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Talking Point: Pokémon X & Y Provide a Timely Boost for 3DS in the West

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

The DS era is left behind

The biggest release on DS in 2012, and surely the runaway winner of practically every Game of the Year award specifically tailored for the older handheld, were the Pokémon Black & White 2 titles, tied together for the purposes of simplicity. Yet its announcement and release on the platform surprised a number of gamers who wondered why a sequel was being released on Nintendo's last-generation handheld. The answer was simple, because it would make a bundle of cash, but its release also reinforced the continuing legacy of the original DS family that was clinging on and, arguably, being a bit of a nuisance and distracting some consumers towards older systems above the shinier alternative — let's not forget that DS models outsold 3DS equivalents in the recent US Black Friday sales. Today's announcement of Pokémon X & Y will leave no such doubt, with its October release ensuring that the 3DS will now pick up the mantle for the main series.

Of course, anyone reading this article will know that 3DS is backward compatible with DS games, but it was nevertheless strange — despite practical reasons — to see one of the biggest releases of 2012 arrive on DS over 18 months after its successor hit the market. Nintendo itself stated — in its second quarter financial briefing — that Black & White 2 "raised the sales level of the Nintendo 3DS hardware", which no doubt helped towards a 3DS hardware sales total for that quarter (April to the end of September) of just over five million worldwide. They were good but not monstrous figures, yet it's surely the case that many with a good-old DS who were on the fence about upgrading to 3DS happily snapped up the new entry without a thought to upgrading. Backward compatibility is great, but with DS being the biggest-selling gaming system of all time there are enough of them in the wild to play a new DS game, without that purchase choice between the veteran system and the newer handheld being an issue.

What's truly extraordinary, however, is the recorded sales figures that we know about for Pokémon Black & White 2. If anything was going to test the enduring popularity of the franchise, surely a sequel on a system long-since replaced would do just that. If you're not bothered about figures, just know that the title performed brilliantly, though as would be expected not to the level of the original which was released while DS was still in its pomp. Here are the figures though, so skip to the next paragraph if this bores you. Up to the end of September 2012, with the game out in Japan since late June 2012 and yet to arrive in the West, Nintendo reported a total of 4.26 million sales — 2.84 million in Japan and 1.42 million in other territories. That means that over 1.4 million pre-orders were clocked, while New Super Mario Bros. 2 had equivalent figures of 1.31 million sales in Japan and 1.95 million in other territories. That combined total is 3.25 million, just over one million short of the Black & White 2 figure despite the fact it had been out in Japan — within those quarter's results — for two months and in other territories for six weeks; those are solid sales, no pre-orders to be added.

Some may say "so what, Pokémon out-performed Mario in that period", but it's an interesting comparison between two numbered sequels. Black & White 2's release on DS could also be argued two ways; it arrived on an ageing handheld that has been replaced, but that also meant it had the user-base of two systems to tap into. Mario's adventure had only one platform to shoot at, while there were undeniable murmurings from some within Nintendo gaming communities that it was perhaps a disappointing entry, though plenty also enjoyed it. In a face-off a last-generation Pokémon sequel was winning, and the admittedly sketchy current figures on VGChartz suggest that sales at the end of 2012 were roughly 6.14 million units for Black & White 2, 30% of which were in North America.

It's against this context, and evidence that Pokémon may be usurping Mario as Nintendo's most bankable franchise — currently second behind the plumber in terms of all-time sales on the big N's systems — that today's announcement of Pokémon X & Y is such a big deal, potentially, for the worldwide fortunes of the 3DS. While the handheld has been enjoying an exceptional period of success in Japan, sales elsewhere have been quiet in terms of big headlines; an earnings update at the end of January from Nintendo should reveal third quarter results, and we expect solid but unspectacular figures for North America and Europe. Yet a full-on main series Pokémon entry, as the excitement here on Nintendo Life and the hype around the web is showing, is big news to gamers of all nationalities, not just those in Japan. From our brief glimpse so far we can see that it moves the series into a 3D environment, after rigidly sticking to a top-down viewpoint on more restrictive hardware, while the potential of utilising the 3DS' various features promises exciting connectivity and sharing opportunities.

