Posted on June 01 2011 by Nathanial Rumphol-Janc
As the image to the left shows, Nintendo’s 3DS sold big on its launch day. It doesn’t hide the fact that sales since then have largely declined, with expected sales to date far below the expected. In a recent article I suggested that the reason was a poor launch game lineup meaning that the console wasn’t yet worth its market value.
My reasoning holds true, but a recent survey from Goo Research tells us that the software is only the 5th and 6th reasons people aren’t buying the 3DS. Their top ten list attributes price to be the number one factor.
The survey used a sample size of 1,110 people, with 39.5% male and 60.5% female. Personally, I think those gender ratios aren’t proportionately accurate of the 3DS gaming market, but let’s not get into all of the probability and sampling mathematics behind that. We’re not sure where their sample came from either. Here’s the top ten:
1. Price is high/waiting for a price drop
2. Satisfied by DS/DSi
3. Worried about eye strain
4. Worried about getting sick from the screen
5. Few launch titles
6. Will buy once a game I want is released
7. Satisfied by cell phone and smartphone games
8. Satisfied by PSP
9. The battery is weak
10. It’s heavy and I don’t feel like carrying it with me
In my opinion, software is more of a ‘core gamer’ issue, than the wider community. For example, many of our viewers and even staff members haven’t purchased a 3DS yet. They are going to, but only when the software is worth it. Take Alex as an example, who hasn’t yet got himself a 3DS because Ocarina of Time isn’t here yet. That meant there was no need to rush, but now that he intends to, price is the issue.
Those of us who intend to get one eventually don’t tend to worry so much about the price. I mean, it’s a Nintendo console. I may be a poor student, but I’d sacrifice food, some weekend nights out and many other things, to get a 3DS. That’s why price wasn’t an issue for me. Sure a price drop would be nice, but it doesn’t stop us core Nintendo gamers eventually getting it.
It’s the wider community, or casual players, where price is the issue. The type of people who impulse buy, or who will go for the console first, and then see what the software is once they’ve made the purchase. They are who price is the real issue for.
Nintendo knows that software sells consoles just as much as the console itself, and I see most of these reasons in the list actually to be about software. Price as an issue means it isn’t worth it because it lacks games. People are satisfied by their DS/DSi’s because the 3DS lacks exclusive games. In fact, I don’t own any 3DS games yet, and the only reason I use my 3DS is to play DS games. Ocarina of Time will be my first 3DS game. Of course, if I had money I would have gotten Street Fighter IV and Pilotwings, but it was not to be.
Reasons three and four are extremely unfounded. Worry about eye-strain and sickness are unfounded. I mean it is true that it can hurt the eyes, but you just need to show some restraint and not play for six consecutive hours. Perhaps this is a case where Nintendo’s over cautious marketing campaign has caused unnecessary fear in consumers. I wonder if this point includes people who can’t see 3D. Do the sample realize that you can turn the 3D off?
Five and six are the main reasons in my opinion, as I’ve said. Things like price can be related back to this. What’s interesting to note is that this is a Japanese survey, and their launch lineup was far superior to ours. They got Professor Layton for instance. I would imagine that a survey in the west would probably rank software issues higher up.
Reasons seven and eight pertain mostly to people with issues. Honestly, how can a cell/smart phone satisfy your gaming needs? PSPs are slightly better, but far from satisfying – if I can sneak in some personal bias.
Nine is a valid reason, just not valid to me. If you do take your console around, and not just play it at home, battery is an issue. Again though, who cares about battery if you’ve got good software. It’s just a slight annoyance. Maybe the battery life can be a good thing because it forces you not to play so long that you get eye strain.
Lastly, I wouldn’t call the 3DS heavy, and if you have a bag it isn’t really a problem to carry around. Besides, if there are games worth playing you could just play them at home. It may be a bit pant-pocket heavy, but if we follow along with Iwata and Reggie, they are intended for suit pockets.
If you are yet to buy a 3DS, what is your reasoning? I’d be willing to bet that it’s either price, or waiting for good games (ie Ocarina of Time) in most cases – but I’m prepared for that not to be the case now that I’ve said so. Nevertheless, let us know in the comments.