SEPT. 1, 2015 • The New Nintendo 3DS is making its North American debut on September 25. The model was introduced in Japan with the larger screen New 3DS XL last fall in Japan, and later in Europe on February 13. But North America only got the New 3DS XL model at the same time as Europe. The New 3DS that U.S. and Canadian consumers will receive is a $219.99 bundle SKU including the new release Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer, one Amiibo card, and interchangeable cover plates. In related news, on October 30, GameStop will market an exclusive gold $199.99 New Nintendo 3DS XL with a Hylian Crest emblazoned on the case front.
Impact: Not releasing the New 3DS in North America caught many of Nintendo of America’s core fan base off guard. Many of them were looking forward to the additional Amiibo support, added controls and system power, plus the switchable faceplates in the original form factor. Last February, Nintendo was not very forthcoming as to why the model was missing North America other than the division thought this was the correct decision for the market. The rationale as far as we can discern was that it was felt there was so little difference between the New 3DS and New 3DS XL other than screen size that it made more sense to concentrate on releasing one model as a better vehicle to boost the owner base. There was also the sales data out of Japan the previous October that showed the larger screened 3DS was outselling its smaller sibling by more than two to one. Finally, going with the 3DS XL gave Nintendo a portable standard bearer at a higher price point. Even now, the standard New 3DS is not arriving at a MSRP under the XL. There is a significant amount of value in the bundle, but not at a price that will appeal to the cash-strapped. So we see the arrival of the New 3DS to North America as an olive branch to core gamers wrapped in a special edition package. The SKU may find some traction with mainstream consumers looking to purchase the latest Animal Crossing game, yet we see core gamers as the real target.