This is a strange one. Yesterday, Nintendo announced the launch of a new handheld console, the Nintendo 2DS XL. It follows a series of highly successful handheld consoles by Nintendo stretching all the way back to the GameBoy in 1989. The news comes as a little bit of a shock and has left many people scratching their heads.
Who is the 2DS XL for?
This is what most people can’t seem to figure out. We have had the DS, 2DS, 3DS, 3DS XL and we can see the progression but now it feels like a little step back to me. All 3DS games will be compatible with the new system just without the 3D functionality. It does have a few new features that the 3DS XL doesn’t have. For example it has 2 new trigger buttons as well as what Nintendo are calling the ‘C-Stick’ for enhanced controls.
In terms of pricing it will also be cheaper than the 3DS XL with prices starting around $149.99 (No UK pricing as of yet) so you could argue that it would be better for anyone who doesn’t already have a handheld device to go for the 2DS XL.
The Rant (feel free to click off at this point as I’m getting on my soapbox here)
The frustrating part for me though, and this is becoming increasingly common, is that the 2DS XL is a business decision and not a gaming-based decision. There will have been a bunch of suits in a room with graphs that only concentrated on the current bank balance and previous sales figures. I get that, I really do understand the need for business in the video game industry as without it there wouldn’t be any games in the first place but it’s getting too business focused. It’s all about reacting to please shareholders in the short term, rather than innovating and inventing in the long term.
The 2DS XL has probably been in development for a couple of years or so. That is two years where the incredibly talented software and hardware engineers could have been given licence to create something ground-breaking. Instead resources were being utilised to ensure that all of the business stakeholders are kept smiling all the way to the bank but this is a bigger issue. We have seen giant businesses in the past suffer because they focused more on pleasing the money men than keeping a keen eye on their products.
Think about what would happen if, next week, Sony and Microsoft announce that they’re launching new handheld consoles that absolutely destroy the 2DS XL? What would happen is that as soon as the announcement is made, Nintendo’s share price will fall. Less people will buy something that has been remade and will favour something brand new. Profits will drop at Nintendo and then it will be the guys in suits who then make another decision (they’d probably relaunch The Switch with a slightly bigger screen and a better battery). In the time it takes them to do that the next generation of consoles will be here and Nintendo will be more or less dead and buried.
They have to stop focusing solely on profits. As long as they aren’t making a loss each year let the innovators innovate and the money men will stay happy in the long term.