For Nintendo, 2019 has been a very good year. The company has seen explosive growth in its console segments thanks to a variety of quality games and publishing initiatives. The recent quarterly earnings report for the Japanese company showed major growth overall, with many of their biggest franchises leading the charge.
But the real star of this year has been the Switch, as the portable console has helped catapult the mega-publisher to new heights both in terms of the reach of their games and quality of those efforts. A big part of that push has been of course helped along by the inclusion of all of their major franchises. From Mario and Zelda to Pokemon, Nintendo has been consistently delivering high quality titles, both as mainline games and as offshoots. Of course, an increased focus on retro titles and online services has also helped out on this front. One point in particular shows how the Lite has helped Nintendo gain a fair bit of ground. Takashi Mochizuki from the Wall Street Journal showed that the Lite sold 800,000 units in the US, whereas in Japan the handheld only sold 390,000. This is the inverse of the typical trend, where Japan is typically a stronger market for Nintendo on the portable front. Maybe the Switch has helped turn the tide on a deeper level when it comes to American gamers.
One area where things are not so rosy is the 3DS. Nintendo 3DS sales have amounted to 0.37 million units in the past six months ending with September. That’s a 62.9 per cent decrease year-on-year, whereas its games sold 2.60 million units in the same time frame, accounting for a 58.5 per cent decrease year-on-year. This drop in sales is inevitable for the aging platform, and it has been undoubtedly helped along by the monster success of the Switch and Switch Lite. The newer Switch Lite in particular is almost acting like a replacement for the 3DS, as it offers an arguably much higher quality experience in a completely portable package. To support that point, it seems like there’s a ton of suspicion among fans and analysts that Nintendo is planning a phasing out of the older DS line by porting its most popular mobile franchises over to the Switch platform.
Of course fans are curious as to what Nintendo’s plans are for the future. There have been reports going back months that Nintendo was planning on dropping the 3DS, as many models seemingly ended production. So what will Nintendo do with DS stalwarts? The trends looks to be headed towards new games.
We’re already seeing this with Pokemon Sword and Shield, the first full game in the franchise to land on a console. The last 3DS titles in the franchise where major hits, but they haven’t helped revive the aging portable system. Pokémon X and Y, Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, Pokemon Sun and Moon, and Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon are all great games, but it seems very unlikely that Nintendo would go the re-release or remaster route with these games. If anything of the sort comes for these older titles on the Switch, we’re likely to see a new take on older classics.
It’s unknown if classic 3DS games or niche titles will make the jump to the Switch though, as nothing has been announced and its mostly just hope and speculation at this point.