Here’s why Nintendo’s 3DS target is off by a whopping 75%

Infendo

Just how bad is 3DS performing? In case it wasn’t obvious, let the numbers do the talking.

According to Reuters, Nintendo is hoping to sell 16 million 3DS units by the end of the year. After selling more than 3 million units in the first month, sales tapered to just 700k additional units for the entire following quarter ending in June. That’s just over 4 million; 75% short of their 16 million target so far.

Granted, a few hundred thousand additional owners picked up the thing after the price drop. And Nintendo will move a few more during the holidays. But the way it’s trending, it’s unlikely the 3DS will sell more than 6 million (if that) by year’s end, which would still be more than 60% below target expectations.

For context, the original DS has sold more 140 million worldwide and counting. It too, like the 3DS, started slow. But not this slow.

And six months after its release, it had lots of gameplay that was only capable on DS, unlike 3DS, which is predominately stocked with re-releases or gameplay that doesn’t benefit from stereoscopic 3D at all.

In other words, without original games, the 3DS will continue to struggle. And although reassuring, I’m not sure these games are original enough. They are certainly not as innovative as Prime Hunters, Kirby Canvas Curse, Nintendogs 1.0, or Wii Sports. Not by a long shot.

Those are the kinds of games 3DS will need if it hopes to catch on.

RELEASE DATE UPDATE AND CLARIFICATION: Metroid Prime Hunters demo came out in 2004. I bought my DS Phat in Jan 2005 because of it. That demo alone did more to justify the gameplay enhancements of the DS than anything on the 3DS so far or even within the next 6-8 months.

Canvas Curse, a mind-blowing game only made possible by stylus control, released seven months after the DS’s Nov. 2004 release. Nintendogs released nine months after the DS, when things skyrockted.

Are those with their panties in a bunch really suggesting the 3DS will have similar demos or “made better by 3D” games by month 0 (last march), month 7 (this oct) or month 9 (this dec)? From what I have played, Super Mario Land 3D and Mario Kart 7 do not benefit at all from 3D, nor do the titles the company is prepping for early 2012 (Kid Icarus).

Furthermore, do those with their panties in a bunch really disagree with the article’s takeaway that “Those are the kinds of games 3DS will need if it hopes to catch on.”?

If you do, please show me the innovative, must-have, can only play on 3DS titles. Yes the system has updated versions of gameplay I’ve already played. But where are the surprises that made DS, Wii, GBA (i.e. WarioWare), N64, SNES, and NES so memorable and must-have?

Sorry, but “Nintendo” + “same old” just doesn’t do it for me. If they ain’t gonna innovate like they normally do, I’m gonna hate. Always have always will. You’ve been warned.

35 Comments

  1. From the very base of its foundation, the 3DS is not capable of providing the same “only on DS” feel for several reasons.

    1: The screens are asymmetrical. This means no ‘one large vertical screen’ gameplay that is so sweet in DS. Why is this a problem? It makes the 3D screen its main gameplay piece, and it *limits* the gameplay instead of enhancing it. With asymmetry, you can’t have the touch screen as your main screen anymore. So many great DS games use the touch of the bottom screen for its main gameplay, which is another way the DS had that ‘only here’ feel.

    2: Power that rivals the Wii. In a strange counterproductive outcome, being a powerful machine makes game making follow a console like pattern. It becomes a portable home console that just translates games that were previously a tv experience. This makes for ports and remakes, instead of original ideas, flourish. It lessens the appeal of it as an innovation playground, and instead goes for the tested route that worked before in other places.

    3: Contradicting gameplay input: In order to use gyro controls effectively, if the 3D is on, the picture loses focus. Your -main- gimmick is already out of the game the second that movement is in place.

    4: Original games will have to come from original design -not from innovative input methods. Think about the DS best games and how they are made possible through the seamless integration of two symmetrical screens, and touch control. That kind of gameplay and design is nurtured by the unique input method. Games like Hotel Dusk that would just not be possible with that level of immersion that the DS design offer. But the 3DS doesn’t have that. Its touch screen is overshadowed by the 3D screen, so it will always stay as a secondary screen. The screens are asymmetrical, so you don’t have games like Contra 4 or Thor. For games to feel original and 3DS special, the game design itself, its ideas and core game is what has to be special, since the input and the controller isn’t special. And then, the question is, why is it on the 3DS? If you have the million dollar idea, why is it not on XBLA, PSN, WW, or Steam?

