It wasn't that long ago that we had a rather encouraging 3DS Nintendo Direct, even if the short term memory of some means it may as well have been a decade ago. The reaction to it was generally positive, a reward for the fact that Nintendo revealed some genuine surprises, including two ports of Wii U games and a new Pikmin game. We shared the opinion that the Direct established the role of the 3DS for 2017, catering to a userbase in the tens of millions and, potentially, winning over a decent number of late adopters.
Though most seemed pleased with Nintendo's efforts, two prevailing threads of comments were also common. There were the usual 'where is NX / reveal NX / we only care about NX' thoughts shared online, but frankly we're not getting into that right now. Some, rather reasonably, were also sharing the view that the 3DS Direct served as a death-knell for the Wii U. That's this writer's instinct too, though to be blunt the Wii U was largely dropped by Nintendo a good while ago, as we see in the limited number of big N games still coming to the system, and the fact it's projected to ship less than a million units this financial year.
Naturally there's an inclination to ask why Nintendo continues to invest effort into extending the 3DS lifespan while seemingly letting the Wii U quietly drift away; the answer's easy. It's all about the numbers.
First of all we have sales. The 3DS 'family' had hit 59.79 million sales as of 30th June, with five million being the latest estimate for units shipped this financial year. Granted, that's well short of the record-breaking DS, but it's still been Nintendo's success story in this generation and a vital product for scraping together modest profits. The Wii U has only managed 13.02 million units since November 2012, and is expected to ship 800,000 units this financial year. As a result, sadly, the Wii U simply doesn't have a userbase to drive substantial software sales - Mario Kart 8 leads on the home console with 7.7 million units sold (impressively well over half of the console's sales) which would only get it 8th place in the 3DS list. Granted the 3DS has had over 18 months extra time on the market, but by any metric its been far more successful than the Wii U.
Another factor is that the 3DS is still a relevant product at retail, with enough of a userbase and interest from the public to still have a decent presence in stores. The system's New 3DS XL model continues to lead in Japan, while 3DS titles still appear regularly in the UK charts, as one example in Europe.
Also of interest is that the handheld is enjoying a renaissance in the US, with factors such as a 2DS price drop and Pokémon GO buzz helping it along. It was the best-selling hardware in the country in July (with Monster Hunter Generations also doing quite well), and though it didn't hold top spot in August it maintained its positive momentum. Software sales for the likes of Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire were up year-on-year, and even Wii U software was 30% up. The 3DS hardware was the story, though - the family of systems was up 83% over the August 2015 figures, with the 2DS seeing a jump of 500%. A mix of new Nintendo Selects offerings (which may have also helped those Wii U sales), Pokémon hype, hardware bundles and the affordable 2DS (dropped to $79.99 in the US) have the portable gaining momentum in some territories, or doing reasonably well elsewhere.
It's pleasing to see, and also shows how games and capturing an audience are more important than a system's technological prowess or power. In a recent talking point we wrote about Nintendo battling for gamer time as well as loyalty, and one way it can win that battle is through unique game libraries aligned to affordable, popular systems. The 3DS is proof of this - its games may pump out modest visuals, but they're often unique to the portable, high in gameplay quality and entertaining.
Another set of numbers that have likely encouraged Nintendo to keep the 3DS ticking into 2017 - and perhaps a little beyond - relate to development costs. The 3DS architecture is somewhat quirky and challenging, which helps to explain why (outside of a handful of Unity games on New 3DS) the portable's eShop is flooded with less 'Nindie' games than the Wii U on a weekly basis. Yet that's not a major issue for Nintendo and studios familiar with the handheld's infrastructure (obviously), and it doesn't pose the challenges of HD development that plagued the big N in the early Wii U days, for example. We've seen some excellent games turned around using established engines and resources, with same-gen sequels such as Fire Emblem Fates and Kirby: Planet Robobot. We'd also bet good money that bashing out a 2D Pikmin for 3DS is far less resource-intensive than the process was for producing Pikmin 3. Add in a couple of Wii U ports with Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS and Poochy and Yoshi's Woolly World, and Nintendo is finding quick wins.
