Have you heard this one before: Nintendo faces PR fiasco over poor foresight and inability to clearly introduce new hardware. Yes, but the Wii U came out back in 2012 so what’s the problem? Well, not to be outdone by their past, the Big N is at it again with the announcement of their brand new hardware: the New 3DS.
“Wait,” you say, “don’t you mean their new version. It’s still a 3DS, right?”
Answer: Kinda but not really.
To begin with, the definition of hardware needs to be established:
“the machines, wiring, and other physical components of a computer or other electronic system.”
Google “hardware definition” and that is what comes up. Okay, so where does one piece of hardware end and another begin? Nintendo is no stranger to releasing new versions of their hardware. Ever since the days of Game Boy, Nintendo has released new versions of their product. There are already several versions of 3DS on the market right now: 3DS, 3DS XL, and 2DS (seriously, who bought this?). There are already differences in the hardware and they are immediate. The XL unit is larger and the 2DS does not have the ability to ever go 3D (seriously, who?). Yet I agree that they are not new systems, simply new versions of what was already available to work with.
What makes the New 3DS different from what came before? Sure, it adds a second analog stick and two more buttons, but isn’t it really just a better designed version of this:
That is how they’re trying to sell it, but no there is actually a much larger difference. The New 3DS has a brand new CPU (central processing unit). That means that this system is faster than the old and capable of better visual graphics. Better graphics… hmmm, now when is that style of marketing used?
Okay but graphics aside, the New 3DS still really is not that different. It isn’t like there are games for it that will not work on the old 3DS, right?
So far, only one game has been announced exclusively for New 3DS, and that is the portable version of Xenoblade Chronicles. On the software side, that is not much (for now). Except when Amiibo comes in. The New 3DS features NFC support, meaning that it can interact with Nintendo’s new lineup of toy supplements. Both the New 3DS and the Wii U gamepad have NFC functionality built-in. Owners of the old 3DS will have to buy an additional adapter to take advantage of this new technology. Sounding new enough, yet?
Yeah, when you look at it, there’s a lot more that the New 3DS can do… so why wasn’t it released three years ago? The 3DS is only a year older than the Wii U, it is still a very new system, yet Nintendo has already made it outdated. Criticism existed from day one over the several features missing from the original 3DS, the most notable objection was the lack of second analog stick.
Revisionism can be a good innovator, but constant revisionism is a bad idea, especially in less than perfect economic conditions. Nintendo is already loosing ground to an ever-growing mobile phone gaming market. While some consumers may be willing to pony up cash every year for the latest phone, giving up a couple hundred dollars for a SLIGHTLY better 3DS is not the same sure bet.
Instead, many gamers may have reactions very similar to my brother, a man who recently bought a 3DS. Suffice it to say, he is not excited about this newer, better version. Instead, he feels cheated. Why buy now when they are going to release a clearly superior product in such a short time? Nintendo does not appear to see a problem.
While Nintendo has been seen as an innovator in gameplay, their lack of forward thinking in regards to hardware has been a problem. This is the company that did not think a lack of HD would hurt the Wii in 2007 (it did not initially but things were different by 2010). Nintendo did not feel that the name “Wii U” would cause any problems, or that people would be confused by a controller-centric unveiling. Nintendo is the company that still treats online like a fad, rather than building games to take complete advantage of it. In short: holy hell, can this company not think down the road.
Right now they are not expecting any negative feedback to releasing essentially a 3DS 2 only three years after the 3DS made its debut. Should Nintendo fans or the gaming public in general be holding out for a “New Wii U” as well? There are already reports that Nintendo is planning a new console. Instead of abandoning and revising their hardware, Nintendo should take a good look at the competition for answers. Sony is a company to admire for their repair of a horrendous PlayStation 3 launch. Nintendo needs to do the same thing. They need a new image, and the company that roles out new hardware every two years is not it.
Should you buy a New 3DS? Maybe. The odds are slim that they will revise twice in a generation. Should you buy an original 3DS this holiday season? Absolutely not. Nintendo has already told you that they have something better. They are just trying to hide it so you won’t feel cheated.