Ever since the initial Nintendo Switch announcement, one big question has lingered on the minds of Nintendo fans: “What does this mean for the 3DS—can it coexist with the Switch?”
Some have embraced the Nintendo Switch as a new portable console and the replacement for the aging 3DS. As a result, there are high expectations for Nintendo moving forward with a single system that will receive all future first-party software. But, that’s not exactly the reality of the situation.
Nintendo intends to continue supporting the 3DS for at least the next few years. There’s still quite a bit of software in the pipeline for the handheld. For Nintendo fans who believed Switch was Nintendo’s future, this decision led to much consternation. These fans believe that all software development should focus on the Switch to avoid the severe software droughts that had plagued past Nintendo consoles, like the Wii U. Nintendo’s currently unceasing support for the 3DS in a Switch-dominated world has brought up several questions among fans, including:
“Will 3DS sales cannibalize Switch sales?”, “Will continued software support for 3DS by Nintendo cause gaps or even droughts in Switch’s software lineup?” and “Does the 3DS even have a place on the market now that Switch is here?” Now that Nintendo’s E3 presentation has come and gone, I think we can confidently answer these burning questions.
First off, there is little evidence that 3DS sales are cannibalizing Switch sales, as we have seen the new console still selling out virtually everywhere since March. Nintendo in fact is having trouble keeping up with the Switch’s high demand. Switch demand is expected to continue through the year as major games launch for the console. Meanwhile, 3DS sales have continued to stay strong.
Secondly, though there was concern that continued software support for 3DS will hurt Switch’s software lineup. Nintendo put that fear to rest at E3, where the company showed off an adept balancing of its two platforms.
Nintendo’s 25-minute E3 2017 spotlight presentation was jam packed with new game announcements for the Nintendo Switch. Including a new Metroid Prime and a new Pokemon RPG set to hit the Switch. Watching the spotlight alone may have you think the company is leaving the 3DS in its rearview. Instead, Nintendo withheld 3DS announcements from the main presentation and peppered them throughout its Treehouse Live coverage.
During Treehouse Live, Nintendo announced three new 3DS games including a Metroid title: Metroid Samus Returns. Samus Returns is a remake of Metroid II set to hit this fall. Given the announcement of new Pokemon Sun and Moon titles coming to the 3DS this holiday, Nintendo has a robust lineup of heavy hitters for both of its platforms this year. I think this proves that continued development for 3DS is in no way harming the Switch’s software lineup. In fact, Nintendo’s overall software lineup for this year is the strongest it has been in years.
So the biggest question is: does 3DS have a place in a post-Switch market? Despite strong continued software support and sales, is the 3DS needed at this point? I believe so. The reason 3DS has a place on the market is straightforward: it’s a low-cost entry point into the world of Nintendo. It has a massive lineup of quality software to back it up.
Sure, it’s easy for diehard Nintendo fans such as me to write-off the 3DS now that it’s no longer the latest and greatest Nintendo portable. But, we’re the converted: think about potential new fans, including kids receiving a 3DS as their first gaming system. When I worked in retail, I saw plenty of parents buy 3DS units for their children just because it was inexpensive and straightforward. Those people would probably balk at the purchase of a $300 hybrid console for their kids except for Christmas or a special occasion, but a $79 2DS with Mario Kart is a much easier sell.
I think it is important for Nintendo to be able to continue to capture the children’s gaming market because these kids who’ll be getting a 3DS this Christmas, or for any occasion have the potential to become future gamers, future Nintendo Enthusiasts.Think back to when you fell in love with Nintendo – I’m willing to bet for most readers it was that experience as a child receiving the very first Nintendo system. It certainly was for me; I was nine when I got my NES console for my birthday and fell in love with Super Mario Bros. I’ve owned every Nintendo system since and have not looked back.
Yes, I do believe both the Switch and the 3DS have a place on the market and can co-exist. The 3DS is a budget system for children or anybody looking for a low-priced, but high-quality gaming experience with a huge gaming lineup to back it up. Meanwhile, the Switch is a more sophisticated, premium experience for enthusiasts, or people looking for console-style gaming that they can also take anywhere. It offers a burgeoning software lineup that’s small right now, but steadily increasing. Nintendo Enthusiasts, we are now in a new golden age of Nintendo, and the future’s looking brighter than ever.