Out of all three current gaming console manufacturers, Nintendo stands out as the one with the most mind share among consumers. Its consoles have never had a problem with reliability, its exclusives consistently deliver, and it has been careful about how its introduced post-release DLC. In a way, it’s been a role model for others gaming companies.
But with today’s New 3DS announcement I’m not so sure about where it’s going in the future. This doesn’t seem to be the Nintendo I remember.
I’ve come to the conclusion that the New 3DS hasn’t been designed with consumers in mind. Below we’ll go over why.
You want options? Too bad
If you recall back to the original New 3DS announcement (seen below), you may remember the emphasis placed on swappable faceplates. Having a customizable option is something that is becoming common for devices, with the PlayStation 4 similarly having faceplates, and the upcoming Apple Watch arriving with a wide variety of first-party bands. These serve as an inexpensive way for consumers to tailor their favorite devices to suit their tastes.
Nintendo has spent a lot of time talking about faceplates.
The problem is that North America will only get one New 3DS option, and it’s the New 3DS XL. The New 3DS XL doesn’t support faceplate swapping, so consumers will be stuck with only two color options at launch, neither of which stand out nearly as much as their New 3DS counterparts.
While not being able to take advantage of one of the hottest features of the new generation of 3DS might not be a big deal to everyone, the fact remains that there’s only one purchase option for North American consumers looking to grab the latest device. In my case it’s important because I can’t stand how my blue 3DS XL looks, and don’t care for either of the default colors of the New 3DS XL. As a matter of fact, I invested $20 in a GelaSkin to cover its hideousness. If only it had swappable faceplates…
A dirty secret
When consumers walk home with the New 3DS XL on February 13th, they’re in for a big surprise unless they did their research.
The New 3DS XL is the first in the 3DS line to not include an AC adapter with purchase in North America. This means that anyone who buys the device who either doesn’t already have an adapter laying around, or spends the $9.99 necessary to buy one, won’t be able to charge their new device.
Don’t forget to checkout with one of these in your cart.
Though, the AC adapter from the DSi and previous 3DS SKUs will be supported. The problem with this mentality of “you should have one around the house” is that it’s unrealistic for Nintendo to believe that consumers are going to hold onto their old device and AC adapter when making the transition. I’d be willing to bet that most consumers will be trading in their older 3DS for the New 3DS XL, and places like GameStop won’t accept the trade if it doesn’t come bundled with the AC adapter.
…it’s unrealistic for Nintendo to believe that consumers are going to hold onto their old device and AC adapter when making the transition.
Made worse, the New 3DS XL hasn’t even had its price point affected by the removal of the AC adapter as it’s a full blown $199.99 MSRP—that’s half a PS4, folks. So, as Sony did with its PS Vita memory cards, Nintendo is going to push the costs of the accessory to its customers.
I’m willing to bet that Nintendo won’t make it very obvious that the package doesn’t include an AC adapter, either. It better be ready for a flood of customer support phone calls.
“Exclusive to the New 3DS”
One can argue that the 3DS version of Xenoblade Chronicles is the hottest upcoming product for the 3DS family—next to The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. Well, if you want to play it, you have to get the New 3DS XL. That’s right, there will be exclusive software for the New 3DS XL that will not be playable on the older 3DS SKUs, meaning that you will have to put down $199.99 if you want to consume these big games.
You’ll need to upgrade to play this bad boy.
At a price of $199.99, it’s a lot for Nintendo to ask, especially for a device that isn’t a significant jump from the other 3DS models that over 50 million consumers have already invested in. While Nintendo is touting the improved 3D, faster processing, and introduction of the C-stick on the New 3DS XL as upgrade worthy, they really aren’t. These are subtle upgrades that make the nearly $200 upgrade a tough sell, especially when the 3DS is late into its development cycle and a next-generation console can be purchased for just $150 more on a good day.
All in all, the New 3DS move by Nintendo seems like an act of desperation. The truth is that the Wii U is an unsuccessful console, and the 3DS is in decline. So, you can look at the New 3DS XL as an income-focused push by Nintendo to appease its shareholders, one that arrives just a couple months after the introduction of Amiibos. It might work out for it financially, but in some cases it’ll be at the cost of the consumer.