Can The 3DS Bounce Back?

I read a few editorials online today, particularly this one that really got me thinking about the past.  Did you know that every time Nintendo has lowered the price of one of their consoles within the first six months of its release it has been a commercial disappointment?  Yeah I didn’t really realize that either.  Take a look at the following examples.

Virtual Boy – Launched August 1995 at $180, reduced to $160 in October 1995

N64 – Launched September 1996 at $199, reduced to $149 in March 1997

GameCube – Launched November 2001 at $199. reduced to $149 in May 2002

Don’t get me wrong these were all excellent systems, yes even the Virtual Boy, but all of these platforms failed to meet Nintendo’s sales expectations for a variety of reasons.  For their ‘successful’ systems Nintendo does whatever it can to keep the price constant.  The Wii went two years without a price drop, and the DS had to wait a year and a half for its price to drop as a result of a remodel.

Now we have the 3DS, which launched March 2011 at $250, and is already having its price lowered to $170 in a few weeks from now.  Does this mean it’s doomed?  I seriously doubt it, but based on Nintendo’s history it is an item up for discussion.  Personally I feel that this situation is different than the above, simply because we have yet to see any truly killer software released on the 3DS.  The biggest game, and first million-seller I might add, is a remake to Ocarina of Time.  It was released months after the system launched.  That’s on top of promised features arriving late like the eShop.

I’m interested to hear what all of you have to say.  The N64 and GameCube were home to some of the very best games of their respectful generations even though Nintendo was disappointed in their overall sales.  We already know the 3DS will have some truly awe-inspiring games by the end of the year, but do you think sales will be able to turn around in such a way that the big N considers the system a winner?


16 thoughts on “Can The 3DS Bounce Back?”

  1. My opinion hasn’t change since the early Wii days; I always thought that Nintendo fcked themselves over by going for the casual crowd. Casuals don’t go and buy the new systems… The hardcore do that and they lost all of them…

  2. What sucks and nobody seems to be talking about it is that it’s the 2nd straight week that Nintendo doesn’t release a single game in there virtual console on the 3DS.

  3. In other news, Zelda OoT 3D has sold over 1 million copies. So maybe not all is lost just yet. I think the new handheld NEEDS good games to sell the system. We will see in the near future what happens.

  4. I think they have a chance. Lower price with more incentives for purchase now and going forward than they did at launch. As I’ve said before Mario and Mario Kart are games that are both pretty good at having long term sustained sales as well as being system drivers for prospective new adopters. The smart thing for them to do would start some bundle deals later this year to package a key title with a 3DS and go from there. But I’m with Tim, while price was a big turnoff for many (hey, I spent nearly $350 total at launch for hardware accessories and games, but I’m the early adopter type with the means to do so :P) an even bigger turnoff is the lack of a killer app or some kind of system driving software.

    A lot of the software out there now is good if you already have the system, but something like Dead or Alive for instance, as good as it is, wouldn’t entice me to buy the platform. I do know people both online and personally that have bought it simply because of a remake of a game that’s more than a decade old.

    @ AppetitePat

    I wouldn’t say Nintendo lost all the hardcore; there have been games not geared at the expanded audience that has done well on Wii despite the assumed casual focus. After all, third parties in generaly may have dropped the ball time and again but Nintendo has continued to create their stable of fan anticipated IP along with those expanded audience titles, heck they even brought back some games like Sin and Punishment and Punch Out. (though the former, like the original, didn’t do too hot at retail)

    Casuals aren’t this alien group of people that certain pundits in the industry like to make them out to be. While they may be less inclined than established gamers like you or myself they are drawn by interest just like anyone else with an intent to purchase. I’m sure there are many Kinect users out there that initially owned or still own a Wii who are helping to drive sales for Microsoft. That requires yet another couple of hundred dollars worth of investment to obtain that experience which would entail buying new hardware. If the interest is also there for Wii U, I’m sure they’ll chase after that experience too.

  5. Yes Kezay I agree with you. The price is a big turn off, and then no games to back it up. Most folks will wait like I was/did going to do. $169.99 is a great price for the Nintendo 3DS, and with Star Fox 64 3D out in Sept…and then Mario Kart and Super Mario. It would be dumb not to buy a system in the near future.

  6. I think their biggest problem was being unable to justify the price. It was a problem Sony had with the PS3 at launch for anyone not interested in Blu-ray. Why spend $600 on a system when I don’t care about movies? That was a fairly tough sell initially. With the 3DS, it was the lack of a single AAA launch title or even launch window game. People typically buy Nintendo systems for Nintendo games at least initially. What did Nintendo have to offer? Even at $160 I don’t see the sales being too much higher than what they are now. Then there was the reliance on old games. I bought the system for OoT, but let’s make no mistake this is an old game. The same is true for Starfox. Once the brand new Mario and Mario Kart hit, I think things will turn around. It just makes you wonder if Nintendo should have held out until these two games were ready to go right away.

