This is not a sensational post, I am not going to forecast the end of anything. This post is simply an opinion based on an observation.
The 3DS is selling. It isn't the instant hit Nintendo thought it would be, but they had their sights set pretty high. There are various well documented factors that could have attributed to these average
sales but for the purpose of this blog I'm going to focus on missed opportunities rather than stiff competition.
If there is one thing I know about the 3DS it's that Nintendo continues to mishandle it in this new market. While they have been successful in creating momentum they have failed to capitalize on it in a meaningful way and they have nobody to blame but themselves, they are creating their own missed opportunities.
Nintendo captivated mind share in the months leading up to e3 2010 with a bland press release stating that their new 3D enabled handheld would be shown off at the upcoming conference. They delivered the goods and most ate it up. The 3DS was the story of e3, being the only new hardware at the show. They had everybody excited for Zelda, a new Kid Icarus, Resident Evil, Star Fox, and Mario Kart.
Months later Nintendo would price the system, admittedly
, based on the positive reactions of the press, but they grossly miscalculated what consumers were willing to pay for the system. While the device was maintaining decent sales figures, Iwata and Co. understood that they needed to slash that price within mere months of release. A sizable drop in price proved to bolster sales of the 3DS but early adopters had mixed feelings. Nintendo offered free games to owners of their new handheld in hopes of retaining a positive relationship with their most faithful consumers.
Nintendo failed to capitalize on a head start, and hype generated right up until launch by pricing the system too high and not delivering enough incentive [games, eShop] for potential customers.
The Latest Potential Opportunity
Citing a lack-luster launch line up as a possible cause for slow sales Nintendo vowed to improve the situation by bringing big titles to the system, first party or otherwise. A recent scan from the latest Famitsu magazine
has revealed that one of Japans biggest franchises is coming to the 3DS. Monster Hunter, a game that, time after time, caused tremendous leaps in Japanese PSP sales, is coming to the 3DS. Nintendo will be hosting a pre-TGS event, to show off 'new products'. Monster Hunter will, presumably be one of them.
The Potential Miss
Along with Monster Hunter will come a second analog slider attachment. The monstrous peripheral, seen in the same Famitsu scan
, is cause for concern. Besides being unwieldy and ugly, this may indicate that a revision of the 3DS is coming sooner than previously believed. This is more bad news for those early adopters, but what really makes this a missed opportunity [possibly] is that while Nintendo is getting a huge franchise on the system they may also be forcing players to adopt this new, huge, peripheral control method to play it.
My Two Cents
To fully take advantage of the new price, the new controls, and a new Monster Hunter I believe the best course of action would be to reveal the redesigned 3DS at the upcoming conference, including a special edition Monster Hunter bundle. They would have to all but forget about the original 3DS and cut their loses [~4million burned customers]. It could still happen, but, unfortunately, I don't think Nintendo is in a position to do that.
This may be the most publicly flustered I have ever seen Nintendo. They are dropping prices, they are handing out games, and they are bringing out new hardware, and all within the 3DS's first year. It's as if somebody hit the panic button. The Monster Hunter/Second Slider ordeal has not played out yet so it remains to be seen what sort of impact this will have on the 3DS. If you ask me though, it really does seem as if Nintendo released a prototype for testing. As horrible as that sounds though I don't think it's too late to turn things around. This blog is only about missed opportunities after all, not complete failures. There is plenty more to come.