Thanks to some of my fellow bloggers, I’ve recently picked up my Nintendo “New” 3DS XL again. Special credit goes to: Dragon’s Tea Party and the Dragon’s Nuzlocke Challenge, which gave me the Pokemon bug. I’ve also been experiencing a rather massive wave of nostalgia thanks to a blogging event hosted by @theWellRedMage that challenged readers to come up with a list of their favorite games for every year they’ve been alive. (Here is mine in case you missed it.)
My rediscovery of the 3DS brought with it plans to swap out the rather limited internal storage card for a larger one, so that I could slowly starting building up my library with some of my favorite titles from the Nintendo eShop. I also decided that I’d follow the advice of Andy Robertson (a Forbes contributor) and upgrade the battery pack on my 3DS, effectively tripling play time.
Around the same time as all of my planning began, I came across an interesting article that discussed how and why 2018 should be the final year for the 3DS. The author, one Cody Perez, makes valid points as he discusses similarities with how Nintendo’s systems have been phased out in the past: life span in terms of years, a lack of big game announcements or press coverage and the release of a new console (my Nintendo Switch comes to mind).
Despite the well made points, my initial reaction was something to the effect of “But why?!” All of my excitement about buffing up my handheld seemed to deflate at the possibility that it would be irrelevant within the year. I continued to poke around online and found another article that spoke instead to the recent financial success of the 3DS. Michael McWhertor of Polygon writes that the end of 2017 saw the best sales month for the 3DS in years:
“While most of the attention Nintendo gets these days involves the Switch… the Nintendo 3DS platform is still killing it. Nintendo announced today that the 3DS family of systems just had its best month of sales since December 2014.
According to Nintendo, citing NPD Group sales estimates, the company sold more than 750,000 2DS and 3DS systems in the United States during the month of December . That’s a 27 percent increase over the same period in 2016, pushing 3DS hardware sales past 21 million in the U.S., Nintendo said.”
That article lead me to take a look at the retail price for a “Nintendo New 3DS XL”. I figured it would probably have dropped in price since it’s release almost 3 years ago. Imagine my surprise when a quick look online showed that the “Nintendo New 3DS XL” is still selling for $200.00! Having read the above articles though, I’m unsure whether a consistent price tag of $200.00 for this 3DS model bodes well for the future of the entire family of handheld consoles.
On the one hand, Polygon highlights that December 2017 was an excellent month for the sales of the 2DS and 3DS family of consoles, which includes all of the available options for handheld gaming. On the other hand, the Nintendo Switch retails for $300 which is only $100 more than the $200 price tag of the New Nintendo 3DS XL and offers much more bang for your buck.
The whole experience has left me with more questions than answers. For now, I still plan on installing the new memory card and battery into my 3DS, so that I can start building my digital collection of retro and handheld classics. I rather enjoy the idea of a super portable and somewhat private collection of favorite games, available at the touch of my fingers. The Nintendo Switch already offers an exciting library, and it’s only getting bigger; it lacks, at least to me, a certain intimacy though.
What do you think about the future of Nintendo’s handheld gaming? Let me know in the comments below!