When you consider the western releases of Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Fire Emblem: Awakening, with games such as Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon and Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate also on the way, we're starting to see a line-up poised to boost the 3DS outside of Nintendo's homeland. The presence of Pokémon X & Y and Monster Hunter 4 will likely see to the handheld's continued decimation of rival systems in the Land of the Rising Sun, but we're possibly seeing the start of a big worldwide push for the system in 2013. Perhaps most refreshing for those that feel a certain mascot was over-exposed in various guises in 2012, none of those hot titles mention the name of Mario. Other franchises are coming out to play.

The Pokémon franchise could be exactly what 3DS needs, as it progresses from being the shiny new handheld on the scene to an established market presence. Nintendo needs sales and enthusiasm worldwide to at least approach the equivalent buzz in Japan, and today's announcement not only brings a hugely popular series into an era of fresh possibilities, but could lead to a new dimension of popularity for 3DS in Europe and North America.

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User Comments (85)



Denkou said:

Honestly, I am ecstatic that Pokemon is finally making the jump to 3D. We haven't had a true 3D game since xd: gale of darkness/ It's great to see that the main series is going in that direction. It's also about time Ninty released a main series pokemon game for the 3DS. So psyched for this!



Drawdler said:

Utterly ecstatic about this game. I saw how Ninty decided to be sneaky and make sure the a wider audience knew about the game- so that more 3DS systems will finally sell...



Auracle said:

Mario for the 3DS had the popularity, though lacked some of the quality perhaps (3D Land barring). Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing are going to be great games, but are not as well known. Pokemon has both popularity and quality. This could potentially make it a real game-changer for the 3DS.



SanderEvers said:

I can't possibly tell you HOW much I want this game.

It looks really awesome. I loved every Pokémon main RPG to date (and most of the spin-offs) and I will surely BUY this game.

The Fire starter looks cool too



DePapier said:

Wow... Now I understand why you (Thomas Whitehead) are the one "rustling the NL staff together." That was a fine article and an interesting read.



luminalace said:

While NSMB has now outsold Pokemon B&W2, X and Y will surpass both easily. Many DS owners will finally upgrade. 2013 is going to be a huge year for 3DS.



Zach777 said:

@luminalace and @Machamp_King and 2020 is going to be an astonishingly excellent year topped with stellar games and everything!!!!

In all seriousness though, 2013 is looking to be a really great year for the 3DS. I mean, talk about the wallet surge... Fire Emblem: awakening, Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, Etrian Odyssey IV, Poke'Mon X/Y, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Brain Age: Concentration Training, AND who knows what else may or may not be announced later this year. The eShop will probably have some nice new additions as well... Mutant Mudds 2, Mega Man VC games..... oh..... snap.



C7_ said:

Okay, so the water one's a frog and the fire one's a fox, and the grass one is a thing with mole feet and flippers with buck teeth...?



DreamyViridi said:

It's probably best that I don't have this on my mind too much; I mean it's awesome to look forward to but 9 months is a long way away if I constantly have it in mind, y'know?



Marakuto said:

I'm going to apply for a 2nd job so that I get more 3DS games and this to get victims online in full 3D.



Xilef said:

MH3U, FE:A, AC:NL and this. Awesome year for the 3DS. Hoping for a Kirby or Zelda 3DS at E3 and this year would be perfect.



ShadJV said:

Perfect time for the 3DS jump, the system is finally getting a real install base, and this will hopefully convert any Pokemaniacs who have yet to upgrade. So stoked for the 3D graphics, especially in battles, (the 3DS is a good excuse to make that plunge), I just hope there are a lot of other new features too! Maybe we can finally get one or two new types? Either way, this is most likely an instabuy for me.



MasterWario said:

Agreed. I'm also trying to remain un-hyped for Pikmin 3. I was way too hyped up for Super Mario Galaxy 2 when it was about to come out and I spent too much time watching trailers.



Lunapplebloom said:

Just saw the trailer, and color me impressed. It's good to see that they are finally going with the 3D model route for this one with the leap in graphical capabilities. Also that they get released the same time is also a big step in the right direction for the series. Having that initial experience with multiple countries at the same time was totally unexpected.



Void said:

I'll wait untill I see the Starters eveloutions too mark them as the ugliest starters, but thats where the Grass and Water ones stand for me right now.
@C7 ... I thought it was a monkey.