Of course, the expectation is that Pokémon Sun and Moon will be a big hit in November and into 2017, while some further localisations (with Nintendo perhaps pitching in and helping with publishing) could bring some key third-party games to the West next year - examples could include Dragon Ball: Fusions, Lady Layton and Monster Hunter Stories. Beyond games, Nintendo also has some new limited editions and bundles out recently or on the way to tempt buyers in; there's still time for more of these to be announced, too.
Keeping the 3DS alive deep into 2017 makes sense from a broader business perspective, ultimately. The systems should be cheaper than ever to manufacture, the New 3DS and 2DS models can all be pitched as budget gaming devices at their own respective levels, and an audience that may not leap on NX on day one can be kept interested.
Overall, it's clear that the 3DS has life in it yet. It may be rocking ageing technology and lack the freshness it once had, but it's still evidently an important part of Nintendo's short to medium term future. As long term fans and defenders of the handheld, we're rather pleased that's the case.
I will Stil buy Quality 3ds games! I love my 3ds and it fits in my pocket for travelling to Japan! Yay!
I don't mind that Nintendo continues 3DS support given that the Wii U is dead.
I think one thing is that "aging hardware" doesn't matter a whole lot when the 3DS is in its own bubble competitively. The Vita never caught on, and the diehards don't want mobile games. So Nintendo can release games to a quasi-captive audience and expect good numbers.
Sometimes they abuse this power with stuff like Federation Force (whether it's a good or bad game--and I think it's "good" for what it's worth--it isn't what the fans wanted), but overall I'm looking forward to the final (?) stretch of the 3DS. Still hope to see EOV at some point, and that Mario sports collection looks like exactly what I've always wanted but never expected to get.
3ds sales are too strong. They cant really believe that all 3ds owner will get rid of their systems and embrace the nx. 3ds games will sell well even after the nx has come out.
It makes sense that Nintendo would continue to support the 3DS. It has a huge install base and the games sell at a great amount (most of the time). People ask why their still supporting the system with the NX arriving, but we still don't know if it will be portable, home console, or the rumored hybrid.
Plus, the system is WAY TOO STABLE to be dropped.
I have a wii u and 3ds but love my 2ds. I got it used but damn it feels strong like a rock. More and more people are spending less time home and more time at work, public transport so you can see why more people are investing in the hand held.
Plus the library of games is like that of the Super Nintendo
@yannah21 that's true. It get stability improvements every month
I'd really like Nintendo to keep supporting the 3DS for a year or two after the NX comes out. I STILL want a proper new 2D Metroid. even a remake of the first one would be welcome and the 3DS is perfect for that stuff!
I'm just here for "doomed"?
While there was no official PR this month, it's likely that an upsurge in 2DS sales contributed a major portion to this month's sales as well. The 2DS has gained good word of mouth and consumer awareness, and it seems that people who played Pokemon Go and then wanted a handheld device to play more Pokemon, opted for 2DS in the majority. It's the best device for playing Nintendo's current-gen handheld games, and the most affordable too, so 2DS's relative success isn't surprising.
I like the low resolution of the 3DS display, it feels like I'm playing a gaming handheld. I like seeing a mosaic quality to game visuals, 'jaggies', as it were. But of course I'm in an old school minority and people are eager to push the seams of technology into an invisible background, wanting for something that's more lifelike than gamelike by my definition
The article's title should instead be "Nintendo's Abandonment of the Wii U Makes Sense".
It's true about 3DS but Nintendo's abandonment of the Wii U is a sore point. The console was only really supported by Nintendo for 3 years, by 3rd parties, for only 6 months before most abandoned it. This last year has been diabolical with largely terrible games, that's when there is even a release to speak of. Wii U owners haven't had an original Zelda, we've had to wait an age for it and it got another massive delay because of NX. They've moved games like Pikmin 4(that Miyamoto himself said was close to finished) from Wii U to NX. We're missed out on entire franchises this generation. They've killed the Wii U and now they expect us to fork out money for the NX after treating us so badly.
I've thought several times that when the NX arrives, Wii U owners should be eligible for an Ambassador programme similar to what the initial owners of 3DS were entitled to.
