Tom: Looking at the longer picture, do you think the 3DS will sustain its momentum (which will surely spike with X&Y/Zelda et al) and have a 5-6 year lifespan, or is the current market and advance of rival platforms making that unlikely?
Mike: If Nintendo keep the games coming and the Japanese third parties stay on board — and why wouldn't they, with the sales as they currently are? — I foresee a good few more glorious years in 3DS yet.
Jon: If nothing at all changes then sure, a long life-span is definitely in the cards. Since the industry is in a really strange state of evolution that we can't predict where it'll go, it's really hard to say. I think Nintendo has made a really strong argument for portable dedicated gaming hardware and as long as they can convince people to stick around with quality software I think 3DS will do just fine.
Gaz: Well until Nintendo develop time travel for the anticipated 4DS, they're kinda stuck with what they've got .
Ken: 5-6 years is well within the system's capability, given the numbers it’s posting worldwide right now.
Stephen: I’m a rubbish analyst, but my heart says “the 3DS will go far”. It already has a solid list of games, and that’s taking the rocky start into account. Big-name Nintendo hits will keep it afloat at the very least.
Ron: The only thing that could rival a 3DS is a 3DS with two thumb sticks. Excuse me, Circle Pads.
Ken: Ron has it there - that'll be the next "innovation", and we'll see yet another 3DS version which will extend the platform's life.
Andy: It should easily make six years, by then there'll be more 3DS systems in Japan than the actual amount of people populating the place...
Ken: Nintendo 3DSXLTwoSticks.
Orla: I think we'll get a great 5-6 years out of it, keep bringing out the big guns, Ninty.
Dave: I certainly think the 3DS could have another solid 3 years of life if Nintendo continues doing things the way they are now. Does the console really have any direct hardware competition? It doesn’t seem so to me.
Gaz: 5-6 years is spot on. We're in the best period of the console's lifespan right now, but there's plenty more to come. The console doesn't end with a Pokemon title!
Martin: It's certainly feasible. My only hope is that it doesn't trail off like the DS and Wii did (especially the latter).
Katy: Animal Crossing NL has us set for the next 5-6 years easily!
Morgan: I definitely think so! And like Katy said, I'd be happy to spend the next 5-6 years on New Leaf, personally!
Gaz: We're still waiting for the 3DS's big casual breakthrough.
Tom: Do you feel that the 3DS is missing any key components, still? Miiverse is one, but what about things that aren't confirmed?
Jon: Miiverse is really it. Animal Crossing would be such a better experience.
Dave: Miiverse will make a fantastic addition, though I’m not sure it’ll help sell consoles. I would like to see voice chat become a feature in the near future, although I don’t think it’s a necessity with handhelds this generation. Maybe next.
Ron: The moment I can yell at my 3DS and it'll turn my TV on for me, that when I know it has reached its peak.
Ken: Is Miiverse important?
Katy: Extremely so.
Miiverse is definitely the thing [that's needed], alongside a proper account system across both Wii U and 3DS — it doesn't make sense that you have to buy Virtual Console games twice, for example, when you have cross-buy titles fully active on PS3 / Vita.
Mike: I agree, Miiverse is definitely the thing, alongside a proper account system across both Wii U and 3DS — it doesn't make sense that you have to buy Virtual Console games twice, for example, when you have cross-buy titles fully active on PS3 / Vita. Also, an eShop layout update. And more StreetPass games!
Martin: I know it'd never happen, but I'd love to be able to install my games from the card to the SD card. It'd just make the system even more portable!
And I know you can download the games, but some of us have already built up a big library!
Tom: Swapnote and the friend list will go, and Miiverse will be better, I reckon. Plus it can be a link to Wii U communities, maybe give the console some magic 3DS pixie dust.
Gaz: Installable games would be great, the best of retail and digital in one.
Ken: I would eat my hat if Nintendo made games installable to the SD card, but it’s a nice idea.
I will literally eat a hat. On camera.
Tom: I think you're safe Ken!
Gaz: Overall I'm fairly happy with what we've got right now. Miiverse is the big one for me.
Martin: Come on, Nintendo, you heard the man! Don't let us down!
Stephen: I don’t see any gaping holes. I mostly value my 3DS for its pick-up-and-play appeal; I can be playing a game in seconds. Extra features and functions aren’t high on my priority list.
Ron: Expanded Virtual Console, including N64 games, some type of connectivity between 3DS and Wii U, a cup holder.
Gaz: Rack and peanut steering... (Simpsons reference for you there folks)
Tom: I want more than one letter to show on the folders, and choices of colours. Seriously, I do.
Ron: Yeah, Tom. Better sorting would be great.
Ken: I can't think of a single time where I would have used Miiverse on my 3DS, other than maybe to play Mario Kart 7 with the Nintendo Life clan. But if you say it's important, then fair enough. I think Nintendo have more important things to work on. On other systems. That aren't portable. And that I own and am not happy with.
Orla: A choice of colours would be nice, yeah. And it'd be bliss if N64 games arrived to the VC.
Gaz: I was playing LM2 today and wanted to post to Miiverse, it's quickly becoming engrained in my mind as something I just do while playing.
Tom: It's a gift of Nintendo that we start asking for more VC. Give us old games, you damn fools!
