With the launch of Switch — a device that combines a home console with a portable tablet — you might think that Nintendo would be moving on from the 3DS line of handhelds. But that doesn’t appear to be the case. Just last night, Nintendo announced the New 2DS XL, a $149.99 device that sits between the budget-focused 2DS and the more robust New 3DS XL. And according to Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aimé, the company will continue to focus on the platform for the foreseeable future. “We believe this is a key addition to the line,” he says of the 2DS XL, calling the handheld line “a very important platform. It’s something that we’re going to continue to drive this year [and] next year.”
The reasons are fairly obvious. Over its lifetime the Nintendo 3DS line has sold more than 66 million units, including 7 million last year. Nintendo predicts it will sell another 6 million in 2017, compared to 10 million for the much newer Switch. One important question, though, is whether or not the 3DS line will continue to receive big new games in the wake of the Switch launch. When you can play a game like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the go with Switch, is there still an incentive to create portable-exclusive experiences like A Link Between Worlds? Currently, the 3DS has a handful of new titles coming, including Hey! Pikmin and Miitopia, which launch alongside the New Nintendo 2DS XL in July. But no big-name titles — like a new Mario Kart or Super Mario — have been announced.
“We’re going to continue to have great games leveraging all of our great franchises,” Fils-Aimé says of the 3DS’s future. “Just like Nintendo Switch is going to have its own development pace and its own set of experiences. Clearly there’s a processing power difference between the different systems. You couldn’t have an experience like Breath of the Wild on the 3DS family. But on the other hand, with the two screens, with the 3D capability, there are experiences that we will create for the 3DS family that you can’t have on Nintendo Switch. By continuing to do that, we’ll drive the install base of both systems, and continue to drive the overall Nintendo business. That’s our thinking.”
On the hardware side, the 3DS line — along with most Nintendo handhelds — has been home to multiple refreshes and refinements over the years. The New 3DS XL added more power and a bigger screen, while the original 2DS slashed the price and introduced a new wedge design while removing the glasses-free stereoscopic 3D feature. It’s unclear, however, if the latest iteration of the handheld will be the last. “Our focus is on making sure this launch goes well,” says Fils-Aimé, “and what the future holds, we’ll see.”