Nintendo's New 3DS Aims for the Hardcore, But Is Bound to Create Confusion

With some games being exclusive to this version of 3DS, Nintendo could be creating problems for itself.

The New 3DS (right) and New 3DS XL

That another revision of a Nintendo handheld system is coming is no real surprise--routine hardware refreshes have been part of the company's business model for upwards of two decades (the DS had four different designs, for example). But the latest versions of the 3DS announced today, intriguing as their potential is, seem likely to create confusion.

The New Nintendo 3DS, as it's being called, offers a suite of new features: an analog nub (the new C-Stick), additional ZL and ZR shoulder buttons, improved 3D (no longer do you need a protractor to properly line your head up with the screen for it to work, Nintendo claims), integrated NFC support for Amiibo, and a faster CPU. It comes in standard and XL (or LL, as it's called in Japan) sizes.

With the possible exception of Amiibo, these are primarily things of interest to a more hardcore audience. And that's interesting in light of what Shigeru Miyamoto had to say recently, when he suggested Nintendo may focus more on core games, as opposed to those for people with only a "passive" interest in games. "In the days of DS and Wii, Nintendo tried its best to expand the gaming population," he said in an interview with Edge. "Fortunately, because of the spread of smart devices, people take games for granted now. It's a good thing for us, because we do not have to worry about making games something that are relevant to general people's daily lives."

This New 3DS shows Nintendo is indeed more serious about gunning for the hardcore audience, and less concerned with expanding to a broader audience with its every move. I can't imagine a casual player will suddenly be compelled to buy a 3DS because it now has the buttons and hardware to handle more advanced games.

For others, some of these additions make the system very exciting. I know I want one (though I'm a poor barometer for these things, considering I bought a PSP Go at launch). The improved hardware, in particular, makes me hopeful that we'll finally see Virtual Console games from the Super Nintendo land on 3DS. Extra buttons and the integrated C-Stick means some functions don't need to be relegated to the touchscreen, and there's no longer a need to use the Circle Pad Pro. The placement of the C-Stick--which reminds me of the Wii U GamePad--is not where I would have liked to see it, but those new, Super Famicom-style face buttons on the regular-sized system (see below) are gorgeous, and only a limited number of games will use the C-Stick anyway.

Even if SNES games on Virtual Consoles don't happen, Nintendo is already ensuring the faster CPU is put to use for more than just speeding up system navigation and downloads. Acclaimed Wii RPG Xenoblade Chronicles will be ported to 3DS, but only to these new systems--and that's where I think Nintendo is creating problems. It's not the first time a revision of a handheld has been the only one to play certain software (see: the DSi and DSiWare), but with a game like Xenoblade, we're no longer talking about small, download-only games being exclusive to a certain model.

With the release of this latest version of the 3DS, we'll have a situation where you have the 3DS, 2DS, and New 3DS. The 3DS can play 3DS games, but not New 3DS games; the 2DS can play 3DS (in 2D), but not New 3DS games; and the New 3DS can play all 3DS games (except, as Siliconera's translation of a Q&A notes, for something like Pokemon Tretta Lab, which requires external hardware made for the 3DS and 3DS XL). If you don't think that is going to confuse consumers--particularly the more casual audience that helped Nintendo to dominate the industry with the Wii and DS--I'd remind you that many people thought the Wii U was a Wii accessory.

Just the name "New 3DS" is likely to confuse people who might be led to believe that it, along with its New 3DS-only games, is an entirely separate system from the existing 3DS. Nintendo has shown in the past it's cognizant of the possibility of confusing the public with too many 3DS models, so I'm surprised by the way this new system is being handled. These new systems may be geared toward the hardcore audience, but its existence can still confuse the public at large.

The New 3DS will be launched later this year in Japan, with a European launch to follow sometime in 2015. Nintendo of America refuses to say whether it will bring the new models to North America, and while that has to be frustrating for those wondering whether they should simply import one, I think it's actually a smart decision to avoid talking about it this fall. There are already three basic models--the 3DS, 3DS XL, and 2DS--available to consumers in a variety of colors and bundles, and there's no reason to complicate things by changing things up with new options. If or when these two systems come to North America, they need to take the place of the existing 3DS and 3DS XL models, should that not already be the plan for all markets.