Morgan: Oh man I can't wait for Miiverse on 3DS. Almost every time I play I feel like posting something, and then realize I can't. Anyway, I hope that Miiverse integration comes with a unified Nintendo account system. That is a big one for me! I've had my Wii stolen and Ninty gave me all my downloads back, but it was a pain in the butt during a stressful time and I would've much preferred to just redownload them.
Also, while we're wishing for VC goodness, I'm still holding on for Neo Geo Pocket Colour games!
Ken: I think maybe I'm immune to that as I haven't really been enchanted enough by the Wii U to actually use Miiverse on it for more than 2 minutes.
Katy: Aside from the Miiverse aspect, I reckon the 3DS is perfect just the way it is!
Andy: Yeah, I don't know how I'd fix it to be honest... 3DS XL kind of addressed everything (apart from the extra Circle Pad).
Orla: If it's not broken, don't fix it...
Gaz: I'd quite like that White 3DS XL solo unit that Shibata said would be released in Feb to come out... But that's my personal vendetta.
Ron: I'd love to see a better internet browser. If I need to look something up, I immediately go for my phone rather than my 3DS, even when playing a game on the 3DS that is already in my hands. I'd also like to be able to have multiple applications open at once.
Tom: So we all seem pretty happy with it right now, and are pretty confident about its future. If you had to sum up the system in just five words, what would you say?
Mike: Only just getting started.
Gaz: Less TV than Xbox One?
Martin: Getting better all the time.
Ken: I want it in purple.
Andy: A simply brilliant little console!
Stephen: Doing what Nintendo does best.
Tom: Saved by the price cut (engages flame shield).
Jon: It's been a strange ride.
Orla: Perfect portable for the pocket!
Andy: It's more fun than gardening.
Gaz: Only console with Kid Icarus (Uprising).
Ron: It's perfect for portable fun!
Morgan: Best thing in my backpack!
Andy: Fire Emblem: Awakening - enough said.
Katy: Needs some more Level-5 loving.
Ron: Altered Beast. Japan wins.
Dave: Best system on the market.
Tom: How about everyone name their favourite 3DS game right now...
Jon: You can't make me!
Ron: Code of Princess? Or Super Mario 3D Land.
Ken: Fire Emblem Awakening - by far.
Stephen: Not counting the Ocarina of Time remake, that would be Fire Emblem: Awakening. It’s actually my favourite game since Skyrim!
Orla: Right now? Luigi's Mansion 2. Overall, Ocarina of Time 3D until LttP2 is out...
Gaz: Kid Icarus: Uprising.
Morgan: Style Savvy!
Andy: I won't even bother telling you what my favourite game is…
Katy: Animal Crossing NL!
Ron: Andy is a big Gummy Bear fan.
Ken: Is it Imagine Party Horsez, Andy?
Martin: I'm going to have to go with Luigi's Mansion 2 for the moment!
Gaz: Andy's favourite game is DSiWare Mario Calculator.
Andy: I can't get enough of Gummy algebra!
Tom: I'll go for Super Mario 3D Land, I can't help it, to hell with the critics.
Gaz: I still rank 3D Land as the worst Mario game (sorry Tom!)
Dave: Miracle Mask is probably my favourite overall, being my first Layton game, but Uprising is my jam right now.
Ken: When they bring out a game based on Columbo, it'll be the best console ever made. Until then, the Dreamcast wins for me!
Gaz: He was in Lego City!
Ken: Doesn't count.
Katy: That's it, I'm ordering Fire Emblem. Right now.
Ken: DO IT
Ron: DL it from the eShop!
Andy: I knew I'd get you eventually Katy! Yes, I already see it as one of the best ever consoles.
Tom: There's a final question. I've seen community posts and chat about "10 years from now we'll look back at the 3DS as one of the great consoles". Do you agree?
Morgan: Definitely! I already see it as one of the greats, and I think it'll always have a special place in our hearts!
Mike: I don't think I'll look back on it as fondly as DS based on its life so far, but I've no doubt it'll have carved out a nice little hole in my memory when all's said and done.
Katy: I think the DS innovated the handheld gaming sector, but the 3DS refined and defined it.
Orla: I agree, of course!
Gaz: After the DS, I always said the 3DS would be hard-pressed to beat it. But at current pace it's beginning to overtake it. After this year we can talk best ever, but by the looks of it, yes it will be; it needs Advance Wars to beat the DS).
Martin: I think we'll look back on it in a very positive light, so long as it continues to impress!
Jon: If it keeps up this momentum then it certainly has the potential.
Dave: Absolutely – I can confidently say that it’s already my favourite handheld console of all time and I even prefer it to a couple current home consoles – won’t mention any names!
Ken: I think it will be, yes, although it hasn't had as much of an impact on the industry as previous handhelds.
Stephen: I honestly think the 3DS will be remembered as a legitimate great. It already has several legendary games, and if all goes well, it’s just getting started.
Ron: 10 years from now I will look back and see it as one of the best, but I'm not sure about the gaming community as a whole. I still feel like there's a huge market of gamers who don't understand it, or they think it’s gimmicky. It has, without a doubt, some of the best games from the current generation, but I don't know that enough people appreciate it.
Andy: I agree with Katy! 3DS is like a fine wine!
Ken: Agreed with Gaz, Advance Wars is required!
And the ratio of dross to quality in the software library is extremely high, as it was with the DS, and the Wii. If people overlook that, then it'll be one of the greats.
So there are some of our team's thoughts on the system right now. There's plenty to think about, so by all means sound off in the comments section below.