Grandmas Don’t Love the 3DS


The 3DS is in trouble.

Or is it? But, there are systems and systems galore on the store shelves. Okay, it’s in trouble then.

…….OR IS IT?!

It might be.

One thing Nintendo has done pretty well pre-3DS (and maybe, uh, pre-DSi XL) is manufacture media drama by under-manufacturing units, creating sell outs. Maybe they didn’t realize how well the things would sell, as before the almighty Wii they were in 3rd place for years behind Microsoft and Sony with the Gamecube looking all kiddy and purple with a giant lunchbox handle. (Personally, I really loved that system, but that’s because I also loved Super Mario Sunshine, which no one likes. Which is pretty lame. Which, which, which.)

Old Father Time of History tells us that the Wii was a huge gamble from the very start. Gaming controllers got progressively more confusing to mothers across the nation, at least if Microsoft had anything to do with it, with its giant sized hands. (Microsoft has hands.) Bigger with more buttons and triggers. There’s nothing wrong with that, I GUESS, so the very first image of the Wii Remote controller slightly repulsed me because the thing was so different from the norm. How the hell was I going to play Mario on a TV remote? Oh, play with it on its side. Wait, what is this, the NES? Nerd chucklin’.

Hardcore hate could not kill the buzz. Opening day was fun. I was at an Eagle Rock Target, trying to sleep on cold pavement. Didn’t work somehow, who knows why, so my sister and I resorted to singing 90s mom-alt songs in a state of sleepless delirium, much to the annoyance of everyone else in the line. No one likes Alanis anymore!!

Father Time of History Old Fart Man also says, “It’s hard to believe it now, but the Wii was exciting. Motion gaming as an actual, supposedly integral part of the gaming experience was so new.” He also whispers, “It sold a lot.” Followed by: “I’m so old.”

The local news loved it, too. For years and years it was the system of choice for families, simple gaming anyone could play, including Grandmas who didn’t know how to turn off the blasted TV, and there were NEVER enough of the things.

Now the 3DS has come and hopefully not gone and there are systems everywhere a few weeks after launch. The demand just doesn’t seem to be there.

There are many reasons for this.

  • March 27th is an odd date for a major system release. The Wii was released smack dab in the middle of a holiday season, so there’s an automatic demand no matter what via many Christmas lists.
  • Also, the 3DS on the outside looks like yet another revision of the DS. Nothing screams “completely new system guys!!” on the package, and the distinct lack of press coverage helps aid this inaccuracy.
  • Another is the price… $250 is a lot to ask for. The thing costs more than a Wii, it costs more than a 360. It’s pricey. It probably shouldn’t be, considering it costs (let me try to add “costs” about 300 more times) Ninty about $100 per system (not including advertising, random fees, the price of included software). Although an ideal price would be like $169, I think it’d sell fine maybe even thirty bucks more than that.
  • Apple. Hardcores hate Apple, and the following argument: Apple is popular. (INSTANT ANGER!) The iPad/iPhone/iPod sells a lot, even my dad owning a variation, and the App Store especially is huge. Gaming on the go, 99 cents a pop. There is much to like about this — some worthwhile gaming experiences of mine the past few years have been on an iPod. Sure, there is a sea of shit to wade through to find some decent games (especially experiences that last longer than five minutes), but it’s so simple and fun for short bursts that people who don’t normally game are gaming. Soccer moms, cheerleaders. I don’t know, I’m resorting to stereotypes.
  • Nintendo’s hilariously named Blue Ocean strategy (GAMING FOR EVERYONE!!!) doesn’t work really well with the 3DS. 3D gaming is not something a grandma who loved her Nintendog named Sassy and her daily Brain Age regimen is ever going to be excited about. It was hard to believe that grannies were buying DS’s back then, but now it’s especially hard to think they’d be remotely interested in this. Let me try and sell my grandma on sudoku in 3D, and we’ll see how well that turns out.

