NOV. 28, 2012 • Less than a month before Dec. 25th Nintendo of America announced its holiday plans for 3DS XL. The system, which sports 90% more screen area than the 3DS, was originally released on Aug. 19. With no change to the standalone $199 price the special edition 3DS XL bundle includes a copy of Mario Kart 7 pre-installed. The game was released at retail on Dec. 4 of last year yet became available through Nintendo’s eShop more recently on Oct. 18. In related news, Nintendo of America’s Canadian branch is releasing the new $99 Wii Mini on Dec. 7. The restyled unit is smaller, lacks Internet connectivity, and does not support GameCube titles. The smaller red and black system comes with a red Wii Remote Plus, a red Nunchuk controller and works with most Wii accessories. In the U.S., Nintendo continues to sell the mostly fully featured Wii at $129.
Impact: From our vantage point Nintendo has been very quiet on the 3DS XL front. We honestly expected to have heard more about the system in the retail run-up to Black Friday. It is understandable that the gamemaker wanted to focus it attention on the Wii U launch, but the 3DS has sold well to date despite withering competition from smartphones, and many consumers may require more persuasion where the 3DS XL’s larger format is concerned. The bundle with Mario Kart 7 is a good move – one that Nintendo needs to push strongly before the end of the year. As for the Wii Mini, we find the exclusive Canadian launch for this truncated version of the system – as opposed to Latin America or Eastern Europe – rather intriguing. True, there are many places in Canada lacking for decent broadband access, yet the exclusive release there of this new top-loading Wii seems more like a test than a statement on the Canadian market. The test being whether Canadians, or anyone else, would prefer an Internet-less Wii for $30 to $50 off when the full deal is easily available, and Wii U units are pouring in.
When the GameCube was sunsetted, Nintendo pretty much cut support for the system. When existing stock was gone there was no cheaper GameCube to take its place. True, the Wii was an enhanced GameCube with an already low price by console introduction standards, and Nintendo’s third-place in market share really did not warrant extending the GameCube as a brand. Six years later after the Wii’s phenomenal run, there is a reason to extend the lifecycle of the system. Yet as we said before, we think the Wii with Internet is a much stronger sell to consumers at $99. In Western markets there are plenty of used Wii games to feed the Wii Mini with low-cost content. We are still left wondering, however, whether a disc-less model with Internet would have been a better bet now that eShop is coming on strong, especially in emerging markets. That said, we will be curious to see how well the Wii Mini sells in the coming weeks.