As Nintendo readies to launch the 3DS handheld, the Kyoto-based Mario
house will once again find itself in a situation where it has to support three different platforms: the Wii, the previous DS and early 2011's 3DS.
And while the six-year-old original DS platform's growth is hitting a plateau, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata said in a recent briefing
, "We have no plans to immediately cease any activities for Nintendo DS."
He explained, "We have experienced several transitions from one platform to a new generation in the past, but the speed at which such transitions were made greatly varied in different markets." The executive said that he thinks Japan is the quickest to shift to new platforms, as is the UK, while Germany is slower in such transitions.
He added, "In the U.S., so many people respond to new platforms quickly, but as for the entire video game market there, it appears to move rather slowly because there are also so many people who respond to new offers very slowly."
"The U.S. is a big market with such dual natures," Iwata continued. "Given the difference in the speeds at which each market shifts to a new platform, how Nintendo should spend what amount of energy in order to launch and market many new Nintendo DS software titles must be slightly different from market to market."
The Nintendo DS, launched in late 2004, has sold over 135 million units worldwide, making it a difficult platform to immediately ignore, despite its age. "…Naturally, it is desirable for us to be able to make some new offers to those who already own Nintendo DS," Iwata said.
Nintendo said that it will launch the 3D stereoscopic 3DS in late February 2011 in Japan, and in the West before the end of the company's fiscal year in March 2011. The company forecast sales of 4 million 3DS hardware units worldwide in February and March next year.
While he concedes that the Nintendo DS will remain relevant in the immediate future, Iwata added, "On the other hand, if we should use too many of our development resources in order to maintain the Nintendo DS market, we would not be able to realize a sound launch for Nintendo 3DS."
Iwata also acknowledged that 3DS would likely lose out on potential 3DS consumers, as the device is missing a holiday 2010 launch. "Because we will launch Nintendo 3DS in a period other than the peak sales season, not many of those who are willing to buy due to seasonality will participate in those initial purchases [of 3DS hardware and software]," said Iwata.
But he added that after the holiday rush, the company will still be able to communicate with consumers about the new hardware through marketing that could trigger more interest in the device. "I believe we can approach different consumers in different ways," he said.