Nintendo's latest financial results reveal that sales for the first ever 3D gaming system have been underwhelming at best.
The 3.61 million 3DS consoles sold since February fell short of Nintendo's expectation of at least four million, even after getting off to a great start.
Nintendo 3DS was launched in late March. The sales were high in the initial week, but sales fell below our expectations after the second week. Nintendo 3DS has not been selling as expected since the second week, and this is not just in the Japanese market but also in the United States and Europe, where no direct impact from the great earthquake has occurred, Nintendo chief executive Satoru Iwata said to investors at a recent meeting.
While Iwata did not give specific reasons why the console hasn't done as well as Nintendo had predicted, he voiced a few hypotheses. One is that consumers have yet to fully understand the console's capabilities, even when trying it out.
The value of 3D images without the need for special glasses is hard to be understood through the existing media. However, we have found that people cannot feel it just by trying out a device, rather, some might even misestimate it when experiencing the images in an improper fashion, Iwata said.
He also said Nintendo had to enhance the contents which can be enjoyed passively by non-active users -- by which he means the non 3D part of the console. He also said certain features for the 3DS - StreetPass, SpotPass, Augmented Reality and Mii Maker -- weren't being fully appreciated by the consumers.
It is now clear that the combination of these new features is not necessarily easy-to-understand by just saying one word to those without experience, Itawa said.
Itawa also said the addition of new games, such as Mario 3D and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, would boost the console's appeal. There was no mention of Nintendo 3DS' price, which is at $250, way more than any handheld console available.
Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said the 3DS' failure likely has to do with the price, combined with the lack of enticing software. I've asked a lot of hardcore gamers if they will buy it, and they all said, they will once there is more software. There is good software, but it's not enough, especially at the $250 price point. If it was 150 bucks, it would be sold out, Pachter said. He said the lack of big time Nintendo franchises has hurt it.
Nintendo promised it would also step up its marketing game. Iwata said the company would promote the console more in the coming weeks. In an attempt to draw interest in the 3DS, and to get existing users to update their units, Iwata promised a free 3D version of the old NES game, ExciteBike.