By James Brightman
Nintendo had a great month in March. Its Pokemon Black and White titles dominated the charts, and the Nintendo DS was the top selling games platform for the March NPD period… wait, what? Yes, the old, venerable DS handheld sold more units in March than the shiny, new 3DS. NPD’s Anita Frazier said, “The best-selling hardware platform for the month was indeed the Nintendo DS despite the launch of the 3DS at the end of the month.” [Update: Nintendo revealed that DS sold 460,000 while 3DS sold 400,000, and the Wii sold 290,000.]
Not only did DS steal the limelight from the 3DS during the month of March, but NPD also confirmed that 3DS actually sold significantly fewer units during its launch month than the DS did during its launch way back in 2004. There’s a reason for that, however, explained Frazier. She noted that the original DS had a holiday advantage and a price advantage.
“The 3DS launched in the U.S. on 3/27, so seven days of retail sales are included in this months results. The 3DS launch compares quite favourably to that of the best-selling dedicated handheld gaming platform of all time, the Nintendo DS. While the 3DS sold about 100K units less than the DS did in its launch month, we must consider that the DS launched in November and had holiday seasonality and a price differential of about $100,” she said. “Because of the price differential, the 3DS generated greater revenues than did the DS in its launch month in November 2004. In addition, the 3DS was launched in an environment where there are more devices that can support the portable gaming experience such as tablets and smartphones.”
All things considered, 3DS was still a strong launch, but we can’t help but think that it would have done even better if Pokemon hadn’t launched mere weeks before it. It would have been really interesting if Nintendo had saved Pokemon Black and White for the 3DS and adjusted its visuals to support 3D gameplay. Now that would have been a killer app to kick off the 3DS launch in style.