Iwata Explains Why No New 3DS For NA and EU

Posted by at 4:34 pm on October 30, 2014

New 3DS ModelsNintendo released two new versions of its 3DS handheld system in Japan earlier this month, named New Nintendo 3DS and New Nintendo 3DS LL (aka XL). Old Nintendo 3DS owners in the US and Europe aren’t going to be debating whether to drop another couple hundred bucks on the upgrade anytime soon though. Why? Because Nintendo doesn’t think the first generation has sold enough units yet.

Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata explained in a briefing for investors recently that it based the decision on 3DS’ comparative popularity in Japan and overseas. In Japan, almost 17 million 3DS systems have been sold in the three and a half years since launch, and sales appeared to be slowing down–demand was satisfied, so a new product was introduced. Neither the US nor Europe have exceeded that figure despite their larger population’s much greater potential for sales–thus, “an earlier stage of popularization in these two markets”.

This was not a small updagrade, the new models include many major improvements. The New 3DS designs add a C-stick on the right side of the system, two extra shoulder buttons, a 3D effect that works from a wider range of angles, a built-in NFC receiver for Amiibo compatibility, and an improved processor. Said processor reduces load times in the system’s interface, improves download speeds, and–here’s the kicker–allows it to play more CPU-intensive games like the upcoming Xenoblade Chronicles port. It’s more like the upgrade from Game Boy to Game Boy Color, if Game Boy Color also added L and R buttons and sweet customizable faceplates.

To be fair, Nintendo might not have enough manufacturing resources to satisfy holiday demand for a new system in additional regions, and demand for all the old systems sitting on shelves would suffer if it announced a global release date. But if those concerns also figured in, Iwata didn’t express them. What he did express was concerning, if not surprising, considering the company’s long history of head-scratching business decisions: they plan to hold a cool new product back in certain parts of the world because the old, less-attractive-by-comparison models haven’t done well enough yet.

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