When seeking good news and cause for optimism, Nintendo need look no further than the 3DS. A system that struggled in its early days and was written off in some quarters as out of touch and doomed to failure, it's gone on to combine a lower price, high quality games and more to survive in the post smartphone / tablet world.
It's been on the front foot in Japan for a sustained period now, and in a financial results briefing Satoru Iwata explained that the portable reached around 5.5 million units sales in Japan in 2012, with momentum suggesting a similar achievement this year; only the 3DS and DS have passed that annual milestone in the Japanese market.
In the Western market Iwata-san outlined strong sales and increased market share. With a combination of other transitioning systems losing share and improving 3DS performance, the 3DS accounted for over a quarter of the dedicated gaming market in both Europe and North America, while dominant in Japan.
Europe was given special attention due to differing performance in different countries, and in a positive for the UK — after being cited as a concern in previous briefings — it was mentioned as an area of key improvement with an 8% increase over the last reported period earlier in 2013.
The impact of Pokémon X & Y was also highlighted, with an emphasis on its role in dramatically boosting hardware sales in different territories. With no NPD data for October as yet, the following graph nonetheless shows how hardware sales increased following its release.
In general it was demonstrated that first-party software sales on 3DS are well beyond last year, while it was suggested that consumer feedback around the 2DS indicates a number of new buyers that hadn't previously considered picking up the original systems. The continuing strength of X & Y, allied with the 2DS and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, are key points in giving Nintendo optimism in the Holiday period.
It's been a strong year for the 3DS to date, with improved results around the world. Let us know your thoughts on these results in the comments below.