Games are ultimately what will help sell the New 3DS, and I wonder whether it'll receive the support from developers to make it a worthwhile upgrade for existing 3DS owners. Xenoblade is well and good, but people will want more than just a port of a several-year-old Wii RPG to justify the system. Developers, meanwhile, will likely want a sizable install base before devoting resources to a game that can only be played on these specific models. It's a similar problem to the one faced by Wii U; Nintendo's attempted solution in that case is to develop desirable, high-profile games like Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. that will (hopefully) sell hardware, which will in turn lead to more third-party support and subsequently even more hardware sales.

It'll be interesting to see if Nintendo decides to take a similar tact of developing New 3DS-only games in its franchises--imagine what a new 2D Metroid could do for sales--or if it'll be content to largely treat this like a standard hardware revision.

Chris Pereira is a freelance writer for GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @TheSmokingManX
For all of GameSpot's news coverage, check out our hub. Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Twitter/Xbox Live/PSN/Nintendo Network: TheSmokingManX

Discussion

638 comments
mauroaugusto
mauroaugusto

Nintendo is no longer even near that name, hardcore, for many years now and it will never be again.

starjay009
starjay009

Nintendo is the KING of handhelds ! Hands down. Respect to you great company. 

JoInfo
JoInfo

All this worry for nothing. The 3DS and the 3DSXL will not be obsolete because of this. A HANDFUL of games will be compatible with the new buttons, and knowing Nintendo, they will find another work-around like the circle pad pro to make people not feel left out. I still have faith. Nintendo is probably the most backwards-compatible friendly gaming company out there.

rushiosan
rushiosan

This is probably the successor of 3DS system. Amiibos are coming to stay for a long time (hopefully) and there isn't a real need to improve anything in the system other than what we saw on New 3DS. A whole new model would mean an expensive product to play portable games, and Nintendo don't want to compete with $200 deluxe phones. 3DS is surviving pretty well in the market and didn't rely on connectivity with home consoles like Vita to rise from the grave.

bamvsgame
bamvsgame

I got myself a 2DS the other day because I know the N3DS is coming soon and I don't want to miss out on nintendo games becaus of that.

yahyakun
yahyakun

Nintendo cares for us hardcore gamers. Sakurai, on the other hand, does not.

randallsama
randallsama

How are people confused by WiiU and New 3DS, but not say PS2 to PS3 or Xbox to Xbox 360?

daBrokenFace
daBrokenFace

Nintendo sure knows how to confuse people with their product names, it will sell bad like the wii u

rarson
rarson

How about they just call it the 3DSi? Problem solved.

shyshyshy
shyshyshy

What if you just bought a new 3ds...and get this, it's the last version of the earlier iteration of your original 3ds...the one you thought was going to be an upgrade of the original 3ds that you owned.  If you ask me, that's still screwing people over...

x_vash_x
x_vash_x

Life is good for a PC gamer and his Nvidia Shield. 

rasterror
rasterror

As much as I love my 3DS and asked for improvements, this is a poor design. They should've lowered the ABXY buttons to the level of the D pad and added a full size analog stick. The additional L and R bumpers weren't really necessary and they could've put them on the back.

gouldjw
gouldjw

Chris, I think you meant, "take a similar tack".  It's a sailing metaphor.  See definition 2b under "transitive verb":  http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tack


Second, I'm getting one the day it comes out in the U.S.  Woo hoo!  I don't "need a protractor" to see my current 3DS properly, but I am excited for the improved processor and viewing angles.

SilentAssassin
SilentAssassin

I think the developers will keep the games running at a power that all 3DS's can handle so they will not compromise sales.. but that's my opinion.. and I'm smart.

AluminumAndroid
AluminumAndroid

Looks awesome.

Definitely getting one for sure,

Not too many games coming for consoles any time soon.

brucemoto
brucemoto

Besides creating confusion, Nintendo is fragmenting the market.  They could have avoided the situation entirely if they had included the CPU and button enhancements in the last 3ds xl model (that's when I first purchased my 3ds).  And people with the original 3ds would likely have upgraded because it would have been a significant improvement.  Then, the original and 2d models would eventually be discontinued, and there would just be a single xl model. Of course, Nintendo didn't have the foresight to do this.  Alternatively, they should have have designged a system with more power and buttons to begin with, like Sony did with the Vita.

crymore_noob
crymore_noob

why not making Wii U powerful as PS4/Xboxone? Then you have your crazy exclusives + alpha. Also please remove regional codes.. It is just retarded policy.

tannerhendo
tannerhendo

You'd think that Nintendo would release a revised "New" Wii U before the already perfectly fine, awesome selling 3DS if anything. Adding enhanced console specs to the Wii U that can help it compete with their competition making it able for third parties to release "next-gen" games with "next-gen" graphics that they're already making for Xbox One and PS4 on Wii U seems to make much more sense than to add enhanced power and all to the 3DS.


