With the release of the Nintendo Switch in 2017, a looming question has remained: is the 3DS still relevant? With the Switch acting as both a home console and handheld, some have wondered if the 3DS serves any point. Nintendo has said again and again however, that it still plans to release games for the console. This appears to still be the case, despite declining sales.
In a recent Q&A financial briefing, Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa commented on the downward sales of the 3DS. He says that the 3DS still remains a popular choice for its size, and price point for parents looking to purchase a video game console for their children.
Furukawa: "While the Nintendo 3DS market has contracted faster than we anticipated, currently many of consumers who newly purchase Nintendo 3DS are consumers purchasing Nintendo 3DS as their first game system.
"Demand still remains from parents looking to purchase a first game system for their children. That is why our basic policy is to proceed with both Nintendo Switch and Nintendo 3DS in our dedicated video game platform business."
According to Nintendo's December 2018 fiscal report, 3DS hardware sales were down over 60%. While that may sound disheartening, it's important to remember that the 3DS is almost a decade old. The 3DS launched in 2011, making it an eight year old system. Although sales were initially low, they greatly improved, making the console a best seller. Statista lists a handy chart showing sales from 2011 to 2018. With all this, it's certainly interesting that Nintendo is still looking to support the console.
Software for the 3DS has become more limited with the release of the Switch. This year so far has nothing hugely notable announced. There's Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story + Bowser Jr.'s Journey, which was released last month. There's also Kirby's Extra Epic Yarn (which is another port). There's Yo-kai Watch 3 and Etrian Odyssey Nexus, both of which released recently. Thus, there's pretty much nothing confirmed on the horizon. The last notably huge 3DS titles were the well-received Metroid: Samus Returns, and Pokémon: Ultra Sun/Moon, both of which released in 2017. There was also the Luigi's Mansion port in 2018, as well as WarioWare Gold. But as one can see, it's hard to find too many big 3DS releases in the last couple of years.
Nintendo could keep re-releasing classic games on the console. Many would jump at the chance to play Super Mario Sunshine on 3DS, or Star Fox Adventures. Time will tell if Nintendo plans to simply keep the 3DS afloat, or actually release anticipated titles on par with Switch games. If 3DS sales keep declining, it will be interesting to see if these next few years will be the console's last hurrah.