Nintendo continued two of its favorite trends--incremental hardware updates and inscrutable branding decisions--with the New Nintendo 2DS XL. The portable system is a successor to the wedge-shaped Nintendo 2DS, introduced as a budget option for people who want to play Nintendo 3DS games without paying for stereoscopic 3D support. Now it's been redesigned with a clamshell form factor, larger screens, and a black-and-blue color scheme.
This product line has always been a little strange. It started with the Nintendo 3DS, expanded with the Nintendo 3DS XL, jumped to the Nintendo 2DS, moved on to the New Nintendo 3DS and New Nintendo 3DS XL, and has now added the New Nintendo 2DS XL. Remember when Nintendo's handhelds were clearly named (GameBoy, GameBoy Pocket, GameBoy Color, GameBoy Advance) and didn't sound like a word jumble? Neither do we.
On to the New Nintendo 2DS XL. Here's what Nintendo said about the product in its announcement:
The new system will be available in a stylish black/turquoise color, and will use the same size large screen found on New Nintendo 3DS XL systems. As the name of the new system implies, visuals will be displayed in 2D only. The system is lighter but still packs the same power as New Nintendo 3DS XL, and has built-in NFC support for amiibo cards and figures.
The company has also updated the Nintendo 2DS website with more information about this latest upgrade. It also said that more than 1,000 games are available for the new handheld, although it's not clear if that figure also includes Nintendo DS games, with which these handhelds are backwards compatible. (Again, remember when it was easy to figure out what someone meant whenever they said a Nintendo console's name?)
The New Nintendo 2DS XL's announcement comes at a strange time for Nintendo. The company recently said that the Nintendo Switch was the fastest-selling console in its North American history, and later revealed that it's sold 2.74 million units worldwide. The Switch's main appeal is its ability to serve as both a home console and a handheld gaming device--yet it has to share the latter market with the entire Nintendo 3DS product line.
That makes sense given the Nintendo 3DS' success; Nintendo said on its website that's it's sold more than 58.85 million units of that product family worldwide. The company doesn't seem to be in any rush to bolster the Switch by moving past the Nintendo 3DS, and with the announcement of the New Nintendo 2DS XL, it's clear that this approach isn't restricted to releasing new games for all the Nintendo 3DS handhelds people already own.
The New Nintendo 2DS XL will cost $150 when it debuts in the U.S. on July 28.
It's not just you. I don't get why people seem to think the Switch is going to replace the DS line. The portability of the Switch is very limited compared to the DS, and even the general consumer is smart enough to see that. These die hard Nintendo fans seem to think they can just expect everyone to shove a Switch in their pocket and dash out the door.
Then there are things like design and price point. Unless Nintendo releases a clamshell Switch with recessed buttons and smaller form factor, and a lower price point, the DS is here to stay.
They are now. The thing is, it's likely Nintendo won't design a true successor to the DS line, but rather will design a smaller Switch sometime. It makes more sense for them not to have to develop games for two different platforms, but rather just one platform that can accommodate different experiences.
Now they're releasing a console that lets you play every 3DS game, but without stereoscopic 3D support. In the future, they might release a console that lets you play every Switch game, but without TV and/or motion controllers support.
Anyway, I already have a New 3DS XL and a Switch, but if I didn't have the 3DS, I'd still be interested in the New 2DS. The Switch is great, but its library is very limited right now, while the 2DS has a huge library of games that you simply cannot play on any other (non-3DS) platform.
I don't know about that. It's like saying it doesn't make sense for devs to make games for PC and consoles. It makes perfect sense, you tap into more markets and sell more things you otherwise wouldn't. And considering that by now Nintendo's handheld platform is so mature and well-controlled and well-established, it doesn't cost Nintendo much of anything to maintain that.
The big thing to remember is that Nintendo makes all its business decisions based on the Japanese market, and then puzzles the rest of the world when those decisions don't make perfect sense everywhere else. That's why the Switch is partly portable: console sales are tanking in Japan because not enough people have time for home gaming. Most gaming is done during commutes and on-the-go. That's why handhelds are HUGE in Japan, much more so than any other part of the world.
So if anything, the Switch isn't an attempt to make handhelds redundant, but rather an attempt to make consoles redundant. But again, two different experiences. High-power single-screen gaming versus low-power dual-screen gaming. The Switch is just semi-portable so that they could reach those Japanese console gamers that stopped buying consoles because they aged into a lifestyle where there isn't time to play games at home.
No, it's not. It's like saying it doesn't make sense for devs to make games for just one console. When you talk about AAA games, it doesn't. AAA games are only restricted to one console when the console's owner pays for the exclusive. Otherwise, the more platforms you publish the game for, the more money you make. 3DS and Switch are such different platforms that you cannot make a single game for both; you have to make two different games. Developing two games is more expensive than developing just one, so neither Nintendo nor anyone else want to do that if it's not necessary. If the 3DS doesn't get a successor, it won't be necessary.
The dual-sceen gimmick isn't important anymore, just like the stereoscopic 3D one. What today is considered high-power will be considered low-power in two years, at most. The New 3DS/2DS is overwhelmingly under-powered today. It's by far the least powerful gaming platform on the planet, far behind mobile phones. No developer wants to work with such restrictions, unless there's a lot of money to be made. It doesn't make sense to start developing a 3DS game now. It's much better to start developing a Switch one. You have at your disposal more power and better tools (Unreal Engine 4). You can target less console owners, but the Switch is going to sell more and more, and in two years a small low-power completely-portable Switch will be feasible.
The only explaination that makes sense to me is some Nintendo executive deliberately wants this to perform poorly, so they can more easily justify shutting down DS development.
If you truly want to finally "get in" on that hot DS action, the old models can be easily found for substantially less than $150.