The Switch has been doing gangbusters for Nintendo ever since it launched in March earlier this year. The hybrid system has sold 2.74 million unites as of March 2017. The number will likely be a fair amount higher now since the launch of hits Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and ARMs. Nintendo are set to have a very good year with the Switch thanks to a growing library that’s only improving. Splatoon 2, Fire Emblem Warriors and Super Mario Odyssey will launch by the busy Christmas period. For the most part, it seems the system’s seamless switching between handheld and home-console modes amazes people. “You can play Zelda when you’re on the train” is a message that really clicked with millions of people and the Switch would’ve sold far more if it was actively available. In some circles, however, people seem to have forgotten that you could always play Zelda on the train – on your 3DS.
The 3DS has been quietly successful enough for Nintendo over the years. While it hasn’t reached anywhere near the numbers of the DS, Gameboy or even Gameboy Advance, Nintendo has sold over 66 million of the little 3D handheld. Since its launch way back in 2011, the 3DS has built up a reputable line-up of quality games covering a wide array of genres and fan bases. The RPG for example, has made itself a home on the 3DS, with Dragon Quest XI just around the corner – the latest RPG on a console overflowing with them. You could argue that after seven years on the market, the enthusiasm behind a console could dissipate from consumers and developers alike, but the 3DS still seems to be going strong with several high-profile games set to release throughout 2017. Along with the likes of Super Mario Odyssey, Splatoon 2 and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 hitting the Switch, Nintendo has Hey! Pikmin, Metroid: Samus Returns and Pokémon Ultra Sun and Moon releasing on the 3DS.
There’s Life In the Old Dog Yet
There are plenty of high-profile titles coming for the Switch and 3DS. Both machines just saw a fairly high-profile release too. The 3DS got Koichi Ishii’s Ever Oasis whereas the Switch received ARMs. Both are brand new IPs for Nintendo and both have received positive critical responses, but one has sold better than the other has. ARMs has sold well (entering at number two in the UK charts) and looks set to become something of a hit for Nintendo, who will be hoping the game can go on to be another Splatoon style sensation with free content updates scheduled over the coming months and an increased presence in the competitive scene. Ever Oasis meanwhile entered into the UK charts at number 28 – a disappointing return. There are a number of factors behind the limited success of Ever Oasis, but it likely would’ve sold more on the Switch.
Firstly, Ever Oasis is a far more niche prospect than ARMs and simply won’t carry the same broad appeal, as the latter’s motion controls, detailed graphics and exciting-looking gameplay. Your average customer won’t know the work of Koichi Ishii or developers Grezzo. They wouldn’t know that Ever Oasis even exists. Secondly, the 3DS isn’t exciting or new anymore, another factor behind the Switch and its games’ success. If Ever Oasis were a Switch game, it likely would have sold more copies, despite the vast difference of 3DS’s in the wild compared to the Switch. There would have been more advertising for the game at least. Beyond that, people just want games for their Switch. It does not have much of a library as of yet. There is excitement in the new and shiny. The Switch is no different, replacing, for many, the Wii U and the 3DS.
The Switch is New and Exciting
There is a general notion online that people have simply moved on from the 3DS onto the Switch. Why would they take their 3DS with them on long train journeys when they can take their Switch instead? I have seen these sorts of comments plastered over all sorts of 3DS news and reviews articles. Plenty of people seem to want the new Nintendo stuff, but not on the 3DS anymore. Would Metroid: Samus Returns be a better game on the Switch? Outside of prettier graphics, probably not, despite what internet forums and message boards may tell you. The 3DS lets you play the game in stereoscopic 3D and gives you extra help through its second screen, which displays a map. It is a shame that for a number of people out there the 3DS just isn’t good enough anymore.
Thanks to the Switch’s hybrid nature, you can now play home-console quality games on the go. You can play Breath of the Wild on the bus instead of A Link Between Worlds. The Switch lets you play big games on the go that you simply cannot play on the 3DS or Vita. The handheld, however, typically offers different kind of game experiences to the home-console. Handheld games may be traditionally smaller than their home-console cousins may, but this does not mean that they are worse. The 3DS is a machine full of quirky titles to spend your time in that you will not find elsewhere. Games like Project X Zone probably would not cut it as a home-console title. Nintendo fans would be better off if the trusted two-pillar approach to game development continues.
Who Knows What 2018 Holds for the 3DS?
With both a handheld and home-console coming from Nintendo, they treat us to two consoles filled with magnificent content. I hope that Nintendo can treat the Switch and 3DS the same as they did the Wii and DS. There may be arguments against the two-pillar approach along the lines of content gaps and dry spells, but if you own both consoles, there should be more than enough each year to keep you entertained. The likes of Metroid: Samus Returns and Hey! Pikmin suggest that Nintendo are taking the 3DS as seriously as ever. Even with the Switch’s popularity as a handheld device. 2018, however, may see Nintendo drop the 3DS in a big way. Pokémon, which has always been a handheld only franchise, should be hitting the Switch by the end of next year. What this means for the 3DS is anyone’s guess. Perhaps the Switch will kill off the 3DS, but it should never make people resent the glorious 3D handheld.