But just because the Wii U isn't selling is no excuse for not supporting it on the eshop, My Nintendo, etc.
I'll be actively rocking my 3DS for at least a few more years. It has an amazing library, thanks in no small part to unprecedented levels of support from Atlus.
After the reading the piece and the comments, feels like this could have been titled -
Stating the Obvious: Nintendo Continues To Make 3DS Games So It Can Pay It's Bills (And We Would Rather Be Writing About NX But There's Nothing About NX To Write About And We Have Bills To Pay Too)
Off topic question.
To those who know about WiiU External Harddrives. I got a error code 104 on my WiiU and after that my harddrive won't start up anymore. It will do clicking sounds and not turn on anymore. Is there anyway I can fix it. I really can't lose all that save data.
Yeah, mario sports could be awesome ☺
Same with me
Still havent played all of my ds games
@SLIGEACH_EIRE Wii U still we faired better than a lot of consoles for titles released. Especially if you throw in the virtual console library, but yes it seems like the past year Nintendo has only reluctantly supported the console. They could have done so much more with eShop sized titles for one.
Yeah, its not really nice. Considering I bought myself another wii u because I own lots of wii an wii u games its really a mess this console has been mostly abandoned. Still, are you not going to buy an nx?
3DS is a successful product with a large installed base. 3DS games are relatively cheap to produce and thus do not require as many units sold to turn a profit as HD titles do. Nintendo can keep turning out 3DS games without committing too much of its development staff. Thus, 3DS provides Nintendo with an excellent legacy product to help drive profits while Nintendo ramps us the installed base for NX.
Wii U games are HD. Much higher budgets required. Much larger development teams required. Due to the low installed base many of those games will struggle to make any money. This is the exact logic that Sony used when they announced that they would no longer produce ANY first party AAA games for the Vita. They made that decision after 2.5 years of support and by the time they actually said it officially the first party games were already down to a trickle.
I understand why Wii U owners are unhappy. I also understand why Nintendo cannot continue to make games for the Wii U.
Didnt the first ine get a remake with zero mission?
@Darknyht Agreed. Some better VC support would have helped greatly. But Nintendo doesn't seem to care enough to support the WiiU with anything at this point.
What hurts is that I applauded Nintendo a couple years ago for delivering some of the best games in their iconic series as a means to keep the Wii U thriving, but now they just aren't even bothering with the thing. They aren't abandoning it altogether like Sony did with the PS Vita, but limiting their releases only to have Color Splash surface in the schedule is practically just as bad.
@Andrzej777 I am annoyed and I swore I wouldn't buy it at launch after all the problems of Wii U but I'll probably be first in line come launch day like every Nintendo console right back to the SNES.
I think the NX will play 3DS games so that's why they'll keep releasing games for that during 2017.
Admittedly my 3DS hasn't been getting much use lately because I'm trying to clear out some of the older games in my backlog (Wii, GBA, DS). I still have plenty of 3DS games to play, so the system will keep me busy for some time. Plus, there are still plenty of games (released and upcoming) that I need to buy.
I love my Wii U, and it'll keep me busy for some time yet as well (I only picked it up last summer, tbh). However, it's pretty obvious that the system is at Death's Door in terms of support.
New Pikmin is all I need to be happy in 2017, and I still have tons of good games to sink my teeth into. So if I wanted to, I could keep myself busy for at least a year just on good Nintendo 3DS games alone. I am very pleased with Nintendo's decision to release more games on the system, remakes or not.
Same with me! There was a time that I thought I am not gonna buy it at all. Too many annoyances by nintendo
I will however not buy it at launch. I want to see what it really is first and what kibd of games appear. Probably after some time I will buy it.
I love Rpgs and the 3ds is getting lots of them. FE, Stella Glow, Bravely Default and Second, DQVII, M&L PJ, ect.
I wish the WiiU would have gotten more RPG love but I'm overall happy with my purchase of my WiiU. Its kept me gaming happy unlike my Ps4.
Interesting factoid: Did you guys know that the GameBoy Micro (2005) was the last non-clamshell handheld before the 2DS (2013) came out?
