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3DS sales have slowed, but Nintendo still sees a market for its long-running handheld

3DS sales have slowed, but Nintendo still sees a market for its long-running handheld

February 8, 2019 | By Alissa McAloon

February 8, 2019 | By Alissa McAloon
More: Console/PC

The 3DS is entering the eighth year of its lifespan and seems to be living the shadow of Nintendo's partially portable Switch more often than not. Despite this, Nintendo still insists there is demand for its family of 3D handhelds, even though unit sales have fallen in the system’s twilight years.

Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa responded to a question on the company’s plans for both systems in a recent investor Q&A, saying that, in short, the 3DS still has appeal with younger, and often first time, players. 

“That is why our basic policy is to proceed with both Nintendo Switch and Nintendo 3DS in our dedicated video game platform business,” says Furukawa.

During its most recent financial report, Nintendo dropped its full-year 3DS hardware forecast from 4 million units to 2.6 million units with three months to go in the 2018-19 fiscal year. Year-over-year, Nintendo 3DS hardware sales fell 60.5 percent to 2.3 million units. Software sales saw a similar decrease, falling 64.5 percent year-over-year to 11.08 million.

Furukawa acknowledges that the 3DS market has “contracted faster than we anticipated,” but says that the 3DS has still appeal due to its small size and low price point, which currently falls between $80 and $200 depending on the model being purchased. He says this makes the 3DS a common choice for parents looking to purchase a video game system for their young children, a market Nintendo has mentioned many times before when questions about the viability of the 3DS in the age of the Switch have crept up. 

That same question also briefly asks about a new Switch model that is rumored to release this year at a lower price point, though Furukawa doesn’t directly comment on that. Instead, he says the company’s future plans for the Switch revolve around increasing demand for the system until the point that players decide that one system per household isn’t enough.

This comes after Nintendo slightly lowered its full-year Switch sales expectations from 20 million units to 17 million. While the system has been selling well, Nintendo leadership believes that a failure to properly convey the appeal of the Switch led to that lowered forecast. 

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