If you're like me (and I know I am) and you were looking forward to picking up a pocket-sized New 3DS in North America, then prepare for the disappointment. Nintendo of America announced this morning that while it is launching the jumbo New 3DS XL on February 13 for $200, the small, original-sized New 3DS will not be joining it. While Japan, Australia, and Europe are all in on the classic New 3DS size party, North America isn't so lucky. I turn you over to Chris Kohler at Wired for some analysis on this
boneheaded economical move.
So why would Nintendo make such a decision? There are a variety of potential reasons.
First, recall that Nintendo has actually phased out the regular 3DS in the U.S. The only models on sale here are the $200 3DS XL and the $100 Nintendo 2DS, an inexpensive low-end model with a 2-D display and a single-piece molded-plastic body instead of a clamshell design.
2DS is not for sale in Japan and likely never will be, so it’s not a factor. But in the U.S., if Nintendo only wants two models on shelves at once, this is how it’s going to do it.
In Japan, the New 3DS XL has outsold the smaller model by a factor of two to one. In the U.S., such sales data is not public, but we might surmise that the gap would be similar or perhaps even more pronounced here.
Finally, launching the New Nintendo 3DS requires also launching faceplates, and lots of them. Nintendo of America has often spoken about the difficulty of getting shelf space at the major retail chains in the United States, often in relation to its Amiibo figurines.
I'm disappointed by this decision. I like carrying my 3DS around with me when I go places in order to collect StreetPass tags and have the option of playing a quick game when time allows. Nintendo spent years training me to carry their handheld console in my pocket, sold me extra StreetPass games that rely on portability to function, and now they're backtracking to sell a handheld system that I can't easily take with me. I already have a handheld system that never leaves the house. It's called a PlayStation Vita. I love playing my Vita, but it's too bulky and cumbersome to slip into my pocket. The 3DS was meant to go along for the ride and I was looking forward to slipping a New 3DS into its place.
While I can't say I'll never buy a New 3DS XL (sooner or later there will be a Super Mario game or other title I can't refuse that will demand a purchase), when that time inevitably comes, that's when I stop carrying my 3DS with me and adjust my purchases accordingly. No more StreetPass. No more buying games with the intent of playing them when I'm out. Perhaps I'll skip some games I'd have otherwise bought if they were intended to be played outside the house. So I'm sitting this launch out. Maybe someday Nintendo will decide to release the smaller New 3DS here and when that happens, I'll happily upgrade. For now though, the New 3DS XL does not meet my needs and I'm passing on it.