We've written on a number of occasions, including on its third anniversary, that the 3DS represents a triumph against shifting trends for Nintendo. Traditionally dominant in the portable gaming space, Nintendo's faced arguably its toughest generation to date with the rise of smart device gaming, itself perhaps stripping away a significant proportion of the sizeable DS 'Touch Generation'. Despite those challenges, a poor start and analysis in 2011 that the portable gaming space was no longer sustainable, Nintendo has — to date — made a success of the 3DS family of systems.
With Japan still a vital market for Nintendo, it will be watching sales and trends in the region. Japanese web firm CyberAgent has been looking into total games market value in Nintendo's homeland and seen it grow in the past two years, with much of that growth driven by smartphone markets.
The overall Japanese game market (hardware and software) increased from 2012 to 2013, though that was driven by the smartphone market; according to these figures non-smart device gaming contributed ¥670.5 billion in 2012, as opposed to ¥556.8 billion in 2013. Not only is the smartphone percentage rising, but the value of the conventional market fell last year.
As you can see in the graph below, meanwhile, the smartphone game market is expected to continue to rise in the coming year, with momentum slowing.
Nintendo has already made clear that it's planning to utilise smart devices — through an app or service — to complement and drive consumers to its hardware. With the 3DS now three years old and with time remaining in the market, it'll face continued challenges from the emerging smartphone game market. It can also be argued, of course, that smartphone gaming is having an impact on the home console scene, which is relatively weak at present in the region.