With weeks left before the release of the 2DS and the highly anticipated Pokemon X and Y, predictions for how the handheld will do are rolling out left and right.
For those still unaware, the 2DS is essentially a stripped down version of the 3DS, capable of doing everything the 3DS can do but with the glaring exception of not being able to portray images in 3D. Nintendo has made it clear that the target audience for the 2DS is young children, which seems to be the optimal target audience given its robust design and cheaper price tag. The simultaneous release of the 2DS with Pokemon X and Y is an excellent move on Nintendo’s part: the date is situated at a reasonable distance from the release of the Playstation 4 and Xbox One, but not so distant that it’ll be forgotten about during the holiday season.
Everything about the 2DS’s release, from the strategic release date to the target audience to even the lower price tag, are sound. However, the idea behind the 2DS is faulty because it is missing a few key points.
To more fully understand the release of the 2DS and its future, we need to look back into the initial release of the 3DS. When the 3DS first came out in 2011, there was little hype, and the handheld failed to sell. Sales were so slow that within six months of its release, the price dropped $80, and Nintendo struggled to make a profit. However, its rapid downfall was not entirely unexpected. With a poor game lineup and growing health concerns over the 3D aspect of the handheld, the 3DS was swept under the rug and very nearly forgotten about until the release of new games.
That sudden outpouring of new games saved the 3DS. Games like Fire Emblem, Animal Crossing, Kid Icarus, Tales of the Abyss, and Shin Megami Tensei brought life back into the handheld. The demo section of the eShop thrived as gamers downloaded demos and got a taste of what they could own. Shortly after that, sales for the 3DS shot up, and the 3DS XL was then released. However, as a result of so much concentration placed on the 3DS, the Wii U fell behind, and with the impending release of the Playstation 4 and Xbox One, Nintendo’s console crashed and burned.
Despite that, all the work that went into the 3DS was certainly not pointless. The 3DS has become the handheld to own. The Vita fell behind, and Sony began directing all its marketing powers on the release of the Playstation 4; as a result, much of the handheld competition that Nintendo fought against was lifted.
Fast forward to 2013. The release of the 2DS is an attempt to offset the damage done by both the initial release of the 3DS and the Wii U. By selling people a handheld, those people are sure to buy a few games to go along with it. But the problem that now exists is that the 3DS has become a widely owned handheld, being much more affordable than most consoles, and having a superb game lineup. Most game savvy parents will likely already own the 3DS, while the parents who don’t keep up in the video game world have likely not even heard of the 2DS. Instead, the next generation consoles are taking over the media, blasting out comparisons between the Playstation 4 and Xbox One, allowing the 2DS to slide quietly below the average person’s radar.
Even so, there are many other problems with the 2DS’s release. While Nintendo targets young children, there exists so much competition that takes the form of tablets and PC games. There are parents who don’t want their children to play video games at such a young age, and there are parents who will enter a store and ask what the difference between the 2DS, 3DS, and 3DS XL are, which by itself presents a number of problems. There are also parents who are worried that even at a lowered cost, the product may not be durable enough for their children to handle.
As a result, the problem is very simple: Nintendo’s target audience of young gamers may seem wide and broad, but upon closer inspection it is actually very narrow. The main potential buyers that currently exist are parents who know about video games who might want to buy one for their child, and people who have waited out for a more affordable version of the 3DS. Yet those people are not great in number.
There is no doubt that Nintendo’s 2DS will be able to sell a handful of copies, especially given that it shares a release date with Pokemon X and Y. However, the 2DS won’t be making much of a big or permanent splash in the future of the gaming world, and it is extremely doubtful that sales from the 2DS will return the amount in damages from the 3DS and the Wii U that Nintendo hopes for.