Nintendo admits 3DS sales disappointment

Console maker to refocus marketing efforts as 4 million sales target missed

As expected Nintendo has revealed that the 3DS portable has missed its initial sales targets worldwide, with the company planning to reposition its marketing approach as a result.

Prior to the launch of the 3DS, Nintendo predicted 4 million sales by the end of the year. Although the portable console saw strong first week sales in all territories these quickly tailed off in subsequent weeks - as initially reported by third party analysts.

As a result the shipped total reached only 3.61 million by the end of the month.

Although the shortfall does not appear to be as large as some feared, assuming the sales total is similar to the shipped figure, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has been quick to acknowledge the problems.

It has become clear that we need to do a lot more to convey the value to consumers.

Satoru Iwata, Nintendo

Speaking at an investor presentation following the company's recent financial results, Iwata claimed that the earthquake disaster in Japan had been a primary cause of low sales but that it could not explain similar drop-offs in Europe and North America.

"The initial sales were healthy," said Iwata of the Japanese launch in February. "However, the sales speed slowed down from the third week after its launch which is not what we had expected for the start-up transition."

"We originally expected that the value of 3D images without the need for special glasses would be automatically spread to some extent by many consumers experiencing the device by themselves and then playing with the pre-installed software like Nintendo 3DS Camera, AR Games and Face Raiders together with people around them," he continued.

"However, as a result of analysis of the situation after the launch, it has become clear that we need to do a lot more to convey the value to consumers," admitted Iwata.

Iwata highlighted that even shop demonstrations of the 3D effect were proving ineffective, where users did not adjust the 3D Slider to suit their eyes. He also suggested that new marketing efforts needed to be concentrated on emphasising the StreetPass and SpotPass features, as well as built-in software such as Face Raiders and AR Games.

The upcoming May firmware update, which will include the eShop and other online features, was also described as a key focus for future marketing.

A lack of choice amongst the initial line-up of games, which has suffered particular criticism in the West, was also identified as a key issue - with Iwata highlighting the upcoming release of titles such as Steel Diver, Zelda: Ocarina Of Time, and Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D in Japan.

"Nintendo will be working with our full strength in order to spread Nintendo 3DS as a mainstream handheld device, along with the third party developers and with our sales partners," he concluded.

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Latest comments (13)

The biggest issue I have seen among consumers is they still think the "3DS" is a "DS" - just with "3D" (whereas its an entirely new platform). Maybe they needed a new brand name, or a "II" with it.

Anyway, if shipment targets are really just down 10% on what they predicted, and given that most of that happened in Japan - they have actually done pretty well with it.
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Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 11 years ago
You should have had a better range of launch titles in my opinion. If you waited a couple of months whentitles like Zelda and Metal Gear are out, that would have changed a lot in my opinion.
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game11 years ago
He thinks they need to emphasise street pass and spot pass, and augmented reality. I think most people won't pay 209 for augmented reality, and think showing off Mario will be a lot more effective.
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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 11 years ago
Really??? To me a 3DS really is a DS but with 3D... It does have more powerful graphics and stuff, but I dont find the expirience a step above anything the DS can do. And the price is way... WAY to high. Street pass is a great feature, but unlike cel phones and smart phones, how many people carry a 3DS around for you to use that feature.

But what hurt the 3DS the most was the dependancy on previose DS success... They just released a bunch of ported games and remakes, very few original titles and titles made specifically for the system. And the bumped up the price thinking people were going to buy it. Also the price of games are too high, When i can find most AAA tirles on PS3 and 360 for 19.99$. And finally, the battery life. that thing eats up battery life way too quickly to make it portable.

I want a 3DS... Im just waiting for the price to come down and seeing what SONYs NGP/PSP2 has to offer. 3DS is a system with lots of potential. I just feel they did a few things wrong. And its also good nintendo gets a reality check, they have become arrogant as of late. Hope they bring back the Golden Nintendo Seal of "Quality".
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.11 years ago
Rick, that seal of quality never had any relation to the content of the game or the quality of the content itself. It simply certified the game would work properly on Nintendo hardware and/or was a licensed product.
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Simon Jensen Lead Developer, Swiftthought Games11 years ago
Spend 10 minutes at Walmart's electronic section and you'll see the kids walk up to it, fiddle with it, rub their eyes and wander over to the display case with the XLs and new Pokemon games or the iPod Touch.

Expecting the kids to read instructions and adjust sliders for comfort levels in the 2 minutes they have before mom comes to make them to try on pants is not going to be the solution.

Add in the fact that when you get 2 or more people crowding the unit around the only person who doesn't see a shimmery mess is the one holding it, that's not helping either. Kinda makes it hard to show it off in the schoolyard.

It'll be interesting to see if Nintendo can come up with a new Pokemon level experience to sell the kids on these or if it winds up as Virtual boy 2.0 in the dustbin of electronics history.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.11 years ago
Simon, the age level on the 3DS doesn't stop at 12. The DS was highly successful with older age groups. No reason to expect the 3DS not to as well.

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I was one of the early adopters. The sad fact was , there were just not enough significant games at launch. There is only so much street fighter to play.
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Simon Jensen Lead Developer, Swiftthought Games11 years ago
Oh I'm quite aware :) I've got several, and my kids have their own as well. However I can't convince them to even try the 3ds for more than 30 seconds at the store.

The early adopters and adults with disposable income already bought their 4mil units, it's the kids that will drive the bulk of demand for them this fall. And from what I'm seeing it's not there.
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There weren't any strong launch titles, of COURSE the sales would be weak. What's the point in buying hardware when there isn't any supporting software.

Super Street Fighter IV is only going to be fun for so long before you want to do something else.
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Haven Tso Web-based Game Reviewer 11 years ago
It's good that they admit the issue though. However whether they are going to just pay lip services to rectify it is another issue. As some of you pointed out, the initial price was too high and considering that it is riding on the downward slope of DS, you do need an extremely strong launch line up to build the interest. That said as Jimmy pointed out in another thread earlier on, the original DS didn't sell like hot cakes until Nintendogs (which at that time was a novelty) and Brain Training came out. So if Nintendo positions itself more tactfully with the upcoming titles, then 3DS can still have a chance to establish itself before the onslaught from NGP.
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Thomas Palpant Writer/editor for, a french industry videogames website 11 years ago
The price is evidently the main problem... 3DS cost 100 more than the DS in 2004, which was a brand new product, very innovative... It is hard for Nintendo to justify this price increase, particularly if the 3DS is perceived as another DS evolution. The wow effect of the 3D is not enough, and there are no games... The 3DS wasn't well marketed, just like the PS3 in 2006
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Neil Griffin Studying Computer Arts, University of Abertay Dundee11 years ago
I don't think the price is as big a problem as the lack of decent games. I love my 3DS and everyone I've shown it to has been really impressed with it but until Resident Evil comes out it probably won't be getting played as much as it should.
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