PS: The GameBoy Advance SP (2003) was the first handheld that Nintendo released with a clamshell design.
Just felt a little informative there.
Of course it makes sense from a business standpoint, but for people like me that prefer to play on the big screen it is kind of disappointing. Regardless I don't blame Nintendo for supporting the money maker of the two but at this point I am craving some new and exciting tech, which the NX looks to be able to provide. I once considered the 3DS as my personal favorite system of all time and still do for the most part, I just think it is time to move on since it has been over five years now, six by the time the NX comes out. The handheld will no doubt go down as an exceptional system, arguably boasting a library as great as the SNES!
I love handhelds. I love Nintendo.
There, the article's title (and point) explained right away.
I don't mind as I rarely boot up my WiiU anymore.
Have more than 120 retail 3DS games as well as around 50 eShop titles, so no shortage whatsoever.
The 3ds was a decent system for sure but let's be real. Its library has been seeing less and less support from the big N and it's clear the NX is going to be a unified platform so I don't really care at this point what happens as they have been pretty transparent in the fact they've moved onto the NX
@rjejr nailed it! 😉
They should at least support it as long as they supported the DS. It's a great handheld with a good library of games.
@Andrzej777 Yeah, more golf AND full 11-a-side football/soccer? Just for that, I can't wait!
I still want my 3ds to last another say 2 to 3 years. I've got so much else to play on it then alone future games. Keep um coming Nintendo and Atlus!
The 3DS has no real competition in it's field, and a good customer base that still use the system. It makes sense to support it.
The Wii U is a fine little console that's underowned with no interest from the rest of the market. It makes sense there isn't much coming to it.
Now what's the PS4 and XB1's excuses for having little to look forward to this Christmas?
@Megas I really hope the NX can play Ds and 3Ds games!
It's interesting to see just how much Pokémon Go has impacted 2DS sales. In the past, the 2DS would often only account for around ~10% of total 3DS hardware sales, even with two official price cuts. With recent statistics from Nintendo, it appears that the 2DS may potentially account for ~40% of total 3DS hardware sales, which is absolutely massive (Note that the 2DS still hasn't been released in Japan, outside of a very limited shipment to celebrate Pokémon's 20th anniversary).
I'm sure Nintendo is looking at the 2DS's resurgence and wondering if and/or how they can figure out a way to release a sub-$/£100 version of the NX, without the NX's main gimmick, to aggressively target casual mobile gamers, much like what the 2DS is doing right now.
@SLIGEACH_EIRE There aren't enough angry Wii U owners to make a negative impact on NX sales. There aren't even enough indifferent Wii U owners to make an impact. I guarantee most Wii U owners will upgrade to NX.
The fact that Nintendo keeps supporting the 3DS, really makes you wonder just what the NX can do.
I adore the 3ds as my purchase of 6 of them can attest to, however I would like to see Nintendo sunset the system. It is getting long in the tooth and with Sony bowing out of the handheld market Nintendo could make a more powerful successor and capitalize on the orphan franchises. I don't pay attention to rumors so I'm not currently banking on the NX to be that replacement; however if they did at least make it compatible with 3ds games on TV I would be easily swayed into buying one day one. I also think a successor is a good time to possibly rope in XL players with the faceplate market, which like amiibo is another side source of revenue.
The 3DS is pretty spectacular! It's a shame the Wii U never took off but it seemed to be 'doomed' from the very beginning, starting with it's lame name.
@Andrzej777 it did I totally forgot about that ahah maybe a remake of 2 that'd even be more appropriate since it was a Game Boy game originally
@SLIGEACH_EIRE They've killed the Wii U and now they expect us to fork out money for the NX after treating us so badly.
The reality is an overarching majority of people will display their reluctance to trust Nintendo by securing an NX as soon as preorders go live to have it on launch. I don't have a Wii U (never really wanted one) and I hear you but most consumers complain all the way to the cash register (and is also a reason why companies get away with ill practices as much as they do).
Hey Sony! you could have made the PS Vita just as successful as the Nintendo 3DS is right now... but nope, all that system will ever be remembered for is Persona 4 Golden.
