Earlier this week, Nintendo gave the industry details regarding their next home console now named the Nintendo Switch. Before it’s announcement, we knew the system as the Nintendo NX, and that is about all the information that came out of that.
Now that we are aware how the particular functionality of the brand new console/tablet hybrid, it leaves one question for us: With the Nintendo Switch’s strong focus on mobile gaming, what will happen to the Nintendo 3DS after the console launches? I’ve had conversations with the other writing staff on InformedPixel and have come up with some potential answers to this question. Will the Nintendo 3DS be slowly phased out by the Nintendo Switch or will Nintendo keep it alive by offering up further hardware revisions?
We are ending the typical end of a game platform’s life cycle. Gamers around the world were introduced to the Nintendo 3DS in 2011, where we were introduced glasses free 3D entertainment. When the Nintendo Switch is released, the Nintendo 3DS will be celebrating its sixth birthday, translating into ‘old age’ for a gaming platform. Other examples of six years marking ‘old age’ would follow the Nintendo 64, Nintendo Gamecube, Nintendo Wii, and the original Xbox. Of course, the industry has changed significantly, with the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 lasting well past the six-year mark. Following the information provided, the Nintendo Switch may become the console to replace the Nintendo 3DS, especially with its strong focus on mobile gaming.
Let’s take a look at Nintendo’s list of upcoming titles. We know that Pokemon Sun & Pokemon Moon are releasing on November 18th – no surprise here. We also know that titles like Poochy & Yoshi’s Wooly World and Super Mario Maker will be making their way to the Nintendo 3DS before the Nintendo Switch’s official release. Following the release of the new platform, Pikmin, Dragon Quest VIII, Monster Tale Ultimate, and Ever Oasis will be published for the Nintendo 3DS. Of course, the 2DS/3DS remains healthy, but the same cannot be said for the Nintendo Wii U, having no games available between now and the time that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild launches. Of course, this title will be available on both the Nintendo Switch and the Nintendo Wii U.
One aspect that makes the Nintendo Switch promising is portable AAA titles like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and their new Mario adventure; something which can not be accomplished using the Nintendo 3DS. This point is what inspired me to bring this conversation up, because gamers will want to justify better graphical experiences over simpler, handheld ones. Not to say that the Nintendo 3DS didn’t have great games throughout its lifetime, but the Nintendo Switch opens the door for better experiences and enriching visuals. Taking power and functionality of the Nintendo Switch, we could see an end of the era for the Nintendo 3DS.
I suppose it’s possible for Nintendo to make the Nintendo 3DS an extension of the Nintendo Switch. By offering up titles that have cross-platform play, or even using the Nintendo 3DS as a controller for the Switch, just like how it was utilized in Super Smash Bros. For Nintendo Wii U could help keep the Nintendo 3DS/2DS alive. This being said it takes about a couple years for Nintendo to phase out their mobile platforms. With the Nintendo DS being released in the Fall of 2004, it only took about a two years before support for the Gameboy Advance begun to fizzle. It is possible that Nintendo plans to do the same thing with the Nintendo 3DS and the Nintendo Switch, but the question comes to whether or not Nintendo can manage two mobile gaming platforms.
For a moment, though, let’s break off and talk about sales of the Nintendo DS library. Of course, the Nintendo 3DS has sold significantly well, especially since the introduction of the Nintendo 2DS, which offers the same great games at a reduced price. If Nintendo was to choose to drop the Nintendo 3DS in the next couple of years and focus on the Nintendo Switch, I believe they would be forced to offer a cheaper alternative to the Nintendo Switch which could be offered up to the same demographic. After all, the Nintendo 2DS has ushered in a bigger fanbase, and it would be a grave mistake to not include the younger generations of people into Nintendo’s gaming world.
The big “N” have always had success in mobile markets – ever since the release of the Gameboy in 1989. Since then, Nintendo has dominated mobile markets in nearly every region, with competitors like Sony attempting to cash in with devices like the Playstation Portable and Playstation Vita. Unfortunately for them, they haven’t been able to hold a light to the Nintendo lineup in most regions, except the Playstation Portable and Playstation Vita sales in Japan. This is because of Sony’s strong focus on Japanese RPG’s, which have proven to not only be big sellers for Sony’s handheld market but the Playstation 4 as well.
These small signs point to the Nintendo 3DS’s time coming to a close; however, Nintendo has never been one to announce full game lineups months in advance; as exhibited by the Nintendo Switch reveal last week. It’s possible that Nintendo has a lot of unannounced plans for the Nintendo 3DS. Nintendo has announced that no further details of the console will be discussed until next year.
The Nintendo Switch is scheduled to launch in March 2017.