For Nintendo, it’s now or never.
With Sony set to release PlayStation Vita in Japan before the end of the year (with a U.S. and European release not far behind) and millions of consumers planning to buy Apple and Android powered smart phones, the Japanese company needs to make serious headway with 3DS.
Succeed, and the publisher stands to increase its user based, thus creating a buffer between it and Sony. Fail, and the handheld could join the Virtual Boy in the small list of Nintendo bombs. A snowball effect may also impact Nintendo products moving forward, including the upcoming Wii U console.
Suffice to say, the big N backed itself into a corner due to a few critical mistakes, starting with the questionable $249.99 3DS price point and a lack of software, most notably anything involving Mario and Pokemon.
The result has been quite humbling for a video game maker with billions in the bank. First, there was the announced price drop to $169.99 that kicks into effect August 12, followed by an excessive (borderline uncomfortable) apology from Nintendo President/CEO Satoru Iwata after stock prices dropped.
From that point on, the company pledged to throw everything including the kitchen sink into this year’s heated holiday season.
It begins with the price drop and Ambassadors Program, an ambitious “thank you” to current 3DS owners that rewards these consumers with 20 free games (10 NES, 10 GBA) starting September 1.
From there, the publisher will begin selling the newest 3DS colour, Flame Red, September 9, along with Star Fox 64 3D.
Kid Icarus: Uprising will follow. Then, players will enjoy Mario’s latest adventure, Super Mario 3D Land in November. By contrast,New Super Mario Bros. didn’t arrive until 2006, almost two years after the system’s 2004 debut and launch title, Super Mario 64 DS.
Clearly, Nintendo’s willing to do whatever it takes to hold onto its handheld crown.
With this in mind, we feel the company has put its best foot forward. It’s tough to argue against a lineup that includes Star Fox, Kid Icarus, Mario and Mario Kart; only Pokemon would make it better.
At the same time, this gives consumers little to look forward to in 2012. A new Pokemon, Zelda and Metroid are likely in development, but have not been announced, and surely won’t be ready until spring/summer 2012 at the earliest. If for some reason Nintendo fails to boost 3DS sales within the next four months, it stands to lose serious ground to its competitors, or worse, risk a potential buyout if the stock continues to plummet.
On that note, the more 3DS units Nintendo can sell between now and the New Year, the better. Its future depends on it.
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