    5: 3D is not necessary. It was pretty when I saw it, but it adds nothing significant – while taking out all the things I said earlier. I don’t think it’s a good setback.

    On sales, the DS appeared in a world without smarthpone gaming or tablets. The only good game to buy for kids was the DS or a GBA. There was nothing else, and the PSP was too high end at the time for mass consumption or the younger folks. Nowadays you give them a cell phone and they are happy playing whatever it is that came out for free in the app place. Non gamers that thrived to the DS just won’t flock to the 3DS no matter what since they have been brainwashed by the new devices in town. And the DS still sells since it had years to build an enourmous library of amazing titles that are still fun to this day. The 3DS doesn’t have that advantage (like many main line pokemon titles). Basically, you have a device that non gamers don’t want, and that the hardcore don’t even want since it has no games and bad battery, and now it’s being patched. So it’s pretty tough to sell these puppies.

  2. Christmas much? Forget it. I’m not coming here any more.

    [Correction: elmer hasn’t threatened this before. Sorry. The sign editor confused him with one of the other half dozen nerds that threaten to quit but keep coming back. Nevertheless, unlike most web readers, elmer is incapable of abandoning a website he no longer likes without announcing it and will hereby be banned by way of further threatening and off-topic comments.]

  3. You guys say the same thing over and over and over. Ok we get it, you don’t like the 3DS, and you don’t think it’s going to sell. Can we please move on?

  4. Ah, there’s the pessimist piece. We’ve had way too many positive pieces. QUICK! SLANDER NINTENDO.

    [Editor’s note: Highlighting Nintendo’s poor health during level 1-2 of 3DS play is not the same as slander. Or libel.]

  5. I think when Mario Land 3d and Mario Kart come out there’ll be a pretty strong surge in sales plus they’re timed to arrive just before Christmas.

    Nintendo has really dropped the ball with the launch period for one often mentioned reason – the lack of games!!!!

    How the hell they expected this thing to sell with no actual games is beyond me. Sure the hardware itself isn’t perfect but its certainly good enough – we just need something to play on it!

  6. Someone may want to check the DS’s initial launch numbers. From what I’ve heard everywhere else, 3DS is actually selling better than DS to this point. Just expectations are high of course.

    But thanks for another Nintendo bashing. You guys did go like 20 hours without one.

  7. You tellin’ me. I come here, look in the eye, give this site another chance because of Eugene and, Bada Bing Bada Boom, Blake shows up with an “informative” post about how terrible Nintendo’s strategy is, how FEEBLE the 3DS is. How the WORLD will SOON be SONY’s. Yadayadayada. Just look at me, I’m monologuing. All because of an outdated statistic that some Nintendo “fan.” put up to entice the trolls. A group of which many of you will associate I. I deplore to you, fellow Infendonians, that we should not accept this any longer. GIVE ME INTELLIGENT PASSION, OR GIVE ME DEATH.

    … or at the very least actually post news, trailers, information about games, etc. (like Eugene’s been doing) instead of 100% Nintenhate.

  8. I don’t get what the point of these posts are. We all know the 3DS isn’t selling as well as Nintendo had hoped. In response they dropped the price and just gave us a ton of details on exciting games and announced some new ones. How can we judge whether any of these titles will be the next innovative game BEFORE we’ve even played any of them.

  9. Wait wait wait. We get a 3DS conference full of awesome trailers and announcements that look optimistic AND BLAKE STILL MANAGES TO COMPLAIN AND NAG AT NINTENDO?

    Good god if it weren’t for Eugene I wouldn’t even come here at all

    [Editor’s note: Let the record show Neil N has threatened site abandonment before. He’s still here.]

  10. I really wonder how much things would have been better if they had decided to release Pokemon Black and White for the 3DS…..

  11. I believe the 3DS will sell a ton during the holidays, yet it will still be outsold by the iPod Touch. Nintendo has shattered their momentum, which is something that Apple is very good at.

