The introduction of the New 3DS is both exciting and puzzling as not only does it add new features, but its features are such that they could cause a large problem of segmenting the 3DS market into two groups. This is not the first time Nintendo has done such a thing, but it is the first time that it has done this to such an extent. If Nintendo is to pull this off it will not only require a decent marketing strategy but a business strategy that doesn’t burn existing consumers but also creates a desire to upgrade.

Before getting into how this can segment the market, let me first go over the changes. If you already know the changes, skip down to Segmented Markets.

Whats new?

The obvious change that sticks out when looking at the picture above is the addition of the “Second Analog Stick.” Now, I put that in quotes because in reality it is more like a pointing stick found on older laptops. You remember right? Those little nubs that sat in the middle of your keyboard for moving the mouse. Well (to me at least) it looks like a pointing stick positioned above the X and Y Buttons, but its goal is to serve as a small second analog stick. Most games for the 3DS that make use of a CCP (Circle Pad Pro) only use it for controlling the camera and having something small like this to fill that function actually works quite well if that’s all it will be used for. For games that actually use the CCP to aim such as Resident Evil, it might be a little difficult but we wont really know until we have it in our hands.

Next up is the addition of two shoulder buttons as seen on the picture to the right. I am somewhat perplexed by the decision to add these buttons as I have always found the shoulder buttons somewhat awkward to use for extended periods of time. To have another button further out seems to just adds to that problem by making it worse.

Finally, the last addition (that this article is concerned about) is an increase in CPU power. Mainly this will simply allow for things like better frames when 3D is on and making the menu system and internet browser move at a worthwhile pace.

There are a couple more changes such as a crisper screen,auto brightness, head tracking, and Amiibo support; but those really are not relevant to this article.

Segmented Markets

This is where things get complicated with the New 3DS line. Typically hardware revisions, even from Nintendo, do very little to segment the market. The largest extent we have seen with Nintendo’s hardware revisions was from the DS Light to the DSi in which features such as internet, an online shop, and finally a camera were added. Those who had only an original DS or DS light missed out on the online shop in terms of games, which was filled with much smaller titles for the most part rather then full fledged games. There were also a few games that took advantage of the addition of the camera or other functions that the DSi brought to the table that were considered DSi enhanced. Basically if you only have the original DS or DS light you would simply not have those feature while playing but could still complete the game.

Now we have the New 3DS line which not only has new features, its features are such that they bar certain games from even being able to work on the previous models. That’s not the major kick in the balls as the DSi did the same thing, the difference now is that the first exclusive for the new model is a port of Xenoblade Chronicles which is by no means a lackluster game, but it is still a port . This does beg the question, however, of how much and what specifically will be exclusive to the New 3DS line? If it’s too much then older 3DS owners will feel shafted. but on the other side of the coin if it’s not enough then why upgrade?

It’s a Balancing Act

A lot is unknown right now in terms of what will and won’t be exclusives for the New 3DS. All we can say right now is that everything coming out except Xenoblade Chronicles will be available to all versions. But what we can talk about is what consumers would find acceptable and as always I have a theory of what Nintendo has in mind.

I truly can’t imagine Nintendo going full force with this idea that new 3DS games will require the newer hardware simply because this is not a brand new generation, this is simply a big revision. So if they don’t plan on making a large mass of new games, what will they do instead to entice people to upgrade?

My theory has already been presented: ports. That’s right. Xenoblade Chronicles seems a bit of an odd choice for the 3DS considering how big of a game it is(design wise was not meant for a handheld) but it has three things going for it that make it an actual good choice:

The first lies with the fact that it is a popular franchise.  It’s not a smash hit like Mario, but it most definitely has a cult following–enough of one that you only can find the game in used condition (usually) above $60. Second, is that Xenoblade Chronicles never had many copies made (at least for the West), so if you are like me, you are going to have to pay a premium or just not play the game. The last reason is the most important because it starts to tie in a few things here: Nintendo wishes to build the Xenoblade franchise to become more popular.

Let’s examine the evidence:

  1. The main Character was recently added to the Smash Brother’s roster
  2. The sequel to Xenoblade Chronicles, X , is coming out soon on Wii U
  3. Xenoblade Chronicles is quite overpriced and thus hard to find/play
  4. Many more people own a 3DS and most likely will own a New 3DS

So all those together basically boils down to: get people interested in Xenoblade; a lot more people will own New 3DS; they will get interested in the series; they might purchase a Wii U.

So perhaps the New 3DS will only have ports of existing games. I think that would be a good compromise between wanting a reason to purchase a New 3DS and not burning their existing customers. It also would explain the additional shoulder buttons and having the second analogue stick as a requirement for said ports while keeping 3DS games as 3DS games without getting confused about the name, which leads to the final issue balancing this release.

Don’t Worry about the Name

There is a lot of concern about the name with consumers getting confused easily and let’s be honest: Nintendo has been quite bad when it comes to names lately (Ex. Wii U, 2DS). However, I feel like this is one we don’t have to worry about simply because we don’t understand Japanese.  In Japanese the 3DS is spelled like:

 ニンテンドー3DS

Now the New 3DS in Japanese is

 NEW ニンテンドー3DS

Note the difference between the two, the key is that New is in English for the Japanese spelling and when you translate the Japanese spelling to English you obviously would get the word New as….New. So lets flip this around real quick and rather directly translate it, simply inversely mimic what Nintendo did you would get something like

Atarashii Nintendo 3DS

(I do not speak or write Japanese, so I have no idea if this is the proper version of “new.”)

It’s a lot easier to distinguish now because its a non-English word in front of it. I personally don’t believe this is what Nintendo will do because mixing English words into Japanese ones is typical over there (ie, every anime opening song ever) while for us the opposite is not the case.

I am hoping the new 3DS is called something along the lines of 3DSE (E stands for Enhanced) as it rolls off the tongue and keeps 3DS intact to quickly show it’s part of the same family. But you know that’s me and I always love coming up with ideas for branding.

Ultimately in the end, the issue will lies with Nintendo distinguishing between the two versions without burning existing customers and also providing enough reason to purchase the new version. This will require some delicate footwork, but hopefully Nintendo will pull it off despite recent past failures. All I know is that for me?  They simply need to make a Monster Hunter 4 Special Edition with the new Model and I am onboard in a heartbeat!

Tell me what you think in the comments below.