Nintendo 3DS Launch – A True Success

3 April, 2011 - 4:39 pm by
About 6 mins to read

Nintendo of Europe have now confirmed that the Nintendo 3DS is now the fastest selling Nintendo handheld device ever, selling over 303,000 units across all of Europe with over a third of those being sold in the United Kingdom – 113,000 units in just two days. That’s not far off from a console a second in the UK alone and across Europe it’s nearly 3 consoles for every second. This is a staggering figure for a system that is not only competing against itself, with Pokémon Black and White being released over the weekend, but also featuring new and challenging software.

Yet it would appear that the gaming press is belittling the console as there seems to be a distinct lack of buzz on surrounding the 3DS, even Twitter, the new barometer of gossip and public opinion, seems to be fairly quiet when it comes to the 3DS and the lack of stock shortages. If anything, we should be praising the 3DS for these “short-comings”. The fact that Twitter lacks any real buzz around the 3DS is likely to be because not everyone uses Twitter and if you’re playing on the 3DS, you’re not going to be on Twitter talking about how amazing it is. Not forgetting that Twitter is only that, Twitter. The short messages may be good to see whose song has just been murdered on X-Factor or whatever the next singing competition is called, but it’s not an effective way of measuring people’s onions to a sophisticated piece of hardware.

The next area of concern is the lack of stock shortages – this is actually the exact opposite of the Nintendo Wii, or even the Apple iPad 2. It’s very easy for a company to be ill-prepared for the success of a console, with the Wii, this was obvious. After the commercial failure of the Gamecube, Nintendo did not expect the Nintendo Wii to sell as well as it did, for the length of time that it did. It captured the public’s imagination and was not a slow burner – like the Nintendo DS. The iPad 2, it’s got plenty of stock shortages, it’s practically sold out everywhere. Just like the iPad before it, the iPhone 4 before that, the 3GS, 3, 2 and basically any other Apple product that has the hype machine behind it.

According to Apple in the USA, roughly 500,000 to a million units were sold over the opening weekend – but Apple also knew that far more people wanted the product. So rather than organising stock ahead of time and ensuring that there would be roughly enough product to go around, they’ve managed to create stock shortages by not anticipating user demand appropriately – or by ignoring user demand they are filling up the column inches with free press regarding their latest product.

What Nintendo have managed to do is very different and is actually a far better idea. Appropriately stocking stores in the UK to maximise on all sales opportunities is the very best thing any company can do. It’s prevented profiting from unscrupulous individuals by selling 3DS’ on Ebay for three times the price. It’s also meant that consumers who wanted a 3DS are not disappointed and at the same time has maximised every sales chance for Nintendo. In this stagnating economy, where a litre of petrol costs more than 500 ml of water, or in old money, is about £5 a gallon, people spending their hard earned cash on a console is amazing. The fact that it’s sold as much as it has and yet there’s still more to go around is even better.

Staged product shortages is the sign of lack of preparation, or even worse, a company that needs hype to sell a product. The 3DS has sold brilliant considering the economy, the fact that it’s a new system competing with itself and ultimately it will be a slower burner like the DS before it. Many people consider 3D to simply be hype and unnecessary features, just like they did with the touch screen of the DS. But over time these features have become a staple and it won’t be long before the 3DS is the next prominent Nintendo handheld.

To put this into a real world example, if you walked into a pub on a Friday or Saturday night to find that the pub had no beer left, even though it was a bank holiday weekend, Oktoberfest or some other significant event throughout the year, you’d be surprised. No company on earth would prevent a pub from having their stock of beer, food and cigarettes, but it makes sense for an electronic company to do so. This is obviously what Nintendo have thought and provided the user with what they need.

At the time of writing sales figures on the games have not been released; however, on average there will be at least 1 or 2 games sold per unit. Based on the fact that a lot of 3DS bundles have multiple games in it, and that you need at least one game to play the system. If we look at 2 games per unit sold, that 606,000 games across Europe and just over 230,000 in the UK alone. Therefore the situation is clear – there’s not a lack of buzz or little faith in the console. The exact reverse, gamers are buying the 3DS by the bucket load but simply put, Nintendo are providing gamers with what they want without creating a false hype.