  12. LEAVE THE 3DS ALONE!

    Seriously, let it sell and stop worrying about numbers… It might take 3 years and a redesign to take off, so be it!

  13. Sorry Blake, but you put too much missinformation on a single article:

    -DS selling good at launch?
    -Prime Hunters, Kirby Canvas Curse and Nintendogs releasing close to the DS launch?
    -It’s unlikely the 3DS will sell more than 6 million? That’s totally unfounded (and fyi, yesterday, pessimist japanese investors put the number at around 14 millions).

  14. no matter how long it takes, i’m only buying a redesign.

  15. Haha. Clap harder, people! Maybe if you clap harder the dead will rise and Nintendo’s failed little portable will defy the laws of economics and common sense and become a best-seller! Clap harder! Go go go!

    LOLZ @ “slander” usage above. Are you kidding?

  16. Jack… you’re a poop face. Eat poo, you doodoo head.

  17. Artefacto you’re right. I’ve been thinking a lot about it lately… the DS is just plain better than the 3DS. And there’s dozens of awesome DS games that I still have never played… I could continue on just playing old discontinued games that I buy used on amazon for years.

    I like the 3DS alright, and I’m looking forward to Nintendo’s big first party games so I’m glad to have it, but it’s not as special a system as the DS.

  18. While I do agree that the 3ds might not make its target this year I still don’t see why people are calling it a failure. Nintendo assumed that the 3ds would sell like the ds did in its prime right away,printing money,but instead the numbers are similar to the first year of the ds.

    The argument that the upcoming games aren’t orginal enough seems flawed to me. While ya Prime Hunters, Kirby, and Nintendogs were innovated only Nintendogs is in the millions sold. In fact Kirby Super Star, more or less what you expect from a Kirby game, outsold it greatly. Fact is innovated games doesn’t=success.

    Here is a list of upcomming games on how their older versions did:
    Mario Land: New Super Mario sold 26.88 million the 64 version still managed 9.65m
    Mario Kart: Mario Kart DS sold 21.04 million
    Animal Crossing: The DS version sold 10.79million

    Those are just the game we have seen with ds games, I did not mention Monster Hunter 3g and 4(you think Japan won’t buy that?)Kid Icarus, Cave Story, Luigi’s Mansion, Super Smash Bros, Resident Evil, Kingdom Hearts, Mario and Sonic Olympics, Dragon Quest,Metal Gear, Mario Tennis, Fire Emblem, Paper Mario, apparently that Miku girl sells like crazy.

    Thats just a list of known games comming out. Theres also will eventually be Pokemon, a non remake Zelda, WarioWare, Metroid, Mario and Luigi RPG, Brain Age, etc.

    Once we get toward the holiday season and all the Moms see the 3ds on Toy’r us, gamestop, etc catalog and Mario Land and Mario Kart are out then I believe we will have a better perspective on how the system will turn out.

  19. I second XCWarrior‘s motion for Blake to look up the DS sales numbers on its first quarter/year… If I recall correctly, the DS sales were not very good for its first six months. Not until Nintendogs showed up. I also remember buying my DS phat on launch day, only to have it gather dust until the awesome Meteos came out. During those months, it was the GBA SP that took its place. I now own more than four dozen DS games and my DSi is never far away from me. I suspect that the 3DS will have a similar transition if Nintendo plays its cards well.

    Having said that, I do agree with Blake and Artefacto about the DS gaming library being many times better than the exclusive 3DS library, thus cannibalizing 3DS sales, and I will even say it’s worse: even the new DS games coming up in the next year have titles that are more or at least as exciting than the ones announced for the 3DS (Kirby Mass Attack, Aliens: Infestation, Devil Survivor 2, etc.).

  20. @InvisibleMan

    Metroid Prime Hunters demo came out in 2004. I bought my DS Phat in Jan 2005 because of it. That demo alone did more to justify the gameplay enhancements of the DS than anything on the 3DS so far or even within the next 6-8 months.

    Canvas Curse, a mind-blowing game only made possible by stylus control, released seven months after the DS’s Nov. 2004 release. Nintendogs released nine months after the DS, when things skyrockted.