Yeah, the 3DS is underpowered compared to the Vita. But should Nintendo care? No, not at all, considering that they have sold 4 times+ more 3DS consoles than Vita's in the same amount of time. So my question to Nintendo is why are you doing this? Yeah it's going to sell huge but why would you choose to affect 40+ million of your consumers that already own the current 3DS lineup rather than affect the much smaller Wii U user base of 6 million, which would give you a possible chance to get back into the home console game? Rather than possibly screw up your chances with the hand held market that you already crush the competition in in? 


My point here is that none of us really expected Nintendo to pull a Sega with one of their consoles and we wished they wouldn't have in the first place for their own sake, but they did and they did it with the wrong console.

If it ain't broke don't fix it. The 3DS by no means ain't broke. The Wii U, on the third party side of things is. You should've tried to win back the hearts of third parties for the struggling console if anything Nintendo, show them you really do mean business and your not a console for just children. The 3DS was fine as it was. 


IanNottinghamX
IanNottinghamX

I dont really agree with the above statement. If you looked at all of Nintendos previous handhelds this move shouldnt be a surprise at all. Nintendo did this with gameboy color, Dsi, and ds lite and this was all after releasing a plethora of color variants.

Besides 3ds had been around since what? 2010? isnt it time for an upgrade?

Jag-T1000
Jag-T1000

Yes, nintendo we are all stupid. We will buy your new system even though you just made my 3ds obsolete. I'm glad we all have low IQ's because otherwise we would all be mad at you. 

rey2
rey2

They'll probably re-brand it as 3DSi more likely once their product board meeting rolls around.

SoNinCroft
SoNinCroft

Judging for the comments: If they take a long time to send it to America it is because the most of their consumers are 1D10t5 that don't know how to buy. Do not take this bad, it is just your natural consumerism that made you like that. Otherwise you would not have problem identifying what you buy and what goes on what you buy :D

rmiller365
rmiller365

This shouldn't be a problem but it will be. Its the consumer's job to know what they are buying before they buy it. People need to do research before they buy a new car, computer, console, or phone so why should a handheld be any different?

If a consumer buys a product without really knowing what it is then that's the consumer's fault.

We have the internet so there is no excuse for not having the necessary information for a product.

Too-DementeD
Too-DementeD

That's completely stupid. I like the look of the new 3DS, but making games exclusive to it is a no-go.
I thought they would have learnt not to confuse consumers when it came to their consoles, but I guess not.

"Just the name "New 3DS" is likely to confuse people who might be led to believe that it, along with its New 3DS-only games, is an entirely separate system from the existing 3DS. "

It's more likely that people are going to think the New 3DS is just a newer model of the usual 3DS, and then they'll go out and buy games like Xenoblade Chronicles for their current 3DS, only to find out it doesn't work unless they have the New 3DS. I foresee a lot of people getting angry at Nintendo when this releases.

Hobbes444
Hobbes444

You know I thought MS would have a hard time dealing with going from the Xbox 360 to the *new* Xbox. I see Nintendo's Product Model Name Manager still hasn't been fired yet.

*Goes into GameStop*

"I want a 3DS."

"Would you like a new 3DS? A new New 3DS? a Used New 3DS? A new 3Ds XL? A New new 3DS XL? a Used New 3DS XL? or  used 3DS?"

"Wait what? Could you repeat all that?"

"Sure, would you like a new 3DS......."

bhffs
bhffs

@randallsama Is that a serious question? Numerical increases in iteration is probably the simplest and most obvious example of improvement. PS3 is obviously more advanced than PS2. But go ask an average joe if they know the difference between a Wii and a Wii U, or a DS and a DSi. Nintendo seriously needs to understand how simple and important this is. 

Rotondi
Rotondi

@rarson They still could.  The name hasn't been confirmed yet for Western markets.

