brought back the original nes and started selling it now and it makes more money than the wii then i think the share holders would be happy. but really the ds sold boat loads and has some great games on it and im sure the 3ds will do the same given some time. but i guess its all about that dollar bill and always will be. whos gonna take that leap of faith on the next big thing or will it always be money spent on the sure thing. there is a revolution coming and its gonna hit gamers hard.

dimi

#58

dimi said:

The games are expensive and not 50 times better than 0,99 ones. 3ds need some new decent RPG's. Can't Square bring Final Fantasy-O to 3ds? Or a new game. Pokemon, Persona, Golden Sun, a new FF, DQ something?

LEGEND_MARIOID

#59

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

@malle66 good for you and I would have bought it if I had a choice of standard 3DS or the XL at launch (I'm sure many would've done). As of now, I "can't afford it" AT ALL as I am saving for the Wii U. EVEN sold my PS2 and its games recently as part of my plan. The memory is painful to me.

Slapshot

#60

Slapshot said:

@MadAussieBloke Um... actually it can, because the PSP has the entire PSP lineup, PSP Minis and the entire PSone collection that can be put either downloaded onto memory sticks via PSN purchase, or played through a WiFi connection via a PS3. ;)

Sorry, just keepin' it real.

Phle

#61

Phle said:

How is Apple a problem? I'm a Mac fan, and I own an iPod, an iPhone and a Mac laptop. I'm also probably getting iPhone 5 when it launches. But I don't think those products can really replace a gaming console.

What I see as a problem where I live is that DS and 3DS is usually only sold as if they where only for kids, and are sold mainly with the games that are made for kids or suitable for everyone. The more adult titles like Resident Evil is something you really have to be looking for to ever know it exists.

The few girls I know my age either think that the 3DS "is for kids" or "I'm not the kind of person who play games", usually both applies. They refuse to try it, even if I bought them a 3DS, they wouldn't even open the box... I think maybe it's not cool enough to walk around with a 3DS, or rather carrying a gaming console is considered lame among adults and teenagers. I'm not afraid to "be lame", but I think peoples fear for trying something "made for kids" or "geeky" stops them from ever trying out a 3DS so they don't find out if they would have liked it or not. So really, fashion is the problem.

The 3DS should also perhaps be advertised, also outside gaming websites and shops. Nintendo could also have some fancy brand design and sell a pretty leather purse especially made for carrying a 3DS or a 3DS XL. If they managed to get a deal with the right brand, some girls might even buy a 3DS so they had something to put in the purse's 3DS pocket.

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