Today, Nintendo made an announcement that caught people off-guard: a new handheld console. The main selling point? In exchange for a $50 price cut, fewer features than Nintendo's other handheld console.
The followup to the company's 3DS, so called because the screen, through an optical illusion, produces 3-D images, is, no joke, the 2DS. It's a 3DS that only produces 2-D images. What's going on here?
For context, you might need to back up a few years, and look at a slightly different line of products. It's almost tough to remember now, but Nintendo's original home console, the Wii, released in 2006, sold incredibly well, besting its competitors, the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. It was a device unlike almost anything before it: the standard controller was replaced by something akin to a magic wand, where motion-sensing technology had players whipping the controller around to alter the action on screen. People loved it.
Last year, Nintendo released the Wii's successor, the Wii U. Financially, it's been a debacle. Even today, the original Wii is outselling the Wii U. Then, back in June, as part of an announcement coinciding with the gaming convention E3, Nintendo announced a very safe lineup of games.
The narrative on what went wrong with the Wii U is that it's still too similar to the original Wii for consumers to justify another purchase. So Nintendo's damage-control strategy is to play it conservative, releasing games from already tested franchises, like the Mario series. Now they seem to be doubling down by releasing a cheaper version of its relatively popular 3DS system. If so many people like the 3DS, Nintendo's thinking likely goes, then maybe making a cheaper version will open the market to more people.
Maybe. But between the poorly selling Wii U and the popular 3DS, I'd probably take away the exact opposite: people are clamoring for more risky products from Nintendo, not fewer.
I own the 3DS and I love it. Nintendo has no idea what they are doing in my opinion.
2DS isn't a bad idea but the WiiU is the worst idea I've seen from any Console company so far.
1st and foremost it's named the Wii U which sounds like it stinks. (like pee-eww) The subconscious tells people not to buy it.
2nd The tablet controller is outrageously expensive. And when released you couldn't even buy a 2nd tablet controller.
3rd Nintendo refuses to join the DVD consortium which they claim helps them sell the consoles cheaper. If I could play CD's and DVD's in a Wii or Wii U without having to hack it or put music into special file formats just to play music then it would help me want one regardless of what Nintendo thinks.
Lastly, Nintendo needs to make a next generation console instead of a current or previous generation console. Graphics do matter.
Nintendo started loosing the whole console market with the N64. Yes, their consoles continued to sell well, but the "Core" gamers who buy the consoles, and therefore the "Games" were drawn to the better graphics/performance of the better higher end consoles.
The Wii had large sales numbers because it was novel and cheaper then the competition, which made up for its lack of power. However, once the novelty wore off, the purchases usually realized that they had a $200 bowling simulator, and went out and bought a PS3 or XBOX360. 3rd party games sales have been horrible for the Wii.
The WiiU was more of the same, just a slightly more powerful Wii with a new "controller". Again, its a novel idea, but NOT novel enough to warrant buying yet another console with little to no 3rd party support. Nintendo's strong suit is in the handheld market, and frankly they need to stop saturation their own market with competing products. The "generation(s)" between the GBA -> DS -> 3DS -> 2DS are getting shorter, and in my opinion only serves to hurt their own market in the long run.
If I were a Nintendo executive right now I would be seriously considering discontinuing their "Home Console" division, and looking into releasing games from their collection on the XBOX-ONE or PS4. I would then focus what money was going into lackluster console development and put it into making handheld consoles superior to smart phones, because that is what Nintendo will loose its last console foothold to.
That, or I would partner with Google to release a "Nintendo" branded smartphone with a custom Android OS and charge a premium for it like Apple does for the iPhone.
Its those kind of drastic decisions that made Nintendo what it is today, it went from being an obscure pachinko machine maker to the #1 name in consoles for most of the 80's and 90's.
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I would also imagine they went back to the 2D since the 3DS really bugged out some peoples eyes. I have never had a problem with my and I am a pretty avid player of the games but there have been some issues with it.
Oh gee, people have been declaring to Nintendo that they should drop the console and go software for years. They continue to chug along despite it every time too.
Part of the reason they can is that by releasing a Wii for instance, they were making profit from day one unlike the heavy machinery of xbox 360 and ps3. It expanded a market and captured a solid price point for those who wanted casual fun and not hardcore gaming. It entirely dominated the last set of consoles and forced MS and Sony to play catch up.
The Wii U, sounding like "pee-u", won't be any different than calling it a Wii in the first place with all the innuendo you can pull from that.
It's biggest issue was the lack of launch titles and a higher price point than normal for nintendo. Price drop and some heavy Nintendo games finally, and it'll pick up some steam.
So I fully disagree that at this point they should drop their hardware division. Nintendo doesn't have to be #1 in console wars to be successful and turn a profit. They dont' need the top end graphics either. They've proven that and so does every popular facebook/mobile game. There is a huge market for gameplay over graphics.
Every company makes their mistakes. MS entirely blundered their Xbox One with bad 'always on', screwy used games policies, and requiring kinect. Sony which was way over priced last time and suffered for it has a tendency to play nice up front and remove all the bells and whistles when you aren't looking. Fortunately for the both of them, their other sides of business keep them afloat or else they'd have gone broke last generation.
Considering the life of the 360 and the PS3 (esp for blu-ray) I don't have a big desire to run out and buy the next set of consoles. The PS3 and the 360 will last me a couple more years. I think you'll see lack luster initial sales from them as well this first year.
I do agree with the comments on mobile phone gaming though. It would seem to be a niche Nintendo would enjoy working on, so I am a bit surprised they haven't entered that realm, even for retro releases. Zelda: A link to the past on a iphone/android would rake in cash.
Most companies make their money off the games, not the consoles. Once the price for the wii u drops sales will pick up. best all around family console that exists, and it has the power to play higher end games, that the wii lacks. no mention of the wii mini? i have one of those too. cant be beat at 100 bucks, still plays all the wii games except online content.
I would hardly consider the 2DS a 'follow up' to the 3DS, or a 'step away' from it. The 3DS is selling very well these days (number one console for the past three months, even over XBOX 360) and though not everyone loves the 3D feature, the system and games are quite popular.
Rather, it's pretty clear that this new device is positioned to provide a cheaper, entry-level model that will still share the HUGE and compelling library of games available to 3DS owners right now. The lower price point will mean many parents buying the 2DS for their kids and the lack of 3D makes it a safer choice for youngsters' developing eyesight.
While the Wii U is struggling, I think it would be foolish to count Nintendo out at this point; even if it fails to achieve anything greater than 'third place' during this cycle, Nintendo will probably still remain profitable, especially after this holiday season's very strong lineup and price cut on the system garner it a larger install base.
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