    Are those with their panties in a bunch really suggesting the 3DS will have similar demos or “made better by 3D” games by month 0 (last march), month 7 (this oct) or month 9 (this dec)? From what I have played, Super Mario Land 3D and Mario Kart 7 do not benefit at all from 3D, nor do the titles the company is prepping for early 2012 (Kid Icarus).

    Furthermore, do those with their panties in a bunch really disagree with the article’s takeaway that “Those are the kinds of games 3DS will need if it hopes to catch on.”?

    If you do, please show me the innovative, must-have, can only play on 3DS titles. Yes the system has updated versions of gameplay I’ve already played. But where are the surprises that made DS, Wii, GBA (i.e. WarioWare), N64, SNES, and NES so memorable and must-have?

    Sorry, but “Nintendo” + “same old” just doesn’t do it for me. If they ain’t gonna innovate like they normally do, I’m gonna hate. Always have always will. You’ve been warned.

  21. while i cant say i enjoy hate posts, everything you say here is true. and what i like about this instead of all them “jack posts” is you used real numbers and facts instead of just saying how much you hate Nintendo all the time. *hint jacks like past 5 articals

  22. the [Editor’s note] thing is hostile, defensive, and unnecessary.

    it hijacks the end of someone else’s comment to show just who is in charge. the “Editor” has the power, huh? How about the Editor use his actual Infendo name? Why hide behind “Editor”?

    Why not just change the comment itself? Or how about using the person’s tag to leave stupid posts. (oh wait, did the editors want something new to do? They’ve already hijacked people’s tags. I guess that’s now passé)

    Here’s an idea: Infendo editors could leave ALL the comments from here on out. Then they wouldn’t have to put their notes in at the end of others’ comments.

  23. @Blake

    This is where is comes down to opinion(s). Show me something else you are buying RIGHT NOW that has Face Raiders or the AR games built into it. These are two great examples that I am going to segue the conversation in another direction: both of these are examples of the kind of quick, not overly deep, gameplay you get on your iDevices for cheap (or in this case, free). Notice how the fun didn’t last? So, I guess, proven yet again, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

    More back on topic as it were. Let’s also look at SSFIV3D. Can’t get that experience anywhere else. Period. Why? SF has not been released in 3D on anything else nor have they done the “over-the-shoulder” fighting for any other system. But let me guess, because you didn’t like it you can ignore this example, right?

    Now, let’s not go so…..deep for an example. How about Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion or Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D. One is a pretty unoriginal clone of a beloved game that has no equal or representation in the handheld space at all (Super Smash Brothers) and the other is a compilation of (essentially) mini-games from other products with some new content thrown in. You know what? YOU CAN’T GET THOSE EXPERIENCES (handheld) ANYWHERE ELSE!!

    Now, if you, or anyone else, wanted to argue that the 3DS doesn’t have enough content FOR YOU that is one thing that no one can argue. But to say it doesn’t have content or it is just nothing special that you can replicate elsewhere is a bit of a misnomer.

    I am happy with my 3DS and I only own two retail 3DS games: I haven’t even been able to download my Ambassador’s Program content yet. Has it been perfect? HELL NO! The eShop has continually disappointed me (in every incarnation from Wii Shop to DSi Shop to this eShop). The promise of 3D movies has still not been seen. (Where’s my How to Train Your Dragon 3D or Toy Story 3D or even Avatar 3D?) And it still baffles me how not only did you (Nintendo) not give me a Mario game at launch (How many times will it take you to learn that this is a bad idea?) but one of the biggest touted games at announcement has been delayed (again) to nearly 10 months after launch!!! (Looking at you, Kid.) But that doesn’t mean that the system has nothing NOW. Lastly, though even I feel it is a….sad argument to have to use but if you love your DS games so much, the 3DS CAN STILL PLAY THEM!!

    Closing note: I have never once threatened to quit this site and don’t see it happening anytime: I come here because it is a pretty good and decent Nintendo news site but it is much easier to actually discuss the news here than on many other sites. However, do the editor’s need to resort to some of the same childish antics as some of the readers? I am, of course, looking at the “wonderful” editor’s notes put into some people’s comments. Poor sportsmanship gentlemen.

