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3DS sells under 400,000 in US debut

New system outsold by original DS during March; falls short of analyst expectations

The 3DS handheld sold under 400,000 units during its US debut, according to Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime.

Speaking to USA Today, Fils-Aime said he was pleased with the opening sales for the system which launched on March 27.

However, the new console was outsold by the original DS systems, including the DSi and DSiXL, which shifted 460,000 units during the month, thanks in part to the launch of Pokemon Black and White - titles with combined sales of 2.5 million.

Analyst Cowen & Company had predicted the system would shift around 750,000 units in the US, and the system sold less than the more conservative 500,000 prediction of Wedbush Morgan.

"We staged supply so it would not sell out," said Fils-Aime. "We had product going direct to store and we also had product in retailers (distribution centers), so they could easily replenish when they had stores running low on inventory.

"That strategy is why you didn't see massive sellouts on Nintendo 3DS. Obviously, a sell-through of 400,000 units in one week is exceptional. And the fact that we achieved that without people being worried about massive stockouts and shortages just underscored how we properly executed our supply chain."

European sales of the 3DS came in at 303,000 units in its opening month, including 113,000 in the UK and 50,000 in Germany.

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Latest comments (16)

Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game8 years ago
400000 is good sales, but they really should have launched with a Mario, Zelda or Pokemon title. I know that's easier said than done, but I bet there are plenty of Nintendo fans that are interested in the 3DS that just arn't going out to the shops to pick up Nintendogs or pilotwings.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.8 years ago
Andrew, I think they held back to give 3rd parties a bigger chance. At least this has been their gameplan for 3DS since it was unveiled.
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game8 years ago
@Jimmy. Possibly, but I'm not sure it was the right call. They could have used Mario and Zelda to get the device into more consumers hands, then held off with the second wave of first party titles, giving the third parties a chance still, but with a bigger install base.
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Show all comments (16)
Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.8 years ago
I don't think the increased hardware volume would be enough to overtake the shadow they'd stand in over a Mario or Zelda title. Hardware may have gone up 20% - 25% but their software would have lost sales to Mario or Zelda.

Don't forget, the DS didn't set the world on fire in the early days either....and that did have a Mario title to launch with.
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Daniel Hughes Studying PhD Literary Modernism, Bangor University8 years ago
I think Nintendo have considered what happened with the Wii and learnt some lessons here. Namely that they could have sold far more, for a higher price during the launch period, and indeed during the first 12 to 18 months if they'd realised it. They must have been kicking themselves when Wii was perpetually sold out for months on end. This time I don't think they want to miss out on all that cash. It's worth considering these US sales represent only 3 or 4 days of sales, though, compared to a full month of hardware sales of the venerable DS line, which had Pokemon launch early on in the month. It's also the biggest launch for a Pokemon title in the US.

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Tommy Thompson Studying Artificial Intelligence (PhD), University of Strathclyde8 years ago
I imagine that as Jimmy says, the 3DS will pick up steam, probably towards years end. It's not a surprising headline: it's a lot of money to part with for a new handheld, and indeed many who will buy it will no doubt already have a DS. It will pick up business as the first party titles get released - and if the other sales figures are anything to go by, a 3D Pokemon game will do the job nicely - along with good word of mouth (if it's generated).
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Never under estimate the power of Final Fantasy!
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Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 8 years ago
I think many are waiting for first party titles before making a purchase, I'm sure it'll pick up.
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Kieren Bloomfield Software Engineer, EA Sports8 years ago
It hasn't had its big marketing push yet. The public still don't know much about it or that it exists yet. I've still not seen one running. Our local HMV has stock but it's mixed in with the DS stuff and the only one on display is in a locked display case where you can't touch it and it's not switched on. Give it some time and some demo pods...
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Haven Tso Web-based Game Reviewer 8 years ago
The interesting thing is there are lots of 3DS ads for the console itself but not for the launch games. So people may not know how it will look like or play out unless they tried it. 3DS is a see it to believe it kind of console. However, the price point is indeed an inhibition.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 8 years ago
Kieran, here in the US, there are 3DS TV ads all over the place, but I'm gathering where you are they haven't popped up yet. Anyway, the launch lineup isn't so hot at all and makes me wonder why even bother to launch a new system if you're not going to roll out "A" titles that show off what they system can do on day one.

I'm tired of tired launches where you're buying into "potential" rather than seeing examples of top-shelf work that points to even better titles in the future. As much as Nintendo was pushing the 3D effect, it' just not well served in the initial set of games enough to warrant a buy. Had the system launched with Zelda, Kid Icarus, Resident Evil and perhaps a few more key genres (a solid racer, shooter, classic RPG, a better fighter and some well-done puzzle/casual games), the numbers might have been a bit higher (that is, if more than that 400K had the bucks to spend on those games)...

Instead, there are a bunch of mostly "OK" titles that show it's better to wait a while to drop that cash until something blows the naysayers out of the tank and makes them want to rush out and own one.
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game8 years ago
@Greg. Totally agree. The closest thing to a system seller is Street Fighter, and that is a port with an extra view, some street pass gimmicks and an apparently awkward control system.
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Russ Greeno Freelance Video Game Reviewer 8 years ago
This is a very negative outlook, I mean you could have said that the 3DS nearly sold as many units as the much cheaper DS did with a stronger launch line up.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 8 years ago
@Greg
maybe Nintendo wanted to open the door for 3rd party on this one. They can't be happy when their hardware is constantly dubbed as hostile territory for 3rd parties, because such a perception only helps Nintendo's competitors. It has to be the goal of Nintendo to attract all the best 3rd party IP as well. If everybody just bought the new Mario, Zelda, Pokemon, then all Nintendo would achieve is creating angry third parties and a stronger PSP exclusive lineup; e.g. Monster Hunter.

The same happened to a degree with the Wii motion plus, which was also attempted to be released in a very 3rd party friendly way. As important as Nintendo's first party success was for their finance, going into the future they will want more of a share when it comes to major third party IPs. If that means only releasing soccer mom games at the launch of a console and holding back on their own juggernauts for later, then that is a relatively small price to pay. We might see the same thing happening on the Wii successor.
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game8 years ago
@Klaus. Whilst in theory that works, SF4 aside, where were the system selling third party titles. Maybe they could have made sure they launched when a few Capcom/EA/Square Enix titles were ready?
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 8 years ago
@Andrew
Nintendo can only do so much. It is a huge move on Nintendo's part to even leave the software battlefield to the third parties. The third parties have to come up with the system sellers themselves. When the 3DS was announced all the 3rd publishers name-dropped their biggest franchises without hesitation, meaning Nintendo successfully sold them on their new system and the new game release strategy. In all likelihood the time between access to a dev kit and release was not enough to come up with a Resident Evil game, or a Metal Gear Solid, certainly not a Square RPG. Meaning third parties defaulted back to titles which can be handled in a short development cycle, such as a Fighting game conversion and racing game with established courses.

Nintendo will learn from that and when the next home console comes around I bet developers will have had much more time to develop a game. The next Wii will potentially be released with a Fifa game, the next CoD, some fantasy RPG and a Need for Speed. Nobody will then ever dare insult Nintendo as being hostile towards 3rd parties or unfriendly towards "hardcore" players. It will be things like that determining which manufacturer will be big on the next console cycle and I see Nintendo improving a lot of things they were criticized before.
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