Nintendo 3DS Doomed Like PSPgo?

By Colin Tan on August 4, 2011, 4:32PM EDT

The Nintendo 3DS has been a hot topic as of late, thanks to a massive price cut not even six months into the handheld's release. The device enjoyed one of the biggest first day sales in Nintendo history, at least in the US, but since then momentum has slowed down a lot with the PSP maintaining top position in hardware charts on a weekly basis. It's not farfetched to draw a comparison to the PSPgo, but will the 3DS follow the same road paved by Sony's failure of a handheld or will it make a dent in the handheld market?

The PSPgo released in October 2009, although not with much hype mostly due to its incredibly high price point, especially when one considers the device doesn't do anything the PSP couldn't. In fact, it didn't even have a UMD drive, taking away any form of compatibility with any games a PSP owner might already own, forcing them to either cough up additional bills or stick to playing on the PSP. Sony's goal was clear: to make a shift to online digital distribution, but with lack of proper software support of any kind, the PSPgo simply didn't perform. The device would eventually enjoy a $50 price cut, but not soon enough as production discontinued early this year as Sony's focus switched to the PlayStation Vita.

As for the Nintendo 3DS, it was announced at E3 2010 to quite the reception, with many fans and handheld enthusiasts excited over the prospect of 3D without the eyewear, in the palm of their hands. It helped that Nintendo showcased quite a lot of tech demos, showing off what the device was capable of and proving rumours true that it was more powerful than the Wii, if not at least on par. Its software lineup impressed as well, with Kid Icarus debuting alongside demos of Metal Gear Solid 3D: Snake Eater and announcements of Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy, Assassin's Creed, Resident Evil, Super Street Fighter IV and a whole slew of 3D updates, including The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Starfox 64, Mario and whatnot.

Unfortunately, few of these anticipated titles were present at launch. The only one listed was Super Street Fighter IV 3D, the remaining lineup was less than impressive, not to mention costlier than the average DS game. The price point and lack of software support did little to convince many. Even in Japan, many claimed in a survey that they were awaiting a price cut before dropping any cash on the new device. Moreover, games like Mega Man Legends 3 and Assassin's Creed: Lost Legacy have dropped off the map, cancelled by their respective publishers. Meanwhile, Nintendo continues to release more 3D updates of decade-old games. Metal Gear Solid 3D: Snake Eater's been pushed back to 2012 and most other third party titles still fail to impress, or at least provide incentive for getting a 3DS.

But is the 3DS really doomed to stray down the same path of failure of the PSPgo? It certainly has had a rocky start and five months in, Nintendo's already cut the price by $80, a huge cut certain to turn some heads in more ways than one. On one hand, the early adopters are surely miffed for dropping $250 on a device that's now only two-thirds of the cost not even half a year after release; on the other hand, potential customers are sure to eat it up. Outside of Nintendo's own first party titles, there remains few games that invoke excitement and hype "“ much like the Wii. Not to mention, are consumers really willing to spend $40 on games like Puzzle Bobble and Steel Diver? Either game could retail for a fraction of the cost on the Apple or Android App Store.

Regardless, the price cut will certainly draw in a new crowd. With the upcoming holiday season over the horizon, Nintendo certainly have a chance to revitalize the 3DS with new releases and proper content (See: Kid Icarus, Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart, Starfox 64, etc). Even publishers are happy with the new price, considering hardware sales failed to meet expectations. With rival Sony unleashing the PSVita in early 2012 instead of year-end 2011, Nintendo's got the holiday season all to themselves. Hopefully they put it to good use, otherwise both early adopters and new users alike would've put down quite a bit of cash for a huge paper weight, just like the PSPgo.

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