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Nintendo 3DS: Where Does it Fit In?

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).

switch stock

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 [2017]. 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.

NewN3DSXL_black
Nintendo offers a selection of options including the $199.99 New Nintendo 3DS XL (pictured above), the $149.99 New Nintendo 2DS XL and Nintendo 2DS bundles that cost $79.99, which come with an installed game.

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!

9 thoughts on “Nintendo 3DS: Where Does it Fit In?

  1. I’d be curious to see how their sales in software look. The 3DS is extremely vulnerable to software mods. Using a variety of options a common user can follow a guide to install home brew applications that allow you to basically download and play any game you want.

  2. Its an interesting thought. With that being said, do you think they’d try and market that as an option even after the development of further handheld consoles is discontinued? A “Keep the 3DS Alive” type campaign? Or would the downloading of said homebrew applications be a user initiative? What comes to mind is jail breaking a phone.

  3. A lot of the reasoning behind cutting out the 3DS and focusing completely on the Switch is that Nintendo has been demonstrably incapable of supporting both platforms at once. Possibly the biggest problem plaguing the Wii U was the sheer drought of games; yet while that was going on, the 3DS was receiving all sorts of support. Combining the two experiences to allow for a home console with proper support as well as a portable that plays console-level games is the best of both worlds, and that just makes sense. So my answer to the title would be “It doesn’t.” And honestly, it more or less is already dead, Nintendo just hasn’t made it official because they want to milk out as much as they can out of the platform(like with releasing the New Nintendo 2DS XL bundled with Hey! Pikmin).

    That said, even though the 3DS is done with, it still has the best library of games on any portable console. You’ll likely be coming back to it for years to come, so I wouldn’t say your purchase was a waste of money.

    1. I apologize that it took me so long to see this sir. You make an excellent point about supporting multiple consoles and how their lack of ability to do so lead to the downfall of the Wii-U. In essence, that was their first attempt at the portable/tv-console and despite how poorly it did overall, paved the way for the Switch.

      The more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve realized that you and others are right. Beefing up the 3DS is still well worth it, due primarily to what a great library it offers.

  4. I love my 3DS, admittedly I’ve not played it that much recently because I used to play it more while I was commuting on the train, since I’ve been driving to work that’s changed of course. I think it still has a place, as great and portable as the Switch is I wouldn’t feel anywhere near as comfortable getting that out to game on a crowded train or something. The way it’s going though it looks like eventually we’d have something like the Switch that can go from the TV to a tablet to something even smaller and DS-like.

    Thanks for the shout out!

    1. Driving to work is overrated, imo. I wish Miami had better public transportation so that I could use my DS and Kindle on my commutes to and from the office.

      I agree though, that it still has it’s place. Barring an announcement that some new handheld comes out in the next few years, maybe without the silly 3D feature and with easy access to all of my favorite games, I’ll most likely be holding onto my 3DS for a while yet.

  5. It’s funny that you mentioned Dragon’s Nuzlocke run because she’s definitely persuading me to jump back into Pokemon. Nuzlocke challenges are the most fun I’ve had with the series since I was a little kid and experienced Blue for the first time.
    The 3DS is definitely in a weird place, and I think your point about the closeness in price to the Switch is really valid. The Switch is a far superior piece of technology and is receiving a constant influx of new first party and indie titles as well as some third party support, and only costs $100 more? I think it would be difficult to sell an informed consumer on the New 3DS in comparison.

    1. This is my first Nuzlocke challenge and it has been an experience. The challenge and change of pace is exciting but losing a quarter of your team to a gym leader 20+ levels in… well that is a practice in patience, haha.

      I think 2018 will be a big year for gaming announcements, especially for Nintendo. They knocked it out of the park in 2017 and need to play their cards right to keep that momentum going. Pushing content and updates for the Switch will be key, but maybe there will still be a space for a smaller and even more portable handheld option; if not just to access “older games” on the go.

      I don’t see Nintendo putting out anymore new content for the 3DS though, since most of the big titles have been ported to the Switch (or are being ported over) already: i.e. Monster Hunter and Pokemon.

      1. Yeah, I definitely think it’s time for the 3DS to make a quiet departure. It has certainly earned its retirement – some of the best games I have ever played were 3DS titles. That console lived a long life and delivered absolutely stellar content, so it isn’t as if it needs a last hurrah to be impressive!

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