To many, it would be a dream come true if Nintendo finally released a device that served as both their mobile and home console. Popular DS and 3DS series like Pokemon and Fire Emblem would finally be playable on your TV screen, while the big console titles could also be enjoyed anywhere you go.
With the unveiling of the Nintendo Switch, people thought this was finally in Nintendo’s plans. Since the Switch’s main feature is a tablet-like screen that you can take anywhere, the new console would be perfect for supporting cross-platform play.
Instead, Nintendo has announced that the 3DS line isn’t going anywhere after the launch of Switch. The news was made clear by President Kimishima during Nintendo’s second quarter earnings release:
Mr. Kimishima reiterated his remark on 3DS today: will continue supporting it and make games for it. Switch isn't a 3DS replacement. https://t.co/P2gSDcxSes
— Takashi Mochizuki (@mochi_wsj) October 26, 2016
Many are now asking why Nintendo didn’t prepare Switch to replace the 3DS. But when you think about it, it begs the question: why would Nintendo abandon their massive handheld fan base?
It seems like just yesterday the Nintendo DS took the handheld gaming market by storm. Despite concerns about having to look at two screens to play, the DS line (all models included) went on to sell more than 154 million units.
Its successor, the Nintendo 3DS, struggled its first few years but eventually found its footing. With more than 58 million units sold as of March 2016, it stands as the top handheld gaming console available today. It’s closest competitor, the PlayStation Vita, has only sold about 4 million units worldwide.
Do you see where we’re getting at? Despite the rise of smartphone gaming making a dent in the dedicated handheld gaming device market, there are still millions of people out there with a 3Ds device in their possession.
By phasing out their handheld-only devices, they’d risk losing many fans who like the 3DS but decide not to pick up the Nintendo Switch. Worth mentioning is that while the Wii U struggled to sell, the Nintendo 3DS (and 2DS) kept Nintendo with good news to share the last few years. There’s no reason for Nintendo to abandon a market they’ve clearly dominated.
Instead, it’s more likely that Nintendo is already preparing a successor to the 3DS. After all, March 2017 will mark the sixth year anniversary of the handheld device. Whether it also employs a dual-screen design or not, it will no doubt offer better visuals and power. It may even feature something new, much like the DS’s dual-screens and the 3DS’ stereoscopic 3D effects.
Better yet, perhaps the 3DS’ successor will work work together with the Nintendo Switch in the same way the 3DS worked with Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. It’s the only game that allowed players to use their 3DS as a controller on a console title.
With Nintendo promoting split-screen play on the Switch, this would be a fantastic feature if it worked with every game. Instead of having to buy more Switch accessories, you could bring your new Nintendo handheld to use it as a controller. People who used their Gameboy Advance devices to play Final Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles and The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures on their Gamecube know how awesome this would be
But just like with the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo is no doubt waiting for the perfect moment to reveal their future plans for the Nintendo 3DS or its successor. At least the wait to get your hands on the Switch might be sooner than expected.
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