Some time ago in an earlier blog, when the Nintendo 3DS was in development but had not yet hit the market, I expressed an opinion that the 3DS would not be successful because it was not in line with the Nintendo brand; based on the recent Nintendo sales figures and an impending price drop on the 3DS, it appears that I was correct.
This past generation of consoles was a big one for Nintendo. The Wii once dominated the console industry and the DS clearly dominated the PSP. Nintendo was making the right moves and were creating a brand of “group fun” and “active gaming”. Then the lure of 3D reared its head in the TV market and Nintendo was pulled in.
The problem with 3D is that often it is 3D for the sake of 3D. The medium became the message. When this happens, value is inherently lost and the message instead is only about the medium, which many players can own.
The DS worked because the games were fun, easy to jump in and out of on the go and the system benefitted from the brand equity the Wii was helping to drive.
The 3DS on the other hand changed little from its predecessor less its addition of 3D, a technology that required Nintendo to add disclaimers regarding eyestrain and potential damage to eyesight (especially in young children).
With news of the Wii successor stifling sales of the Wii and the 3DS taking such a hit on sales that the price was being dropped from $249.99 to $169.99, Nintendo must now focus less on technological additions to products. It must salvage the connectedness of the 3DS to the emotional equity of its brand. The Wii and the DS both proved that it is not graphics or processors that drive unit sales, but rather an image and emotion that a brand represents. Nintendo must not forget that.