  24. Also (kind of @Blake) but I looked again at the examples you gave for must-have games that “justified” the DS. Know what? I have only even played one of them (Metroid Prime Hunters), didn’t really enjoy it, and found nothing even appealing in the other two. (Not only did I not really enjoy Metroid Prime Hunters, but between it and the one other FPS I was conned into trying it has me sold on the Analog Slide Pad add-on for the 3DS: those controls are ATROCIOUS to me.) I do, however, have enough DS games that for 2009 those games alone made me a Platinum Status Club Nintendo member (just pointing out that I do love the system). On the flip note, I have said before and will say again, I bought ONE launch title (Samurai Warriors Chronicles) and have logged over 100 hours of near-daily play and have yet to be dissatisfied with it. This just highlights what I am saying about the differences of people’s tastes.

    @Deepthought
    I know I am not an editor or even anybody with….authority, but I would like to suggest or recommend to you the same thing I did for the actual editors: no need to be so overly aggressive or derisive. That is not the kind of attitude that ANYONE needs displayed (at least not publicly). Send them an email complaint: they do check them and answer them (or at least the acknowledged the last one I sent).

  25. @Artefacto
    This is true.

    @Everyone else (mostly)
    I wouldn’t call what we’ve been seeing on the site lately “hate” posts…it’s just concern for the direction Nintendo is taking. I myself have been highly skeptical towards the company lately.

  26. Blake, why don’t you stop hating on Nintendo every five minutes and try posting some news once in a while. I mean come on, I’m fine with a post that points out the what Nintendo is doing wrong, but Blake, most of your posts are just saying what’s wrong with Nintendo, and how they should fix it. Come on

  27. @RisnDevil

    every now and then the “Editor” here doesn’t seem to play nice. this isn’t the first time. you can be sweet and civil all you want. i like to speak my mind. but if you want to see someone call out the hostility on this site, look at my posts on jack’s first articles. Back when he was a fanman and not a the piriah he has become around here, I was requesting the hostility be toned down. it didn’t work. i like the news here. i like some members of the community. But I’ll still speak my mind. I think you should too. I do not believe I was overly aggressive or derisive above. And I’ll never leave behind my sarcasm! Cheers! 🙂

    with regards to the article, i had no problems with blake’s perspective or the way he expressed it in the article. I mostly dislike what I see as abuse of power.

  28. @Holly,

    no, a lot of it is pretty much hate

  29. and the editor’s notes? cheap shots guys. Nice to know Infendo is finding innovating new ways to stoop to new lows.

  30. I agree with those who say Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7 and various other good 3DS games will up the console’s sales. I mean, with the sales of past games in their respective series, I see no way those two alone couldn’t sell millions of 3DS consoles.

    Now, it won’t mean the ridiculous targets set will be met, because well, no console is going to sell 12 million copies in four months at the current rate the 3DS is going. But I don’t think the 3DS will fail overall.

    P.S. Metroid Prime Hunters? I liked that game a lot, but it was pretty much just like the past games bar the multiplayer. Out of those listed, neither that or Canvas Curse were exactly million selling successes as far as I know, probably bad to compare them to Wii Sports and Nintendogs. Also, a WarioWare game might come next year for all we know, I wouldn’t be surprised.

  31. @Blake. I see your points here, but they are outdated. I recently heard the sales were already over the 6mill point in Japan. I honestly have no hostility towards your thoughts (unlike Jack, who should be blocked from posting on this site depending on who the domain owner is) but I would like to see some news posted by you from time to time. Also you need to get Derrick to start doing reviews again.

  32. [Editor’s note: Comment marked as spam/deleted, as will all future comments threatening abandonment. Just leave unannounced, please, and don’t come back to say you’re leaving again. It’s against comment rules for being “off topic.” See rules below.]

  33. You tell em’ Blake.

    The software currently is mediocre, and the future doesn’t look too bright either. But then again it’s tough beating Mario Kart DS.

    In the hands of a non-lazy company, Mario Kart 3DS would have been exciting.

  34. Is this what Infendo has come to?

  35. @Jericho
    Yes. The website’s favorite gaming company is an a royal funk (somewhere between virtual boy and gamecube bad) and some of its readers’ heads are exploding as a result. Really though, maybe if Infendo censored the negative news, Nintendo would make must-have 3DS games. That sounds about right. Hold Ifendo accountable, not Nintendo.

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