Nintendo is clearly going full steam ahead with its handheld gaming business in announcing the Feb. 13 official U.S. release date for the handheld 3DS XL.
But is this strategy enough to keep Nintendo afloat? Can Nintendo rely on handheld games despite the mobile phone revolution?
The Nintendo 3DS XL is expected to be more powerful than the original version of the handset, meaning that developers can create better, more intense games with better graphics and gameplay. Not only that, but it also includes features such as face-tracking and 3D replication without the need for 3D glasses.
Unfortunately for Nintendo, handheld consoles such as these are appealing to a smaller and smaller group of people, especially as mobile phones continue to get better. If handheld gaming was the only thing that Nintendo was doing, the company would be in big trouble.
Against all odds, however, Nintendo's Amiibos are selling like hotcakes. Amiibos are essentially NFC-capable figurines that give players extra characters and capabilities in the games they play. Nintendo has sold millions of these interactive figures, with them becoming a collectors item, suggesting that they could become a very important product for Nintendo.
Nintendo's Wii U console is largely considered a failure. Sales are far less than the company's expectations, putting a lot of pressure on the company to sell the 3DS and the newer 3DS XL.
The DS series continues, however, to be Nintendo's only handheld product. The company has refused to release games to mobile platforms such as iOS and Android, which could potentially earn it a lot of money. Not only that, but Nintendo's income is largely limited to its popular franchises such as Pokemon, Mario and The Legend of Zelda. The company largely believes that gaming on smartphones and tablets is for those who might want to play a game or two on the go, but handheld devices such as the 3DS and 3DS XL are for those who are into playing real games.
Can the release of the 3DS XL keep the company going? Obviously not alone. If the company were to drop everything else and focus solely on selling the 3DS XL, it wouldn't be around for much longer. Combined with things like the Amiibo and the Wii U, however, the company perhaps has a shot.
The Amiibo sales show that the company is willing to think of new ways to make money, and it is likely that products like these will help drive sales of things like the 3DS XL.