What is Going On With New Nintendo 3DS?

Today’s Nintendo Direct should have been a celebration. While we did get numerous game and amiibo announcements that were exciting, there was still one large elephant in the room: the New Nintendo 3DS XL. It launches in North America on February 13th sans both a charger cable and the smaller companion handheld, the New Nintendo 3DS. Its omission from one single market in the world raises many questions about Nintendo’s ill treatment of its largest market.

Nintendo of America has always taken the road of most resistance. They give us a red New 3DS XL, but not the blue one available worldwide. They launch the New 3DS XL, but not the standard New 3DS. Why waste manufacturing resources on a new color sold only in one market, when it would have been much easier to bring over the blue model that’s made everywhere else? Why ignore the cash cow of the New 3DS’ face plates? When asked by Kotaku about why North American Nintendo fans were getting gypped, they had this to say:

Different territories make their own business decisions regarding individual products and timing. We think New Nintendo 3DS XL makes the most sense for our market. Nintendo makes different systems at different price points for a whole range of consumers, and New Nintendo 3DS XL simply expands those choices even further.

That’s right, NoA. Every different territory…except you! You may notice that Nintendo has no qualms about launching the sleek and compact New 3DS in Japan, Australia, and Europe. Those fans get plenty of everything, while we in the States are left with nothing. This mistreatment of North America is nothing new. Just like the short supply of amiibo and the GameCube adapter this past holiday, NoA has found some way to foul up their product launches in North America every single time.

When the 3DS XL launched in 2012, the only colors launched in North America were, wait for it, Blue and Red. Everywhere else got the option (or eventually did) of picking up extra colors at launch, including an all-white unit and a sleek silver unit. That special Pikachu model that launched worldwide in late-2012 was held back in North America until March the next year. And when it came out, it was in such short supply, it was gone within a day. Sound familiar?

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Europe drinks our tears of envy

 

There are several possibilities as to why NoA shortchanges its own market time and again. The North American continent is a lot larger than all other regions for the company, so distribution must be an issue from time to time on “niche” products. As we’ve learned with the amiibo situation, Nintendo must have to fight hard for shelf space in a region where PlayStation and Xbox are more appealing to retailers to sell to the masses (at this time). Additionally, anecdotal sales evidence points to the New 3DS XL outselling the smaller version 2:1 when it launched in Japan, so that may have influenced their decision to bring the “safer bet” to our shores.

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But those alone cannot be the only answer. What this decision to exclude one region from the New 3DS reeks of penny pinching. Those face plates that define the New 3DS must cost a lot to produce, in an era where Nintendo is trying to cut costs and make the most money in the cheapest way (hence, amiibo’s importance in 2015). And the New 3DS XL’s performance was mostly weighted by the fact that Monster Hunter 4G had a system bundle in Japan, and that game is a monster over there. NoA is simply using dubious evidence to justify their actions, with no transparency on the matter.

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The troubles of the North American retail environment are why we can’t have nice things

NoA has a bad habit of underestimating the demand for their products. “Forget the Marth amiibo, we’ll make way too many Mario ones that nobody wants”. “We’ll undercut our audience by making Limited Editions that sell out, forever, in 15 minutes. And now, the New 3DS is the latest controversy in their sad approach to marketing and manufacturing. This decision to limit the variety of their products ironically limits their appeal to consumers. This isn’t a problem for Nintendo’s other branches, so it’s clearly time for the company to re-evaluate their priorities to their biggest fans.

Additionally, Nintendo further said they had “nothing to announce at this time” for the North American release of the New 3DS. Better get started on an Operation Rainfall-style campaign.

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Editor-in-Chief (Former)

A man with a plan. My favorite video game franchise is Pokemon, but his favorite video game is Resident Evil 4. I can also tell you trivial cartoon factoids.