Nintendo 3DS Sales Slump; Company Plans Adapted Marketing

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News Posted: Fri, Apr 29 2011 2:59 PM
After a strong initial release, sales of Nintendo's newest 3DS have slumped significantly. The company had planned to sell at least four million units by the end of its fiscal year, but only moved 3.61M. During his speech at the company's investor conference, company CEO Satoru Iwata said the latest handheld required a different approach.
We have revised our scenario for diffusion and are making efforts to get the popularity of Nintendo 3DS back on track for the upcoming summer season... The value of 3D images without the need for special glasses is hard to be understood through the existing media.

It is clear from our market research that many people feel that they 'want' and 'want to buy' Nintendo 3DS, and the latest demand for this device is the largest in comparison with our previous new platforms at the time of their launches, but on the other hand, there is a big proposition that not that many people believe 'Now is the time to buy it!' The penetration will not gain speed without overcoming this challenge.

We have found that people cannot feel it just by trying out a device, rather, some might even misestimate it when experiencing the images in an improper fashion. This makes it more important to give people more opportunities for appropriate experiences of glassless 3D images."
Nintendo was concerned enough about consumer's understanding of 3D that it sent multiple units on tour across the country to help build excitement ahead of the product's launch. It's possible that the 3DS's slumping sales have little to do with its 3D technology one way or the other, but are the result of the unit's weak battery life, $40 game prices at a time when almost all mobile games are $5 or less, or the 3D warnings regarding children under six (the UK's tabloids tried to spin this into a health panic).  

If the 3DS could do this we don't think it'd need to be explained to anyone.

The problem with Iwata's statement is that products with value that's "hard to understand" or requires "appropriate experience" are often products that face slow ramps and poor consumer differentiation. Nintendo's decision to give users an option to shut the 3D effect entirely off was a good one, but DS owners who do so consistently due to problems with the 3D gaming may be unhappy with the other updates and capabilities that separate the 3DS from the DSi.

We suspect that the unit's battery life (generally 3-4 hours with 3D and WiFi enabled) and the three hour recharge time are substantial contributors to its weaker-than-expected sales. This should be offset in the future by new titles; games from first-tier franchises like Zelda, Mario Kart, and Kid Icarus are all in the pipe.

Thus far, the 3DS has done little to indicate just how much consumers actually want 3D technology. 3DS sales will seed the market with 3D capabilities, just as lower-end televisions are seeding the mass market. There's still no strong evidence that the mass market sees 3D as a must-have feature or will base their buying trends around it. That may not matter much to a TV manufacturer, but it matters quite a bit in the handheld market, where very limited GPU/CPU resources must be leveraged to produce the best possible gaming without draining power so drastically.
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LBowen replied on Fri, Apr 29 2011 3:25 PM

Maybe consumers are finally starting to feel that 3D is over-saturating the market. When I used to work at the movie theater just about every big movie was regular in 3D. A lot of people just felt it was too gimmicky and I really just didn't care because I had to wear suspenders and a bowtie :(

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fat78 replied on Fri, Apr 29 2011 3:56 PM

I think it also has to do with price and decline of people wanting to buy a hand held device just to play games. 250 for a device that mainly only plays games doesnt seem worth it. As well most people carry around devices that can play games already like laptops,phones, tablets,...etc

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LBowen replied on Fri, Apr 29 2011 4:06 PM

Yeah I didn't even thing of that. There are only going to be so many gamers that would want a 3DS; especially since they might already have a previous version.

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AKwyn replied on Sat, Apr 30 2011 2:17 AM

While it's true 3D is becoming oversaturated (especially if you count the many shitty 3D movies that have come out), it hasn't penetrated the market as much as you think due to price and health concerns.

I mean with the fear of 3D being harmful to today's youth; people don't want to be thinking "if I use 3D then my lifespan will be reduced." when they're thinking about 3D, that causes lower sales due to general fear and concern.

Also anybody forget that there is a "3D Tax" going on with devices that do 3D. Just look around, a 3DTV costs more then any Plasma and LED LCD TV out there. What technology powering the devices costing a few more dollars, you think they couldn't find a way to lower the price barrier for 3D technology.

Added to the flaws above and well, there you have your reasons for not buying a 3DS.

Don't get me wrong, the enhanced graphics are cool and all but people don't want to be wasting 3-4 hours of their battery life on 3D. At least the folks at Nintendo are making their DS's somewhat like PDA's with limited subject features, so it can do more then play games (such as browse the web.) so they don't get left out of the whole tablets, phones and laptops of today can play games too thing.


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There just does not seem to be the excitement or the buzz about 3D - economically it just is not the right time and with iPad's taking the edge off any launch just think product not good enough at the wrong time.

Tried out a 3D TV at the shop yesterday, silly glasses that gave me a headache within minutes~!! We still have a long way to go.

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