Nintendo recently held its usual Corporate Management Policy Briefing, a meeting where the company’s leaders and frontrunners in gaming development come together to discuss products and the state of the company in general. Quite a few topics were brought up during the Q&A portion of the briefing, one of which touched base (yet again) on the coexistence between the Switch and the 3DS.

Ever since the Switch was announced back in October 2016, fans have wondered whether or not the Switch will end up replacing the 3DS as Nintendo’s primary handheld due to the Switch’s dual functionality as both a home console and a portable device. Time and time again, company representatives, like Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aimé, have come forward to confirm that the 3DS will remain to be the company’s main handheld. He went on to say that while the Switch provides a portable option for players, it was intended to always serve people primarily as a home console.

In this latest meeting, we heard from other important representatives within Nintendo. When asked how Nintendo plans to allow the Switch and 3DS to coexist, Nintendo President Kimishima provided an answer that doesn’t stray too far from what we already know– yet from a slightly different angle.

As for your question on the Nintendo 3DS, we believe it can coexist with Nintendo Switch for the time being. Nintendo 3DS is a different system from Nintendo Switch in terms of its shape, weight, price and the types and number of available software titles. From this perspective, I believe parents will opt to choose Nintendo 3DS as their childrenʼs first video game system. So we recognize that Nintendo 3DS as a portable game device meets different needs and fits different markets than Nintendo Switch, and we will keep this recognition in mind as we consider the future of our dedicated portable video game business.

One aspect I hadn’t quite considered as an avid handheld (adult) gamer was the appeal of the Switch to parents of younger children who have their hearts set on gaming. A couple factors need to be considered here. For one, when given the option to purchase a system that ranges from $99-199 or a system whose price sits firmly at $299, it’s likely that the parent will opt for the less expensive product.

Another factor to consider is the durability, and therefore usability, of a system. Simplicity in design is key when it comes to technical devices for children, which I believe makes the 3DS/2DS a much more likely candidate. The handheld is personal, portable and durable (due to the protectiveness of the clamshell design), offering children an uncomplicated experience when it comes to taking video games on the go with them. The Switch, on the other hand, has been marketed in a way that emphasizes play time with both larger groups of people and individuals. The system, as simple as it is to use for adults, is composed of multiple components: the dock, a tablet, two Joy-Cons, and if you so choose to own one, a Pro Controller. When you really think about it, the easy pick-up-and-go use of a 3DS is much more likely to suit a child over the more complicated setup of the Switch. Nintendo’s aim has always been to serve families and individuals, which makes the coexistence of the Switch and the 3DS more of a likelihood– at least, until the Big N evolves the 3DS into the next gen handheld.

Speaking of the next gen, a followup question addressed the future of handheld gaming: “And, if the users start recognizing Nintendo Switch as a portable gaming device and using it as such, will it make sense for the company to release a next-generation portable game device?”

General Manager of Entertainment Planning Shinya Takahashi answered this with the following statement:

We have been developing new software titles for Nintendo 3DS, so please look forward to them. As for your question about a next-generation portable game system, because Nintendo never stops thinking about and researching potential future video game systems, it is not a question of whether it may make sense to release some specific product in the future. We are always engaged in researching and considering our next video game system.

While it’s nice to hear new titles are on the way for the 3DS, the statement doesn’t contain any new and exciting information about the future of the handheld. If anything, it makes me question how Nintendo’s foray into mobile gaming will affect the 3DS, or even a predecessor, in the long run. With the company branching out into new terrain this last year through apps like Miitomo, Super Mario Run and Fire Emblem Heroes, fans both young and old have the ability to game wherever they go with devices they already own. Shelling out extra money for separate handhelds may seem unnecessary as more titles become available over time.

Honestly though, only time will tell. Until then, we have to take Nintendo’s reassurances about the 3DS with a grain of salt.


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Written by Lauren Ganos
Creative Director, Managing Editor

Designer and writer by day, gamer by night, Lauren dreams big when it comes to creative endeavors. Perhaps that's why she's taken on the roles of creative director and managing editor for Nintendo Wire. If she had a video game superhero alias, it might just be The Visionary, a true keeper of imaginative order.

Lauren Ganos