The Nintendo 3DS was launched a little over four months ago, but dispite its very unique selling-point - real 3D gaming without the need for glasses, it has sold only 3.61 million units since its inception, which is well-below the 4 million units that Nintendo had originally estimated.
Prior to its release on the 25th March 2011, the Nintendo 3DS was "the most pre-ordered video games system ever" according to online retailer Amazon UK [sourced from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nintendo_3DS#Release].
However, just a few months later, the console appears to be in trouble. Mini Gamers recently announced that several popular 3DS games had been cancelled, with a few more titles being delayed, pending a cancellation decision. What has prompted video games publishers to do this?
Sega has openly admitted that it has delayed two of its debut 3DS titles - Crush 3D and Shinobi because of the lack of success of the 3DS console in the current gaming market.
According to Sega Studio Chief, Paul Mottram: "We did our first 3DS title - we got Crush onto that, but we had to delay the release of that because of the [lack of] success of the platform." [sourced from: http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2011-07-14-nights-at-the-roundtable-interview]
So, what has caused the Nintendo 3DS console to sell far below expectation? There are a few speculative reasons as to why the Nintendo 3DS has failed to attract enough attention in the gaming market so far.
Some people blame the expensive launch price of the 3DS for its lack of success. Although the Japanese version of the 3DS console retailed at a fixed price of under £200, (25,000 Yen), the European price of the console was set by individual retailers, which meant that prices varied wildly between £219 to £250. This made the Nintendo 3DS the most expensive handheld console to date, which was quite off-putting to many handheld gamers.
Another potential reason as to why the Nintendo 3DS has failed to sell the estimated amount of units outside of Japan, is the somewhat weak European launch games line-up. The highest-selling 3DS game at the Japanese launch was Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle, which sold 119,551 copies in its first launch weekend, and undoubtly contributed to the success of the 3DS in its native country.
However, when it was revealed that Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle would not be included in the European launch, it came as a disappointment. Worse still, other popular Nintendo game franchises were also not included in the line-up.
In fact, it was revealed that some of the most popular 3DS titles, including MarioKart 3D (see screenshot), Super Mario Bros 3D, Metal Gear Solid 3D, and Resident Evil: Revelations amongst others, would in fact not debut on the console until Winter 2011.
It has been argued in certain gaming circles, that if some of these more popular franchises had been part of the original launch games, it would have encouraged more gamers to trade in their DS consoles for a 3DS. Instead, many gamers have decided to wait until these titles are released, thus, affecting the overall popularity of the 3DS console.
A further reason for the lack of success of the 3DS console is that many of the unique features were not available at the original launch. This included the console's eShop and Internet Browser, and the Nintendo Video Service.
These interactive features would have helped to make the 3DS stand out amongst its handheld competitors at launch and would have made the console appear much more versatile. Nevertheless, gamers had to wait several months for these applications to become available, by which time the console was already struggling to maintain good sales figures.
A Netflix film download service has now launched on the 3DS in North-America and is expected to launch in the UK and the rest of Europe some time next year. It is hoped that this service will raise the console's public profile and lead to more sales, but at this point there is no way of knowing whether this plan will succeed.
Nintendo has now set itself the target of selling at least 16 million 3DS units by the end of the Fiscal year (which is the end of April 2012 in Japan). However, even Nintendo President Sotaru Iwata knows that this will be impossible if big name titles are not released before the end of the year.
In a recent article on the Nintendo Life website, Mr. Iwata admitted that if big name titles such as MarioKart 3D and Animal Crossing 3D were not released by the beginning of 2012 at the latest, then the target figure of 16 million units was nothing more than a pipe dream.
He said: "If any one of the titles you mentioned right now is not released within this fiscal year, I do not believe that we will sell 16 million units of Nintendo 3DS hardware this fiscal year." [Sourced from: http://3ds.nintendolife.com/news/2011/05/iwata_we_need_big_games_to_hit_3ds_sales_targets_this_year]
Mini Gamers was very impressed with the 3DS console during our review earlier this year, and we are incredibly surprised that the console has not managed to exceed original sales estimations.
The recent 3DS game cancellations have only helped to fuel the growing accusations that the 3DS is a novelty console whose success could only ever be short-lived.
Nevertheless, it is clear that the next few months will be vital in determining whether the 3DS can become the success that it was originally meant to be...
HAVE YOUR SAY...
Do you believe that the 3DS is a failure?
What can Nintendo do in the next 12 months to ensure that the 3DS can be a success?
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