Why the 3DS Isn't Necessarily Doomed to Fail
Consoles get price cuts all the time. It's a common practice by manufacturers to ensure that their respective systems' cost to consumers is properly adjusted to get with the times of an aging console generation, or to entice potential buyers to pick their system over their competitors'. Usually, it takes a console two or three years before its price gets a hefty drop. In the case of the Nintendo 3DS, though, it has taken all of five months. Five months on the scene, and the 3DS is receiving a slash of $80 off its original $250 price tag. What does this all mean? Is the 3DS doomed to fail like the Virtual Boy? Or can Nintendo save its current handheld and prove the doubters wrong?
Plenty of individuals will tell you that the 3DS is headed down a path of failure, just like the Virtual Boy and GameCube before it. After the low sales of the handheld, abysmal library of games, and quick price cut, it would be hard to argue otherwise. After all, history has a way of pointing toward the future all too often. Many times, gamers are pretty adamant about their refusal to purchase a game console after it fails to make a good first impression; the 3DS, plain and simple, made a horrible first impression after its launch.
Right out the gate, Nintendo's brand new handheld was sporting a $250 price tag. This wasn't a bad asking price for the machine, and even now that the 3DS is going to cost 170 clams, $250 still doesn't seem like a terrible value. Of course, that's just in terms of the hardware. When you look at the launch lineup that accompanied the 3DS, $250 certainly does seem pretty demanding. Had the handheld hit store shelves with Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, Animal Crossing, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, and other such high-profile titles, you can bet the die-hard Nintendo fans would have been foaming at the mouth to get their hands on one. You know how I know this? Because I'm a die-hard Nintendo fan, and I didn't give a damn about the 3DS launch.
People often complain about the whole Twilight Princess deal and how that game was meant to be a GameCube title before it was ported to the Wii. At the end of the day, it was totally awesome having the chance to play a Zelda game on a brand new Nintendo console right from the get-go. Nintendo really missed a major marketing opportunity when it didn't release a major franchise title for the 3DS. Oh, and I'm fully aware that Pilot Wings Resort and Steel Diver are Nintendo franchises, but are they revered franchises? Hell no. You know what would have been awesome? If Nintendo would have launched a brand new Kirby or Wario game with the 3DS. Unfortunately, the manufacturer played it too safe and missed a great opportunity at getting people talking about its new handheld's launch library, which ultimately resulted in ridicule and laugh-out-loud jokes at the expense of the 3DS.
Just because the Big N didn't brainstorm a proper platform launch doesn't mean the 3DS is doomed to fail, though. On the contrary, the company can now use the portable's downward dip as motivation to improve upon it, creating a sweet underdog tale for the 3DS. When the dual screen handheld gets its shiny, new price cut later this month, Nintendo needs to treat the fans like spoiled gamers. Give us big reveals, announce some hot new titles, and start developing new entries in existing franchises, Nintendo! We're already expecting Mario, Luigi, and Kirby, but we want more. Nintendo would do well to announce a new WarioWare or Wario Land title. We can't forget about Nintendo's very own tactical RPG series, Fire Emblem. Also, what about the Big N's resident ape Donkey Kong?
The company was so caught up giving us third-party crap on the 3DS that it forgot to cater to the loyalists who play Nintendo consoles for the first-party franchises. That said, the 3DS can still be saved if, moving forward, these first-party games are announced, promoted, and launched. Nintendo is very good when it comes to developing its software, and if franchises like Star Fox, Mario & Luigi, and Pokemon land on the 3DS, fans will pay money for the platform. Give us the games we love, Nintendo, and then you can try to sell us on third-party software. Normally, third-party games are just as important as those developed by a manufacturer in-house, but in the case of Nintendo's latest portable system, I think a strong emphasis on first-party games is in order.
Additionally, the company needs to resurrect older series. How awesome and nostalgic would it be if Nintendo announced a new Balloon Fight game for the 3DS? Or what if the company threw gamers a curve ball and revealed the return of a beloved cult classic series? What if--brace yourselves--Nintendo announced Mother 4 for the 3DS? Following the price drop and some stronger titles, it's awesome to think about the possibilities of a new Mother game.
Speaking of Mother, how about a 3D Classics version of Earthbound? I know, that's probably a lot to ask for, but the concept is brilliant. Nintendo has a promising download platform in the eShop, and it has yet to utilize it to its full potential. Upon the price reduction of the 3DS, Nintendo would be wise to start releasing strong content, such as River City Ransom, Super Mario Bros. 3, Contra, Battletoads (Rare can still make handheld games for other manufacturers), and Mega Man. These are just a few of the titles that would make for excellent 3D releases on the eShop. Nintendo really has to make a big deal out of them and promote them like crazy in order to sell and get the attention of 3DS owners.
When the PlayStation Vita drops on the scene next year, the 3DS is going to have some strong competition. That's why now is the time for Nintendo to act. After having made some major blunders early on, the Big N needs to take the next few months very seriously. Some people will argue that the 3DS is this generation's Virtual Boy. Let's not forget that the 3DS actually has potential, works well, has cool features, and isn't a worthless concept. Nintendo can make 3DS owners happy, and it can entice non-3DS owners to want the handheld. The $80 price cut is a great start. Now the company needs to churn out its exclusives, continue to embrace third-party software, give adopters of the handheld a reason to care about the eShop, and most importantly, promote the heck out of the content slated for release on the 3DS. Super Mario 3D Land and Luigi's Mansion 2 are great titles to look forward to. If Nintendo gives us more of these hot franchises, the 3DS will definitely be a system to appreciate and spend cash on.