MrWalkieTalkie said:

Those new starters are just bursting with color, design, and imagination! Its gonna be so hard to pick this time!



PokeMario said:

Can't wait for these games. Them being far away is a good thing, my wallet's gonna take some serious damage from all the upcoming game releases.



Phle said:

Well, I have to admit, I got my first Nintendo console (and first console all together) the Nintendo DS Lite ONLY because I wanted to play Pokémon Diamond & Pearl. If it wasn't for those games, I might never have bought any Nintendo consoles. If there still are Pokémon fans, there will be 3DS console buyers.



GuardianKing said:

@True_Hero It's not that Pokemon is a game of exceptional quality, but more because its game you can't really mess up badly unless you screw over everything you've established so far. Pokemon is the best example of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" in the gaming industry.

That said, I am super hyped for this I nerded all over the floor when I saw this this morning.



Auracle said:

@Chrysalis - Yeah, I guess I meant that it will attract both new and old players alike. I could have worded what I meant better. But yes, I am super hyped for this game.



Aqueous said:

Ugly overworld and the most ugly Grass and Water starters I've seen. Well I'll take that gorgeous fox starter and hope the overworld looks sharper in 3D. Oh and X

Edit: Almost forgot. YAY FOR NO DRAGON COVER LEGENDARIES! Sorry but all the dragons were annoying me.



Drobotic said:

I felt that it was IT when Black and White 2 came out in 2012,more than a year after the 3DS was released.In my opinion,the original Black and White should have been delayed so it could at least have 3D effects and full-screen.



Vehemont said:

Sounds good and all but im not certain on the look of the starters...(Though I usually think that about every new gen after Red and Blue, it just takes me awhile to warm up to them..)



NintyMan said:

Because of this announcement, I haven't been this excited about Pokemon in a very long time. I haven't been that big into the series since its original days, but X and Y seem to be unique enough for me to return. They'll be a boost to the 3DS without a doubt and may finally give the other regions outside Japan a chance to do better.



Pikachupwnage said:

There should be a single 3DS mario this year.

This years lineup on 3DS beats Vita and 3DS Lineups last year combined(even with persona and kid icarus in the mix)

Harmoknight, Denpa men 2, pokemon XY, animal crossing, pokemon mystery dungeon, fire emblem, brain age and luigis mansion for 3DS, as first/second parties go and no doubt a couple holiday games will be shown at E3.

Third parties are giving us monster hunter, etrain oddessey, Naruto powerful shippuden, Castlevania, Yatagarasu, 1001 spikes, aeteno blade, Nano assault EX, Shantae etc.

Plus these unconfirmed games are all but confirmed

Senran kagura burst
Dragon quest monsters terry's wonderland 3D
Bravely default flying fairy
Rune factory 4



KingDunsparce said:

Wow this is kind of like a first-person Pokemon game I saw a while ago. This might be the first Pokemon game I buy in a while.



pntjr said:

Growing up I never played a Pokemon game (super religious parents) but I'm happy this is coming to the 3DS. So many kids out there are saving up money in their piggy banks for a new 3DS with X & Y!

So honestly, what's a Vita again?



Sean_Aaron said:

Well I had thought I could hold off on getting my daughter a 3DS for another year, but clearly not!



gekslupis said:

A direct sequel to a pokemon game, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon in March and now the next generation in october. This is a good year to be pokemon fan.

I can't wait to find out what the fire starter evolves into



Chuie said:

omg this is soo awsome i love the froggie :3 i think this is a good move



Emaan said:

Pokemon: the game-changer. Time for 3DS to get a boost. Something tells me it will be super effective!



bob1994 said:

I'm wondering if the new region will be based off of France. In the Nintendo Direct video, Pikachu was on top of the Eiffel Tower, and there is a structure that looks similar to the Eiffel Tower in the gameplay footage.



Jumpman said:

I'm so excited for Pokemon's first foray into 3D but how in the world will any sane person catch 'em all when the Pokedex total will be over at least 750?!?



HYDRA413 said:

Would be nice that Nintendo try to release RED and BLUE on eSHOP to accompany this game.