Rotondi
Rotondi

@shyshyshy If you buy a piece of technology, and you think it's the last iteration ever, then you're a complete imbecile.

rasterror
rasterror

Are you Sony fanboys that miserable? Why don't you go play Russian roulette with a .45.

zhangyahsk
zhangyahsk

@paulretha I have like the "Nancyliu1" ,Here i will like you. You are all reasonable ! Maybe more people like your reply !

rasterror
rasterror

That would alienate so many people and leave a bad taste in Wii U owner's mouths. Plus it would cost Nintendo millions upon millions to remake another console, especially so soon. Plus a powerful console automatically make a great console.

Adriel_Trigger
Adriel_Trigger

@IanNottinghamX If it's an upgrade that will segregate customers, no, it's not the time. This kind of move is unprecedented. From GBC to GBA we had a full generation transition. Same goes for GBA to DS. DS, DS Lite and DSi coexisted very well, and did so because no new iteration of its family was superior in the core of the hardware to the others. They ran pretty much the same content. But now it's almost like Nintendo is releasing a whole new portable device and telling us it's from the same generation/family of the consoles we already got. There's no comparison at all between this and the past situations.

Rotondi
Rotondi

@Jag-T1000 I've said it once, I'll say it again.  Take that 3DS and toss it in the garbage.  It's no good now.  Actually, when the new 3DS hits the market officially, I heard all the original 3DS units will power down and the memory will be wiped.  

randallsama
randallsama

@bhffs @randallsama It seems obvious too me. I mean, it would be one thing if the US had received the Nintendo 64 DD or something, but it didn't. Think of say, Dragon Ball Z comes after Dragon Ball, or iPhone 4 then 4S, or Windows XP to Vista. Yes, a logical number progression would make sense, but a leap from Xbox to Xbox 360 to Xbox One doesn't, and hurts your argument. From your point of few people are still confused as the difference between the NES and the Super NES. They've been doing this for 30 years, you'd think people would understand it by now.

Fuzaki
Fuzaki

@Rotondi That's obviously not the problem, the problem is that Nintendo screws over people, like what Apple does, with these iterations that have barely any significant changes but restrict people from certain features. I just won't understand how people keep buying into this corporate scheme. 

shyshyshy
shyshyshy

@Rotondi @shyshyshy you sound like you are a rich person...good for you if you have money to burn.  apparently, not only am i an imbecile, but i am also a person who values money like its a hard earned cash.  in my 'opinion' that's still screwing someone over. and you would say, i guess, that nobody is forcing you to buy their products.  yup, nobody is forcing me to buy their products, but i would have been a very happy customer if i haven't been screwed over....lol....if i had money then i would buy the next iteration but i don't.


this is one way of truly alienating your customers...unlike maybe you Rotondi, you're probably rich and can have everything you want...

canuckbiker
canuckbiker

Not a fanboy of anything. Just a consumer that buys according to my needs. No company has, or ever will, gained my absolute loyalty. I'm interested in what non-fanboy Nintendo consumers think of this. I suggest you take your own advise loser, except fill all the chambers, and don't stop until it's emptied into that hallow head of yours.

Martyr77
Martyr77

@zhangyahsk @paulretha  Stop spamming advertising on this site. It is obvious this is the same user with four different accounts. We don't want your stupid stuff here.


Mods can you do something about this?

Fuzaki
Fuzaki

@randallsama @bhffs I understand for the Wii U, but Nintendo has released way too many new iterations of the DS. i.e. DS to DS Lite to DSi to DSi XL, from 3DS to 3DS XL to 2DS to new 3DS. The fact that make continuous new models with barely any changes is what is confusing, and infuriating for me, honestly. They know that they can do this, , especially in Japan, and continue to do so, while restricting some games (like with the Motion-plus).

Rotondi
Rotondi

@Jag-T1000 @Rotondi There's a rumor going around that when the N3DS hits the shelves, Nintendo HQ has ordered that all the original 3DS units to be morphed into a chew toy for dogs.  Now, I don't know about you, but I don't like the sound of this one bit.  Sure, my 3DS is cool with like tons of games on it and the entire DS library too.  But I don't want no chew toy.  

canuckbiker
canuckbiker

Might as well. With more powerful hardware, and a slew of extra buttons, how many new games do you think are going to developed for the old 3ds a year from now? The more you defend this blatant consumer abuse, the more foolish you look.