New 3DS: Analysing Nintendo's Diluted Announcement

Excitement spilled over the internet last week after Nintendo unveiled the release date for many upcoming games, as well as its latest flagship handheld. But with the thrills over the superior new console came disappointment amongst many of Big N’s most loyal fans.

During the first Nintendo Direct of the year, while it was announced that the much anticipated New 3DS would be arriving in North America next month, the same was not true of the standard, smaller model of the New 3DS that includes interchangeable, collectible faceplates. Instead, fans will only be able to purchase the new XL model, which includes no such faceplates. In the week that has followed the announcement, many have said that the reveal has only made their decision easier…

… Although some have gone so far as to say they won’t be picking up a New 3DS at all because Nintendo isn’t launching the smaller model:

Nintendo has responded to the surprise and dismay with the following statement: “Different territories make their own business decisions regarding individual products and timing. We think New Nintendo 3DS XL makes the most sense for our market. Nintendo makes different systems at different price points for a whole range of consumers, and New Nintendo 3DS XL simply expands those choices even further.”

Not much of a statement, to be sure. But sadly, it’s understandable. Many sales estimates put the XL model at nearly three times the sales of the standard model here in North America. To Nintendo, this means that a roll-out of the smaller model simply would not make as much money as a standalone launch of the better selling product.

Now, does this mean that the smaller model will ever come to North America? Maybe. Nintendo closed its issued statement to Kotaku by answering that same question with: “We have nothing to announce at this time.”

But fans are arguing that Nintendo’s shenanigans don’t end there. It was also announced in last week’s Direct that the New 3DS will not come with an AC adapter, which brought both confusion and derision to go alongside the now-dampened excitement surrounding the announcement.

What’s the basis for this shift? It would seem that, as usual, it’s a business one. In a statement to IGN, Nintendo said: “New Nintendo 3DS XL uses the same AC adapter as any Nintendo 3DS or Nintendo DSi system. Rather than raise cost of New Nintendo 3DS XL by charging consumers for a component they may already own, we are giving them the option to only buy if they need an AC adapter.”

Many companies have taken similar steps in recent years, as various forms of USB charging have grown more ubiqutous. But that’s not necessarily the case for Nintendo. While it’s true that every one of their handhelds since the DSi uses the same charger, it’s a proprietary one. So while many early adopters of Nintendo’s recent handhelds will have one lying about, newcomers, like myself, will be forced to buy one separately.

That’s not even to mention those that want to trade in their old 3DS to get the newer model at a lower cost will be at a disadvantage as well. Those looking to go this route will likely have to trade in their AC adapter with their old console, leaving them no choice but to buy a new adapter with the New 3DS regardless.

All in all, those in North America will still be getting what is largely considered a fantastic machine, even if customization options and charging capabilities will be slim in comparison to our Eastern and European peers. The New 3DS XL launches on February 13 for the suggested retail price of $200.

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