The Nintendo Switch launched March 3 and took the Wii U out back and buried it. That doesn’t mean a similar fate is coming to the 3DS.
Back when the Switch was known by its codename NX, Nintendo said the console would coexist with the Wii U and 3DS.
Reports began to surface that the Wii U had been discontinued before Nintendo said the console would work alongside with the current ones. Nikkei, a Japanese newspaper, reported companies that make Wii U parts had stopped production on said parts. A Nintendo spokesperson jumped in front of these rumors and denied them to IT Media, another Japanese news website. Kotaku translated the article.
“This isn’t an announcement from our company.” The spokesperson added, “From the next quarter and thereafter as well, production [of the Wii U] is scheduled to continue.”
Fast forward to November 2016, Nintendo announced production the Wii U is ending.
Nintendo of America confirmed it to Kotaku.
“We can confirm that as of today, all Wii U hardware that will be made available in the North American market for this fiscal year has already been shipped to our retail partners. We encourage anyone who wants Wii U to communicate with their preferred retail outlet to monitor availability.”
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the last first-party title to be developed for the Wii U.
What does all this mean for the 3DS?
Nintendo, like they did with the Wii U, says the 3DS will not be replaced but will instead work with the Switch. One of the main draws to the Switch is its portability, which is the same feature the 3DS is noted for. It’s easy to look at the Switch and start thinking about the demise of the 3DS but wait just a moment.
Unlike the Wii U, the 3DS still has games in development for it. Some of these are the heavy hitters for Nintendo like Pikmin, Mario and Fire Emblem.
Earlier this year, Nintendo rolled out a plan showing what the 3DS has in store for 2017.
Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of America, told Wired in an interview the 3DS has long life ahead of it.
3DS has a long life in front of it. We’ve already announced games that will be launching in the first couple quarters of this year. There are a number of big games coming. And in our view, the Nintendo 3DS and the Nintendo Switch are going to live side-by-side. You’re going to be meeting different price points, you’re going to be meeting different types of consumers, you’re going to have the newest, freshest content available on Nintendo Switch, you’ve got a thousand-game library available on Nintendo 3DS, plus some key new ones coming. They’re going to coexist just fine. We’ve done this before, managing two different systems.
I think there’s a sense that Nintendo Switch is a portable device. It is portable. But at its heart, it’s a home console that you can take with you on the go.
With this many games in development, it seems unlikely Nintendo will just close up shop on the 3DS. Keep in mind, the 3DS has sold over 65 million units compared to just over 13 million for the Wii U. There’s still an audience for the 3DS and analysts are predicting a slow launch for the Switch according to Forbes.
It makes sense for Nintendo to keep the 3DS alive for now since more users have it already but as the Switch sales pick up, who knows where Nintendo will take the 3DS. It might end up in the graveyard with the Wii U.
As for right now, the 3DS is alive.