    It’s always harder to convince people you’re going to turn things around (like what Sony had to do with the PS3) then to do it right the first time out of the gate.

  7. I read a comment on IGN (I’ve been bad) and it made me burst out in laughter. BTW, this is completely off-topic. It’s a quote from lonewolf1223 :

    “In other news Nintendo has announced Xenoblade Chronicles for India, China, Russia, North and South Korea, the Middle East, Africa, Mexico and the rest of South America, and Canada. And Antarctica.”

  8. That’s true Jarrod but I think it goes to show just how much people hang on to Nintendo’s tried and true and I think it has a lot to do with expectations. People expect Nintendo to put out their best more often than not but the 3DS launch was lacking in that department and the lack of killer apps on the third party side of the equation didn’t help matters.

    It makes you wonder though. The original launch date for 3DS was meant to be last holiday season. Imagine if they launched then? A six month wait for the eShop? Months long wait for the first wave of software during the actual launch? Would have been even more of a disaster.

    @ Steven

    Well it’s just odd. NoA has been dropping the ball on localizations this generation whereas NoE and other branches in smaller territories have been picking up the slack. Heck, Europe got Another Code R, Disaster Day of Crisis and now Xenoblade. (among others) NoA hasn’t seen any of these games despite each one (aside from Another Code) debuting at a major gaming event in North America. We’ll probably never see Another Code now that Cing is dead and I’m not sure how the rights breakdown between them and Nintendo. (I was a fan of the DS game as short as it was, the Wii version is apparently so much more realized by comparison)

  9. Yeah Marcus, that really would have been a nightmare, no question about it. I think it would have been darn near impossible for Nintendo to have rectified the situation had they launched earlier.

    As for the localization effort, yeah it really is a mystery as to what’s going on over at NoA. They’re completely dropped the ball. I never imagined I would have to import games from Europe O_O

  10. I’ll just say that one of the best reasons that the 3DS will not suffer the same fate as the Virtual Boy is….it’s just not like the Virtual Boy. The Virtual Boy was practically unplayable. It was difficult to use, terribly designed, and just murder on your eyes. The 3DS 3D display may be uncomfortable for some for long periods of play, but it is absolutely nowhere near the level of fail the Virtual Boy was. The system is at least playable for many without the 3D feature, which is what may save it for a lot of people. In my mind, I think many will just see it as a more powerful DS, and 3D is just the most pronounced feature.

    The 3DS did have a bad launch. Many systems have had one, but was worse is that there was no great follow-up. Nintendo did not plan things out well with the 3DS to allow early owners to be treated to a several month drought. Japanese owners at least had a few more games to choose from, including a Professor Layton game (god I love that series). In the US, choices have been slim. There are some good games for the system still, like Street Fighter and Zelda, but we haven’t seen the system really offer something all it’s own. I’m confident that the system will have some excellent games on it. Nintendo shouldn’t have to make gamers wait this long though, so I can understand why people are disappointed in the system. Here’s to hoping Nintendo can avoid the same problems with the Wii U launch.

    As for Nintendo of America, they’ve really fallen behind. They’ve completely ignored many great games for both the Wii and DS. Not only Xenoblade, Disaster Day of Crisis, and Another Code R, but what about Last Window, Tales of Graces, Fatal Frame IV, Last Story, Pandora’s Tower, and Zangeki? Europe has been far more active with their localization department, and they don’t have all of those.

  11. Tim I don’t think there’s any real question this won’t be the next Virtual Boy if only because it’s already outsold that device. The VB was doomed way before it ever hit retailers. The 3DS simply had a really rough start compared to what Nintendo expected. We all agree that it’s the lack of truly compelling software that’s holding the system back now. Once that fixes itself there really shouldn’t be any more problems.

  12. It’s actually somewhat infuriating to see some in the gaming media comparing the 3DS to the Virtual Boy. Outside the fact that both utilize stereoscopic 3D for their displays their situations are as different as night and day. Gaming journalism is more and more leaning into sensationalism territory, but I digress.

  13. Yeah it’s completely ridiculous to compare the VB with any modern console/portable release. The VB lasted under a year before it was discontinued. I only added it here to show the early price drop and nothing more. The system had what, 15 games in its entire lifespan, etc. There is nothing that compares to the colossal failure that was Virtual Boy. That said, I did enjoy my time with the system however limited it was.

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