Last September, Nintendo predicted that the 3DS would sell 4 million units by April 2011, the end of its fiscal year. However, when the company offered its annual report earlier this week, it revealed that just 3.61 million units of the three-dimensional handheld have been sold, well below expectations.
In a presentation following its report, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata put some of the blame on the 3DS shortfall on the tragic earthquake and tsunami in Japan, which disrupted the country's economy in March.
However, he also said that, "There are other challenges that have shown up; therefore, we have revised our scenario for diffusion and are making efforts to get the popularity of Nintendo 3DS back on track for the upcoming summer season."
As for the US market, Iwata said that the "Nintendo 3DS started very well but, on the other hand, did not perform as expected after the second week." He said the situation was similar in Europe, where "sales were high in the initial week, but sales fell below our expectations after the second week."
Iwata went on to explain why Nintendo thinks the 3DS is selling below expectations. "It is clear from our market research that many people feel that they 'want' and 'want to buy' Nintendo 3DS, and the latest demand for this device is the largest in comparison with our previous new platforms at the time of their launches, but on the other hand, there is a big proposition that not that many people believe 'Now is the time to buy it!' The penetration will not gain speed without overcoming this challenge."
Iwata also said that, "We recognize that we are in a situation where we need to step up our efforts to further promote the spread of Nintendo 3DS. The way to solve this problem lies in how to communicate 'what kind of games can be played,' as long as Nintendo 3DS is a gaming device. There might be consumers who are interested in Nintendo 3DS, but they are unable to find software, which they want to play, and they are in the 'wait-and-see mode.'"
Besides increased marketing, Iwata thinks the way to push gamers over the tipping point from wanting to buy the 3DS to actually purchasing it is to make them aware of the upcoming software lineup for the handheld. That lineup includes Dead or Alive Dimensions (May 24), The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (June 19), Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D (June 28), and Kid Icarus: Uprising (post-summer), amongst others.