It’s common knowledge now; the Wii U is being phased out and replaced by the Nintendo NX. Yes, it’s coming in March 2017. Yes the Wii U is likely being discontinued the year after. We know it’s coming and that the ninth generation of video game consoles has nearly begun.
But while everyone knows about the Wii U’s successor, that still leaves one obvious question. One that’s been bugging me for quite a while now…
Namely, what’s going to succeed the Nintendo 3DS?
Because let’s face it, by all rights, the 3DS should be getting a successor. It’s been out longer than the Wii U and has at least matched the lifespan of the Game Boy Advance. It’s gotten almost all its major games already (Mario Kart 7, Zelda A Link Between Worlds, Pokemon X/Y) and a whole ton of unexpected surprises (Luigi’s Mansion 2, Majora’s Mask 3D). And both sales and third party support have been at a low point in recent years, with the latter being virtually non existent from companies outside of Japan.
So, where is it?
Where’s the next generation of Nintendo handheld system?
Is it the Nintendo NX? That sounds unlikely, especially with the level of power hinted at by the leaks and rumours. A console with higher specs than the Playstation 4 probably won’t be very portable. And that rumour about a future GamePad acting like a remote play device has been rather thoroughly debunked by this point.
Has Nintendo outright given up on portable systems? That’s another possibility, given how much smartphones seem to be cannibalising their market and how a lot more focus seems to be going to smartphone apps now. But Nintendo makes money on hardware as well as software, and a 200 quid handheld games system with 50 quid games makes a lot more money than no new hardware and free/cheap mobile apps.
Above: Especially if they can sell people multiple versions of the same system.
Are Nintendo planning to keep the system going, even as the Wii U gets a successor? Well, that’s certainly possible. There are major 3DS games in development right now, and some of those haven’t yet been announced by Nintendo. But how much longer can the system survive on odd Nintendo spinoffs, Pokemon and eShop titles? Nintendo’s highest sellers have already been released on the system, and it’s unlikely they’ll get sequels on the exact same system. Mario Kart 9 or 10 will probably not be heading to the 3DS any time soon.
Above: This is not exactly going to send 3DS systems flying off store shelves…
So just what is going on here? Where is the Nintendo 3DS’ successor, given that the Wii U is getting its own? And how much longer can the 3DS hold out before Nintendo moves onto greener pastures?