Posted by: seanmalstrom | August 29, 2014

Email: How the mighty have fallen…

Predictably, there has been lots of fallout among hardcore gamers about how New 3DS is “the first time Nintendo has fractured their user base within three years.” Of course, this is more of the usual hardcore historical revisionism. Look at when DS launched relative to GBA:

GBA JP release date: March 21, 2001
DS NA release date: November 21, 20043DS JP release date: February 26, 2011
New 3DS JP release date: October 10, 2014

That’s almost exactly the same gap.
The difference, of course, is that DS was aimed at being more inclusive to new players and developers, that DS was indeed positioned as a brand-new system, and that DS would have several years of software support.
Obviously none of that is going to be true for 3DS: it’s aimed at getting hardcore players and existing 3DS owners to buy into Nintendo’s GameCube-esque software, and it won’t have either the longevity or the library of a full-fledged system.
I predicted awhile back that Nintendo would launch new handheld hardware sometime this year or next, but I would have thought it would have been a DS-like correction, not a New 3DS. It’s like Nintendo has forgotten how to turn around its business, how to please the average gamer, and how to make attractive hardware, and is instead firmly committed to heading straight for the proverbial iceberg.
I guess it’s probably best that they wait until they can finalize their “unified platform” to go ahead with a true successor, but based on 2DS I would have thought they’d at least recognize that it’s time for their handhelds to head back down the path that Game Boy and DS treaded – affordable, comfortable, accessible hardware, not the Frankenstein monster the New 3DS seems to be.
(Note: I’m not even personally turned off by it. I hope Xenoblade is a good example of the kinds of games they’re envisioning for this thing. I just recognize it’s definitely not designed to do the jobs handheld hardware is supposed to do.)
I still think the NEW 3DS is just to reinvigorate the platform. The 3DS successor will likely be seen in 2016 or maybe 2017.


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