What If 3DS Bombs?
Nintendo may lose more than just the handheld market.
After more than two decades of handheld dominance, it's hard to imagine Nintendo losing its portable gaming throne. Game Boy, Game Boy Advance and DS were all universal success stories, selling in excess of 80 million units worldwide.
That said, the market has changed dramatically. Although PSP lost its battle with DS, Sony managed to carve a huge chunk of market share while delivering quality products its fans trust.
Meanwhile, mobile gaming exploded, with scores of consumers purchasing iPhones and Android enabled smart phones to enjoy affordably priced but still fun titles, complete with free updates.
Thus far, Nintendo's done a commendable job with 3DS. The weak launch lineup was heavily criticized, but the publisher rebounded with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, the eShop and a strong showing at last month's Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), where players were able to enjoy Mario Kart 3DS, Super Mario 3D, Star For 64 3D and Kid Icarus: Uprising, all of which are set to debut before the end of the year.
Taking all of that into account, the big N doesn't appear safe. A handful of games were cancelled (Mega Man Legends 3), Konami recently announced plans to delay Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D until 2012, and from July 28-August 4, Walmarts in Canada will sell 3DS for $198, $50 shy of its usual $249.99 MSRP.
To make matters worse, Sony plans to release its new system, PlayStation Vita, late 2011/early 2012.
If this were 2006, it would easy to say "wait until the new Pokemon", but 2011 is a whole other animal. Consumer tastes, and the handheld market, shifted. At this point, nothing's a sure thing when it comes to winning this generation's handheld war, which brings us to the following and borderline painful question:
What if 3DS bombs?
Think about what could potentially happen if Nintendo doesn't sell enough machines.
We'll help you along...
-Nintendo's stock takes a huge hit.
-Consumers lose faith in the company's ability to innovate. Buyers at large were not blown away by glasses free 3D, and some smart phones already have similar technology.
-Leaves the door wide open for Sony to take the lead.
-Likewise for Apple and Android.
-Negatively affects Wii U sales.
That last one's big, because 3DS could in theory be the first domino to fall, thereby crippling Wii U and sending Nintendo into a tailspin. Where would Mario and Co. go from there? Third party publishing, like Sega did post Dreamcast?
It's important to note that the original DS wasn't universally loved at first, then went on to become one of the best selling systems. This time, though, it'll take more than Pikachu to send 3DS rocketing up the sales charts.