Less than half a year after the (failed) launch of the 3DS, there are rumblings from Nintendo about a rather drastic hardware redesign: the much-ballyhooed but ultimately pointless 3D screen is going to be either nerfed or nixed altogether, and the system will pick up a much-needed second analog stick.
Rumors? I wouldn’t have put any stock in them three months ago. But now that Nintendo has slashed the 3DS’s price in response to its dismal sales figures, it’s safe to say that the company has gone into damage control mode. Regardless of the enthusiastic response it received at E3 2010, the 3DS has crashed and burned spectacularly: its $250 price point scared away consumers, almost all of its big-name titles are ports of games available on other platforms, and its online functionality is hampered by Nintendo’s wag-the-dog attitude towards parental controls. It’s even region locked. The whole system seems like Murphy’s Law personified.
At any rate, the source of these rumors is reputable: they actually found out about the Wii U’s tablet controller before Nintendo unveiled it themselves at E3 2011. Which puts me in an odd place. I’d been planning to get a 3DS after the price cut, but now, I’m finding myself siding with all the other people who said “nah, I’m gonna wait for them to release the next hardware revision.” Used to be, my reaction was “but that could be two or three years down the road!” Oh, how naive I was. In all likelihood, it’s happening next year.
Though if Nintendo thinks it can solve all its 3DS woes with just a new hardware version, they’re more delusional than I give them credit for. If they try to use this as an excuse to go back to the $250 price tag, they’re shooting themselves in the foot unless they can give us something we’re really willing to pay extra for. Getting rid of Friend Codes and the region lock would be a good place to start…