I would be happy if Nintendo were to put a lot of effort into marketing the New models and then supported it for another 2 or 3 years. The 3DS is just a fantastic machine and I will love it till the end of time.
@liljmoore Clicking sounds are usually a bad sign, but I had the same problem once and it turned out that the hard drive was still working but the USB controller was broken. So you can try to open the case, remove the hard drive and the put it in a new case.
On Topic: I really liked some of the stuff they showed at the direct and after getting burned with the Wii U I probably won't buy the NX at launch so it's nice to get new stuff for 3DS in 2017.
@AlphaJaguar Which is a pity, as the Vita has a spectacular library in its own right.
I'm all for more top quality 3ds games. This year has been terrific so far.
Pikmin, Ever Oasis, Mario Sports Superstars, EO V (I hope...EO Untold III hopefully as well), Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns...already at least five games I'm looking forward to in 2017. 2017 is going to be a great year for me and my 3DS!
I don't know for certain yet, but the 3ds might be my favorite gaming system ever, and it's for sure, in my top 3 (along with SNES and PS2).
@countzero thanks for the info man
I'm glad they're holding on to it, at least for the moment. An issue that I haven't heard much at all since the "hybrid system" chatter started is the fact that households typically share one console, but individuals have their own portables.
@lilredkoopa Possibly, we are mostly the hardcore fans afterall.
Well, this article bases on the premise of a promise made by Nintendo.
Nintendo even said NX will exist along 3DS AND Wii U and its pretty clear Wii U is already winded down entirely and 1st Party output on 3DS is rather thin and feels pretty fillery.
I think Big N is very focused on NX now and they need it to be a success and very likely will get behind it with all their might.
I think Nintendo likes money, the 3DS is still printing it so of course they will continue to support it. fin.
Yeah, it's sold 60 million units and is still going pretty strong from what I cant tell, so I don't see any reason to stop supporting it for now. It will, however, be interesting to see what the NX is and how that affects the 3DS as a platform. If the NX is this hybrid system we've been hearing about for some time now, I almost feel like it would be better to start moving all focus off of the likes of Wii U and even 3DS and really put it all on NX. All the games/software could/should then start coming to that new platform, both the handheld and home console titles; I think that would really help sell it to a lot of consumers, especially it's Nintendo's main focus going forward, and I think it probably needs that kind of push/support if it's going to be the kind of success I'm sure we'd all like it to be. But, we really need to find out what NX is before anything I've just said even matters. . . .
Where Nintendo has done well recently is in their partnerships with Japanese developers such as Level 5, Capcom and Square-Enix and bringing their games to a western audience. By continuing to localise games they can keep the system going for a very long time, but as many of the titles are quite niche it also serves the benefit of not distracting from the impending NX release. I'm very pleased that Dragon Quest VII was finally released. On the other hand I have been underwhelmed by Nintendo's own releases over the past few years.
As a whole I still don't think the 3DS' library is as good as that of the DS, which is my favourite handheld of all time, but that is hardly a criticism. I also prefer the Vita (if you like Japanese games, that hasn't been short of great releases this year either!).
I love my PS4, but I spend more time playing my 3DS. Happy to see it be supported well into 2017. I know my back catalog already would have me playing into 2018 and beyond
Actually! This is Brilliant! 13 million Wii U consoles - 60 million 3ds Consoles! This means SOOOO many Nintendo fans still HAVEN'T played CAPTAIN TOAD TREASURE TRACKER! Hey! Here comes the Port over to 3ds! IT'S TOTALLY a GAME SUITED TO 3ds VISUALS! An easy port and would immediately garner a huge sale base! GO GO GO!
I'm down for a little more 3ds for a year in half more or so. Would love some more snes vc games and if Sega keeps releasing classics the way they have been I'll stay excited just about eshop stuff.
The 3DS is in my opinion the greatest handheld ever made. I would love for it to stick around. They need to remake FF6 and or release it on VC!!!
The best console of this generation.