In other words, The 3DS is Nintendo’s return to the hardcore base, no matter how much they say otherwise. The thing has better horsepower than before, it has 3D graphics (which add a lot if you’re open minded/delusional?), its online capabilities surpass anything Nintendo has done so far (even though it could be better). The casuals are playing their iPods, and ironically enough their Wiis, and to add yet another gadget to the list is a hard sell in many ways. Even though the thing is designed to be taken everywhere (Streetpass/Play Coins), it’s a little too bulky compared to the svelte iWhatever. That’s why I wear dress pants to work everyday. What an ugly pair of pants!!

  • The games out at launch. No one loves these games. Pilotwings Resort is something that should have been packed in the box (AR Games and FaceRaiders are mini games, at best), not sold for $40. Ports of Rayman and Street Fighter get pretty good reviews but are still ports. Nintendogs is … uhm, Nintendogs. Steel Diver is… Steel Diver? It’s just not the best launch. Everyone seems to be wanting games that are slated for future release, like Zelda OOT (6/19) and Animal Crossing (?/??).

One thing that a lot of naysayers forget is that a meh launch is nothing new. This is not a 3DS specific thing. The DS was kind of a terrible system for awhile, until somewhere in the middle of 2005 when amazing games starting coming out (a good 7+ months later).

Also, a lot of the “3DS is doomed” rhetoric is pure conjecture. Super official numbers haven’t been released yet, and the few that have are nothing to sneeze at (A CHOO!!!). It’s selling fine, and well enough, but something tells me it won’t ever be as big as the Wii or the original DS.

This is fine because:

  • Nintendo needs a fire lit under their ass again. Competition is healthy, in so many ways. It brings out the best and reduces the laziness (or here’s hoping). Better/more games, better updates.
  • Nintendo does the underdog thing pretty well. This is purely a nostalgic viewpoint, but that purple lunchbox, I mean the GameCube, created some great times back then for me. A lot of weird games came out for it (PIKMIN, ANIMAL CROSSING YEAH) and I want a return to something like that. I can’t stand the casual friendly boring look of many Wii games, with Arial-like fonts and huge ass buttons on menus. Making something streamlined just for the sake of doing it seems so stupid. Personality is key.
  • Cheaper prices. MAYBE? Doubtful. I don’t know, I just thought I needed another bullet point.

Worrying about a system during its infancy is nothing new to nerds, so saying “just relax” is a little futile. But that’s really just it — there’s nothing particularly worrisome yet. It won’t sell as well perhaps, but then again for once it maybe doesn’t need to. We’ll still get Mario and it’s Kart sibling with its annoying ass blue shell, and the holidays will come and spoiled children across the globe will be kicking and screaming for these things. Also, I have no idea why this last paragraph has really tiny font.


2 thoughts on “Grandmas Don’t Love the 3DS

  1. Nice write up. I never realized before reading this how much Apple has really taken the handheld market by storm. The fact that everyone has a fucking iPhone or iPod touch has really helped to lean things in favor of Apple. I don’t know why anyone would buy an iPod touch for strict gaming purposes, but people are generally less smart than I give them credit for. The new Sony handheld (NGP?) looks amazing, but I’m sure the launch price will be much more than the 3Ds and will really cause consumers to shy away.

    Like you sort of touched on, I think the launch was kind of rushed. I’m sure the DS/DSi/Dsi XL still have significant market share, enough for them to justify holding off on the 3DS launch for a few months. It seems that when systems have weak or few launch titles, their sales really hurt in the beginning. That said, I think the 3DS will be fine. It’s usually just the hardcore fan base that get systems at launch, with everyone else chipping in after a price drop or significant buzz. If they can stack their game lineup by November, it’ll be a hot commodity this holiday season.

  2. I really like what you had to say. Bringing to light the complexities of the gaming industry one blog at a time. I’d be you’re 1st subscriber.

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