While certainly not a definite indicator of long-term international success, the first year’s worth of performance for gaming hardware in Japan is definitely a decent gauge of said device’s potential. If that gauge is a good predictor of what’s to come, this is tremendous news for both Nintendo and the Nintendo 3DS.
As Andriasang has it from Nintendo, the Nintendo 3DS broke the five million units sold mark quicker than any other gaming system in Japanese sales history. The system crossed that mark in 52 weeks. The previous bests, both Nintendo devices, were the Game Boy Advance at 58 weeks and the Nintendo DS at 52 weeks.
What’s most impressive from where I’m standing is that Nintendo produced these sales after an abysmal launch period. The Nintendo 3DS released with a price point set too high and a roster of software that was, quite honestly, lame. As such, the system performed poorly in terms of sales. Nintendo took that poor performance, adjusted the price of the hardware and released some of their staple franchises and…voila, the Nintendo 3DS sets sales records for the company.
What’s frustrating for a gaming writer like me is that naysayers will still claim “doom” and “death” for both the 3DS and the portable gaming hardware sector of the industry. Folks have already labelled the PS Vita a futile effort, and it hasn’t even had a chance at the international market yet.
What Nintendo is proving with the 3DS, and even Sony has admitted this, is that there is room in the market for a dedicated gaming portable. In the face of smartphones with a surplus of cheap and free games, gaming hardware is performing better than it has before.
Maybe there’s something to the notion that, no matter how inexpensive or how many, great gaming is hard to achieve on non-gaming devices.