Cancelled games. A dramatic price drop. Falling shares. It’s all looking a bit grim for Nintendo and the 3DS. But is it actually all doom and gloom for Nintendo’s latest 3D handheld games console?
Early price drops do happen in the console world from time to time (see the N64 and original Xbox), but this could well be the fastest one yet – it’s only four months since the 3DS released.
The handheld’s sluggish sales have even led Nintendo president Satoru Iwata to cut his salary by 50%, with other directors and execs also seeing pay cuts. And it’s questionable whether the 3DS’s new price will help, as Nintendo will apparently now make a loss on every handheld sold.
It’s no surprise
The 3DS hasn’t exactly been selling like hot cakes, and the number one reason, as discovered by Nintendo’s own customer research, was the price. So now that they’ve addressed this, is Nintendo home and dry? Not yet.
When I reviewed the 3DS earlier in the year, I commented that it was an impressive bit of tech, but that the content was severely lacking. I still stand by this, and can make my point by sharing my own game stats from the system. My top three played games are Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, Zelda: Links Awakening and Pilotwings.
My brand new console has spent most of it’s time being used to play games from over a decade ago. The lack of a decent library of launch titles, or ‘killer app’, has really hurt the 3DS.
Smartphones and Sony’s challenge
In an age when most of us carry a smartphone around in our pocket, each with their own libraries of thousands of downloadable games, console makers really need to make sure that they can offer us games we want to play, especially at £30 a pop.
So assuming that the new price drop and a healthy games library come into fruition by Christmas, everything should be fine for Nintendo. Except of course that the Sony new handheld, the PlayStation Vita, is just on the horizon – it promises to be the most technologically impressive handhelds we’ve ever seen.
However, the Vita will be in the same boat as the 3DS at its launch, with a high asking price and a lack of software (initially at least). While Nintendo has taken a bit of a battering by launching first, I’m sure we’ll see them come out on top, just as it has with every handheld it’s released to date.
If Sony is smart, it’ll be looking at the last few months of the 3DS’s life, and adjusting its marketing accordingly…