Nintendo has another new portable device for you to buy. That surprises you? Well, it shouldn’t. Nintendo has released new handheld hardware almost annually since 2008.
Early this morning, the company revealed the New 3DS and New 3DS XL. They are totally revamped versions of the standard 3DS and 3DS XL that feature a faster processor, a second analog nub, better glasses-free 3D technology, and a lot more. The hardware is actually so different that it will get games that the 3DS, 3DS XL, and 2DS cannot handle. The system goes on sale in Japan on Oct. 11 with the XL model priced at around $180 and the regular model at around $160. North America won’t get the system until 2015, but that doesn’t mean this new system won’t push Nintendo back into profitability. In fact, this system actually may give the company exactly what it needs to reach its goal for the year.
Nintendo lost $229 million during its fiscal 2014, which ended March 31. That’s largely due to the lackluster performance of the Wii U console, which has barely surpassed 6 million units sold. The company has a few things coming to that system to help it out this year. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Hyrule Warriors, and Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker may help the system reach 3.6 million Wii Us sold by the end of fiscal 2015. But Nintendo doesn’t just want to rely on turning the Wii U into a success. It has seen some positive movement with that home console thanks to Mario Kart 8, which has surpassed more than 2 million in sales since its debut, but it needs to get more out of the 3DS as well.
The company expects to make a profit of $394 million this year. Yes, the Wii U may help with that, but Nintendo has positioned this year around a few big product releases, and New 3DS will definitely help them get the most of those.
How the New 3DS fits into Nintendo’s strategy
Super Smash Bros.
On Sept. 13, a month before the New 3DS debuts, Nintendo finally releases the latest Super Smash Bros. game for its 3D portable in Japan. The highly anticipated four-player fighting game is going to sell well that month to the huge number of fans who already own a 3DS. But when people head into stores to buy New 3DS in October, some might pick up Super Smash Bros. as the game-to-get with the new hardware.
In fact, people who want to play Super Smash Bros. online with their New 3DS may have an advantage. Nintendo claims that the system’s new CPU will actually improve the system’s download speeds, and that may translate into better performance in the fighter for anyone rocking the upgraded hardware.
While Smash Bros. and New 3DS may benefit from one another, the hardware revision will definitely benefit Nintendo’s upcoming interactive Amiibo toys.
New 3DS features built-in near-field communication. This is a type of wireless technology that enables devices to communicate with one another simply by tapping them or getting them close enough. It’s the tech that enables you to pay with your phone at places like Walgreens pharmacies.
The Amiibo figures use NFC to enable the plastic Mario, Link, and other toys to communicate with the game. Wii U’s Gamepad already has built-in NFC, but previous versions of the 3DS do not. This means that gamers will need an extra NFC add-on if they want to use Amiibo with their current hardware.
Nintendo announced today that Amiibo will roll out alongside Super Smash Bros. for 3DS, and the game will support connectivity with the toys. If either New 3DS or Amiibo catch on with fans, both the system and the toys should benefit from increased demand.
Interactive toys are a huge industry. Publisher Activision revealed that its series of Skylanders games and toys have already reached $2 billion in revenue since debuting in 2011. Nintendo is hoping that its strong brands will help it find similar levels of success. The publisher is also enabling Amiibo across a number of games, and Smash Bros. is just the first.
New 3DS, Smash Bros., and Amiibo could combine to give Nintendo a huge revenue boost, and the NFC-capable hardware could sustain that growth through future Amiibo-supported games.
As we noted, New 3DS comes out Oct. 11 in Japan. Can you guess when Monster Hunter 4: Ultimate comes out in that country? The same day.
The role-playing like action franchise Monster Hunter is one of Japan’s biggest properties. Monster Hunter Tri, for example, is the best-selling third-party game on Wii in Japan. Across all of its releases, the franchise has sold more than 28 million copies, and Monster Hunter 4: Ultimate is going to have similar levels of success.
One of the problems with Monster Hunter on 3DS, however, is that the game requires a second analog stick. The complex 3D game has players moving around and controlling a third-person camera at the same time, and that’s impossible with standard 3DS. To solve this problem, Nintendo released an analog-stick peripheral for the 3DS and 3DS XL, but that’s not ideal. But that’s no longer a problem on New 3DS, thanks to its second analog nub, which Nintendo is referring to as the C-stick.
As you can see in the image above, the right side of the New 3DS has a small gray nub that looks like a button. That is actually the secondary analog controller.
Monster Hunter 4: Ultimate was already going to sell well on 3DS, but now it may sell even better. And with Japanese gamers interesting in the game, the New 3DS could have a big first day.
GameCube and Wii ports
When Nintendo announced the New 3DS this morning, it also revealed that the beloved Wii role-playing game Xenoblade Chronicles is coming to the system. This is possible due to the hardware’s improved processor, C-stick controller, and the two extra shoulder buttons. Rumors suggest New 3DS even has twice the RAM of the old 3DS. All of this almost turns the 3DS into a GameCube controller with two screens on it.
Xenoblade Chronicles is potentially just the first game from Nintendo’s GameCube/Wii eras that could make the jump to the portable device. The publisher could push Super Mario Sunshine, Metroid Prime, or Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem.
Nintendo has done this before
If the New 3DS sounds like Nintendo has lost their mind, you might not remember the company’s history with portable hardware. Really, the 3DS is a lot like Game Boy Color and Nintendo DSi.
In 1996, Nintendo started revising its massively popular Game Boy system with Game Boy pocket. It followed that up with Game Boy Light, a version of the Pocket that illuminated the screen, in 1997. In 1998, the company made the first version of the Game Boy that used new games in the Game Boy Color. It featured colored graphics and more processing power. Developers could take advantage of those capabilities and release their software as Game Boy Color-only games that were not compatible with the original Game Boy.
The company did something pretty similar in the 2000s. After once again finding massive success in the portable market with the Nintendo DS in 2004 and the DS Lite in 2006, Nintendo released the DSi in 2008. This system came with a digital-download shop that enabled gamers to buy games that wouldn’t work on the original DS.
In 2010, Nintendo debuted the Nintendo DSi XL, which is just a bigger version of the DSi. Every year since then, the company has released a new revision of its portable hardware: the 3DS, 3DS XL, 2DS, and now the New 3DS.
The Game Boy Color and the DSi both boosted Nintendo’s performance in handheld gaming, and it’s hoping that the New 3DS will do the same. With Smash Bros., Amiibo, Monster Hunter, and GameCube ports — it likely will.