I read an interesting article by IGN that I thought would make for a good roundtable. While I hate IGN's bashing of anything Nintendo, I can also see the logic behind the argument. However, is history enough to determine a products future, or are new factors such as the Ambassador Program, the 3DS Virtual Console, and Sony's PS Vita being $80 more enough to evade history. How will Sony respond to all this? How does Apple factor into all of this? is Microsoft smart for staying away from the portable business? Discuss.
Jack Devries said:
History Says the 3DS Dead.
With the announcement of the Nintendo 3DS getting a price drop, Nintendo hopes to turn around the lackluster sales of the handheld and get back on track. There's just one problem: That has never worked for Nintendo.
The fact is that Nintendo has never turned around the failure of a console or handheld by doing a price drop. What's more, every system they've had that had a price drop within six months turned out to be a commercial disappointment.
Now, it's easy to point to the Virtual Boy every time Nintendo sales falter, but it really is the classic example, and there are some unfortunate parallels between that system and the 3DS. Not to say that the 3DS is the colossal failure that the Virtual Boy ended up being, but there are some other similarities with the 3DS, and Nintendo's other consoles.
Just look at the other evidence. Back in the mid-90s, Nintendo was on top of the video game heap. They had effectively won the console wars with the Super Nintendo. However the launch of the Nintendo 64 was marred by lackluster sales. Whether it was due to more expensive games, or the competition's head start, the N64 did not perform as well as predicted, and Nintendo lost the lead. They tried multiple price drops, but it didn't save the system (which had some of the best games of the time).
The next generation didn't fare any better with the GameCube. Coming into the race in third place, Nintendo was never able to catch up, and lost more ground to the Xbox and the PlayStation 2.
Both of these systems got significant price drops within six months of their release. And both of these systems continued to underperform for their entire lifespan, despite great games, and additional price cuts.
By comparison, Nintendo's popular systems, the ones that succeeded, don't get price drops for years. It took the NES six years to get a discount. And the Wii went almost three before it got a cut. The Nintendo DS only got a price drop after Nintendo released the DS Lite over a year and a half later.
Is it a sure thing that the 3DS is going to continue to underperform? No, not necessarily. All of these situations are different, and the effort Nintendo is putting into incentivizing the system is unprecedented. But it's something to be wary of. History has shown that when consumers decide they don't want a system right out of the gate, it's really hard to ever change their mind.
@Kal-El814 The title of the roundtable is Does History really dictate whether the 3DS is doomed or not? while the title of the article is History Says the 3DS Dead. I made the thread title different on purpose for two reasons. First, I disagree with Jack's conclusion and wanted to give Nintendo the benefit of the doubt. Like you, I think that IGN just wanted the page hits with a misleading title. Second, I believe that framing it in the form of a question and not providing a conclusion in the OP actually fosters a better debate. However, I do agree that I should put the original title inside the quotation to avoid further confusion.
A. The 3DS was obviously overpriced. It's probably not selling because it was overpriced (and had no real must have games at launch...)
B. The other consoles had way more serious competition. iPhone worries aside, Sony is Nintendo's main competition and they don't even have a new platform out yet, and their last platform didn't do too hot (outside of Japan).
@Kal-El814 Ok fine, but this generation Microsoft and Sony got their butts kicked by a competitor everyone wrote off as finished, so does that make them failures? I'm not sure if getting your butt kicked is enough to be a failure. There is room for several successes.
Mind you, the Gamecube probably was a failure in the eyes of Nintendo compared to what it could have been.
Tough to say. I mean, I don't think that the reasons behind the 3DS lagging in sales are the same as when the GameCube and N64 dropped in price.
I mean, we saw it with the PS2 and again with the 360. First consoles to release of the next generation (I know technically the Dreamcast was first, but let's be serious), but didn't exactly set the world on fire right away. Neither system started getting quality software until being on the market for over 6 months. But once they got the games, sales took off (and in the case of Sony, the Holiday 2001 lineup won them the "console war").
The first "new system" of a generation will always have trouble getting early adopters if there simply isn't software ready yet. And that's true of the 3DS. I hadn't considered picking up a 3DS until this holiday or later, and I still don't. There's just not enough quality software right now for me to justify a purchase, not when I have a ton to play right now on other systems.
The GameCube and N64 dropped in price mostly in response to competition. In the case of the 3DS, it's primary competition hasn't even released yet. This is just a normal result of releasing your new platform first and not being ready with software. As long as Nintendo has a quality library established and a more affordable price-point when the Vita launches, they will be fine. It's probably true that they won't be nearly as successful as in the past, due to the slow start, a more formidable portable from Sony, and of course increased competition from smartphones, etc. But I don't think Nintendo should be worried about not finishing "in first", or about the system being "doomed".
Get back to me after they fail to make a splash this holiday. In the event that they don't, then I would start to press the panic button.
@TheBigG753 Excellent post. I will add that even the mighty DS had a rather average batch of launch titles, and really only took off once quality software hit 6 months post release, though holiday sales helped it a lot.