I consider the wii and wii u to be basically one system. Same for the ds and 3ds. As far as I'm concerned, those are the best video game consoles ever made. Yea, there is flaws, but my library's for those consoles are over 10 years old and I have 400+ games for them combined. Most of which are loaded on he hard drives. (1tb for wii u)
My PS3/4 have a combined 50 games, and lots of those are for both, like uncharted 1-3. I have never understood why people just don't get why Nintendo consoles are awesome. Back to axiom verge on my gamepad while watching walking dead with my Roku.
Back in late 2011, I wrote a little blog for IGN, which was my main reading source for Nintendo at the time, saying how the 3DS is my favorite system of all time. Nowadays, I still carry my 3DS in my pocket but rarely play it. Most of my time, oddly, is dedicated to my Wii U and MK8. Looking at both systems, they are both great in their own right. One for 3D and the other for HD. One for portability, the other for being a great home console with 8+ players can play at once in some games.
It's sad for the Wii U. I wish it had succeeded but that dreadful Gamepad is the reason for it's failure; they could never bring down the price of the system because of it. For as much as I play Wii U, I rarely use it. Wii U Pro Controller is where it's at for Mii
@Donutman Well said ;.)
All I want is Monster Hunter Stories localized before they move on from the 3DS please and thank you.
I still want another 3DS ( Smaller White New 3DS or Pearl White New 3DS XL). Both of them look really nice.
@yannah21 That one part from the last Nintendo Direct; that wasn't Bill levitating Regie's New Nintendo 3DS XL, the the 3DS did so by itself. It's that stable.
Nintendo abandoning Wii U makes sense
The 3DS might very well be the best Nintendo plateform since the SNES.
The amount and diversity of great and unique games from Nintendo and third parties is stagering. You might not care about portable but if you get pass that it's actually really impressive.
I think 2D Pikmin wil be good, but I think the standard game would work really well on the 3DS.
It would be stupid of them not support it despite its age. Its one of the best console, albeit a handheld, out there today. The sheer diversity of games it has already, not to mention the games that have yet to be localized that already look fantastic (Monster Hunter: Stories, Dragon Ball Fusion, etc.).
While the NX might be useful as a hybrid, most people won't take it that far to leave the house with it, since its price will likely be steep, most 3DS/2DS owners don't take their systems out though its one of the system's selling points, and on the cheaper side, in terms of costs.
Hoping we get those coveted Japanese games, coupled with how long localization can take, we could see 3DS support into 2018, however improbable.
still play on my 3ds everyday. i don't need another system, 3ds is perfect. i need good new games.
3DS is a brilliant successor to the DS with a huge line up of quality games and experience, who needs a new gen handheld or mobile gaming when this handheld offers so much.
@Donutman That is not a bad way to consider the console, but it doesn't change the fact that support for both has been killed. When I first bought my Wii U, I did the same and chased after the Wii Gems that I wanted. Yet Wii mode on the Wii U is still half broken in that they should have made it seamless to add Wii virtual console and eShop games to the Wii U menu as they have for Wii Disc re-releases.
Matter of fact I am totally satisfied with the vc title. No need for me to make remake. A completely new title, 2d for the 3ds would be the most amazing thing. A new metroid prime trilogy maybe even better, hopefully they will bring out something for nx as a new wii u title is most unlikely.
Wow, 400 games! I just oen 31 for wii and over 20 for wii u plus over 20vc games. To me it warranted the purchase of a second wii u. If I get a bargain on it when nx launches I might even buy a third, crazy but true.
@Dakt Naaa, the NX has all but been confirmed to be a hybrid console/handheld. there's actually a news story up on the front page about it. Nintendo is simply following the trend. The 3DS took over a year to get into full swing, with Pokemon games still releasing on the DS after it's launch. In fact I distinctly remember everyone saying it was dead.. Now it's among the best selling handhelds of all time, go figure.
There will still be a place for the 3DS because it has a fantastic games library and they know it. The NX will technically be it's replacement, albeit a more expensive one. Even the Pokemon games are swapping to NX int the future. Nintendo bringing both it's development factions into one console/handheld is brilliant. Imagine a new Nintendo console that you could unplug and take with you, and had the combined library of the 3DS and WiiU.... that's what you call pure Nintendo bliss.
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