Gridatttack said:

Now that I see the trailer, its seems ok...
Thought I dont like how the NPC and the player looks...
Also I guess I will choose again the grass starter



Contrary said:

My predictions for their fully evolved forms:
Grass starter: Grass/Ground
Fire starter: Fire/Psychic
Water starter: Water/Flying (look at the cloud he's got around his neck)



AceTrainerBean said:

I am unbelievably buzzing for this game been play since blue and red and to see the man series in 3D is just amazing!



Prof_Clayton said:

This looks really good; I know 3 people who are buying a 3DS just for this.
As for this being the most bankable franchise, it could be true. However, whenever I ask a Non-Nintendo player what their favorite Nintendo series is; it's Zelda.



scrubbyscum999 said:

The starters already look better than what they had 5th generation, that ALONE shows this might mean I have to jump out of my break from pokemon during 5th generation. This is when 3DS sales will spike. Plenty of people, scratch that, a TON of people buy these portable Nintendo systems for pokemon ALONE.



2Sang said:

I think they learned their lesson on not being able to transfer pokemon, otherwise RSE may have sold thousands of more copies and hardcore fans being upset, despite RS being the #1 sold GBA title. I lost faith in the series for that generation because Red was my first game and I had a bond with my pokemon, and I know others were very sad as well in similar situations.



Alpha2797 said:

I can't wait for this! I'm probably going to get Pokemon Y....or maybe both...not sure which one but the Y legendary look epic. The starters look cool as well. Depending on the evolutions, depends on which I'm going to choose. I'm glad that Pokemon is FINALLY headed to the 3DS.



Hokori said:

@IAmNotWill Kanto, Jhoto, Hoenn, Sinnoh, and a couple of spin offs are based on real places in Japan including in game land marks, only home console titles and Black/White series were based off of other countries, in this case USA
(XD and Colloseum were based off of Arizona)



DarkNinja9 said:

i still hate the fact that its a deer legendary <.< ugh so many already dont think we need more but anyway i dont feel as excited as i was for black and white but the fire started looks nice finally another good fire started since cyndaquil

it still seems early for me to jump to gen 6 though...



MagicEmperor said:

Am I the only one who actually thinks Froakie is cute? Seriously, that thing is just charming!



Lalivero said:

@Void Yeah, with the mirror bit in the trailer, a lot of people think customisation will finally be added into the main games; I personally hope it goes beyond just clothes if it is indeed true, but it'd still be a refreshing change either way.



Bassman_Q said:

Well, if I were to pick the Fire starter, I would just HAVE to name him/her Mozilla.

In all seriousness, the more I look at the starters, the more I like them. I think I'll buy Pokemon Y and pick the Grass starter, Chespin. Seriously, he's so adorable!



MrSaturn677 said:

With announcements like this, 2013 will be a fantastic year for 3DS. I, for one, am extremely pumped!



Pichuka97 said:

This means nintendo can actually have real dlc and add pokemon to the game. YES!!



vegeta044 said:

And this is why I wanted my 3DS so bad, I am super excited. I actually bought multiple 3DS consoles in order to play this game yay



GamerFromJump said:

Please Nintendo, for the love of god, include a "New Game Plus" option this time! It would be nice to not need a whole second 3DS to play the game more than once, while still preserving the Pokemon caught. Also, please release to the eShop. I live abroad, and would thus have to have a copy shipped ($$$).



RotYN7 said:

With This coming out and Fire Emblem, coupled with the Already insane Sales of the 3DS worldwide N is sitting pretty when it comes to there handheld.



GreenDream said:

Wow, Game Freak... I thought the "polar opposite" naming convention couldn't get any worse than the obvious "Black" and "White"... but "X", "Y", and probably "Z", in the future? Beyond lame...

In any case, we'll have to see if this is the next generation for me to divest more than 100 hours into... I have only done that with generation 1 and 2; I skipped 3 and 5, and 4 lasted me 100 hours...

The starters are STILL stuck in the age old [fire > grass > water > fire] convention, instead of [fighting > dark/evil > psychic/light > fighting], with the storyline and events changing based on your starter, or something like that... at least the starters look better than gen 5's... maybe more of the creature designs will actually look like Pokemon instead of things this time around...



X-Conor-X said:

Pokemon Y all the way. The deer-like legendary look utterly ridiculous. Also, am I the only one who heard the name "Screecharine" on a pokemon spoof episode of Johnny test, and thought it was a shame that name wasn't a real pokemon's name It would fit in perfectly. >3>

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