Time, it seems, is up for Nintendo 3DS.
Although Nintendo expects steady sales from the 3DS family of products during its next financial year -- to the tune of 100,000 console sales and 500,000 software sales -- there are no plans for any further first-party games.
Indeed, Nintendo's portable teams all appear to be working on Nintendo Switch games, with new titles in the Pokémon, Animal Crossing, Luigi's Mansion and Fire Emblem franchises, plus an isometric Zelda adventure. These are all titles that have performed strongly, critically and commercially, on 3DS during the last generation.
Furthermore, rumours persist of a new, cheaper Switch model designed to be Nintendo's new entry-level gaming device, which is a role the 3DS has held since the Switch launched in 2017.
"It's worth evaluating just how well the 3DS performed, because the numbers don't represent the full picture"
So with its era coming to an end, it's worth evaluating just how well the 3DS performed. Because, in this case, the numbers don't really represent the full picture.
The 3DS will end its life as the worst performing Nintendo handheld; its 75 million lifetime sales place it behind the Game Boy Advance, which managed 81.5 million units over nine years. The 3DS did manage to sell slightly more software (378 million units) than the Game Boy Advance (377 million units), but the GBA was also only on the market for just over three years before Nintendo launched the DS, which quickly became the platform holder's focus.
More significantly, the 3DS will have sold less than half the number of units that its predecessor, the DS, managed. The figures suggest that not only was the 3DS a misstep for Nintendo, but -- coupled with the terrible sales of PS Vita -- evidence of a handheld market in serious decline.
However, context is king. Comparing figures from different eras might be important to shareholders and analysts, but it can also be misleading. I'd argue that not only was the 3DS a success, but it also proved the viability of dedicated handheld game devices.
The first thing to consider is that although 75 million console sales puts it at the bottom of the Nintendo handheld league table, when factoring in the wider dedicated games console business, it actually fares quite well. It sits just outside the top ten best-selling consoles of all time, ahead of the NES, SNES and Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, and within touching distance of PSP and GBA.
It also had to recover from one of the most calamitous launches in Nintendo's history -- beaten only, perhaps, by Wii U.
The initial launch looked good on paper, with 3.61 million consoles sold during its first month, one of the fastest selling consoles in history. However, Nintendo had actually expected to sell four million minimum during that first month, and during the next financial quarter sales ground to a halt.