Nintendo of Europe has stopped production on the New Nintendo 3DS. (Yes, that is the product's official name: "New Nintendo 3DS.") The company plans to continue making other members of the 3DS lineup, including the upcoming New Nintendo 2DS XL, but this could be a sign of a shifting focus to the Switch.
Nintendo has effectively owned the handheld gaming market for the last few years. Sony hasn't released a followup to the PlayStation Vita that debuted in 2011, which means the Nintendo 3DS lineup hasn't really faced any competition for a while. Nintendo has capitalized on that opportunity with several models: the Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo 3DS XL, Nintendo 2DS, New Nintendo 3DS, New Nintendo 3DS XL, and New Nintendo 2DS XL.
Now, the New Nintendo 3DS appears to be going the way of the dinosaur. GameSpot reported that production is halting worldwide, which Nintendo of Europe confirmed. We asked Nintendo about plans for the New Nintendo 3DS in North America and received the following statement in response:
“This announcement does not affect Nintendo of America territories, as the model in question was only sold in limited quantities as special offerings. There are no changes to the sales status of New Nintendo 3DS XL, Nintendo 2DS or the upcoming New Nintendo 2DS XL, which launches on July 28.”
The company declined to comment on why New Nintendo 3DS production is ending. Nintendo may simply have wanted to avoid even more confusion for the New Nintendo 2DS XL--the average person might not draw the distinction from the new (lowercase) handheld and the New (uppercase) Nintendo 2DS XL. But there's also a chance that the company wants to free up resources so it can ramp up production on the Switch.
The Switch has been sold out at many retailers since its March debut. Nintendo has repeatedly said it plans to increase its output of the console in response to consumer demand, but according to The Wall Street Journal, the company has to compete with Apple and other smartphone manufacturers for NAND flash. No NAND means no Switch, which means a lot of unhappy people who can't get their hands on the device.
That doesn't come as much of a surprise--we're currently in the midst of the worst NAND shortage in history. Even Samsung, which has its own fabs, has delayed products because of the shortage. Other companies must be fighting over scraps, then. Perhaps ending the New Nintendo 3DS' production could help free up just a little bit of NAND for the Switch, which costs more and is more widely available than its handheld-only counterpart.
Besides the statement we shared above, Nintendo wouldn't comment on what this move means for the Nintendo 3DS lineup nor the Switch.