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New 2DS a Tough Sell for Nintendo

Hey, at least it isn't called 3DS U.

Nintendo raised eyebrows Wednesday with its unexpected announcement of new 3DS hardware that removes the key feature it was designed around.

The console’s latest iteration plays all 3DS titles without the 3D. It’s called the 2DS, because of course it is — it’s by the same company whose idea of differentiating its other new brand from the outgoing one was adding a “U” to the name.

Nothing Nintendo does really surprises me anymore. The 2DS is par for the course: more business decisions I can’t wrap my head around. Once I realized it wasn’t a typo but actually a thing, I started trying to imagine the market it’s right for. I’ve been drawing a blank ever since.

In marketing, the 3DS's stereoscopic 3D feature is its USP, or Unique Selling Point. It’s the one thing the competition doesn’t offer and, supposedly, the reason to buy a 3DS instead of a PlayStation Vita or even a DSi.

Removing a USP is risky, but Nintendo apparently hopes to offset any negativity by reducing the price. Its insurance is the 3DS's other USP: the fact it's also the only handheld console that plays the latest first-party software. With the 2DS, Nintendo is offering prospective buyers who don’t care about or want 3D a chance to play new Mario games for $40 less than before.

How big is such a market? Potentially, it’s pretty big. I myself reacted to the original 3DS announcement with disdain. I wondered how Nintendo could possibly gamble its future with something I was so certain would only be a fad. But damned if I didn’t still want to play Mario Kart 7! So I bought one anyway, knowing I could always just disable the 3D if I didn’t like it. (Remember this; it will be important later.)

Let’s go back to the price. Nintendo’s pricing the past few years sounds more like an episode of The Price Is Right — with Nintendo guessing the value of its own products to win big — than a marketing strategy defined by a major company.

Initially $249.99, the 3DS was undisputedly overpriced at launch and (in)famously dropped to $169.99 less than six months later. Now Nintendo is speculating even the lower price tag is still a barrier to entry, but it’s unable to justify dropping the price any further. Thus, the 2DS is set to debut at $129.99.

The $40 (almost 25 percent) price cut is no doubt substantial. Is it enough to be the difference between buying and not? I’m not sure. I’m a deal hunter, but even a casual shopper with a little attentiveness and patience can already get a 3DS for $129.99. That’s exactly how much I paid for mine at Target, and it wasn’t even Black Friday.  The 3DS is often on sale or sold with a value-added promotion such as a gift card. For the slightly savvier buyer, the used market offers even better deals.

Remember my comment about disabling the 3D? That’s the first kicker: The 2DS already exists. It’s called a 3DS with the 3D slider turned all the way down, and it plays all the latest first-party software. The second kicker? It’s already entirely possible to get one for $129.99 or equivalent value.

That leaves only one rebuttal I can’t ignore. Other than price, the reason Nintendo has offered for why the 2DS exists is the fact it allows younger children to play the latest 3DS titles without risking exposure to the 3D feature, which is recommended only for ages 7 and up.

That works if your son is like me and only wants a 3DS to play Mario Kart 7. Chances are, however, that he also wants it because of the 3D feature Nintendo has told him is so awesome, and he's going to notice it's missing.

The other problem with the young children argument is the design of the 2DS itself. The fact it’s unattractive is irrelevant to a child, but the form should be important to a parent. Polygon writer Samit Sarkar praised the single-unit design for dropping the hinge because, he said, “anything with a hinge is much more susceptible to being snapped in half.” True enough, but personally I believe the unprotected screen and buttons are the bigger liabilities. I have kids, and I know they’d be pretty unlikely to break a hinge but almost certain to leave the thing on the floor where it could get stepped on, expose it to blunt force trauma, or possibly use it as a doorstop. (Get it? Because it’s a wedge.)

And if the parents of young children are buying, good luck navigating Nintendo’s sea of confusing nomenclature. The 2DS now shares retail space with the DSi, 3DS, and 3DS XL (and if you’re at GameStop, the original DS, DS Lite, and DSi XL as well). It’s enough to confuse me as a hardcore gamer and amateur game journalist, let alone the average parent or grandparent.

So Nintendo is set if it’s trying to appeal to parents who can’t wait for the regular 3DS to go on sale, can successfully identify it against products with similar name and design, and who are buying it for 5- and 6-year-old children who don’t want the main feature Nintendo has been advertising for the past two and a half years and are responsible enough with their toys to avoid breaking it.

The existence of the 2DS doesn’t offend me, and I don’t by any means think it’s going to spell ruin for Nintendo. I just simply wouldn’t buy one, either for myself or for my children, and I don’t understand why anyone else would want to either. Hopefully for Nintendo, I’m the exception.




08/31/2013 at 12:00 PM

It is actually the easiest sell of the holidays. I just dont think the author is thinking logically.


The 2ds is not meant to replace ANY 3ds. Its a budget model for kids whose parents are not buying the system because of the price and the 3d.


Analysts love it, stores are already getting buzz


"The $40 (almost 25 percent) price cut is no doubt substantial."

Oh yes it is. That is the difference between budget not even think about it price to something more


08/31/2013 at 12:01 PM

"I believe the unprotected screen and buttons are the bigger liabilities. "

Nope/. Nobody cared with gameboy, gameboy color or gba. Its not a big deal in fact its better

This device is 100 percent going to be the top selling sku of ANY system this holiday by millions sold. 

Casey Curran Staff Writer

08/31/2013 at 01:10 PM

Pixlbit I normally love your guys' articles, but this was not a well written one at all. The confusion part is an issue I'll admit, that's why I wrote a piece poking fun at it. But the fact of the matter is there are parents who hear it's in 3D and don't care that it can be turned off. They'll either dismiss it immediately after hearing or still reason their child can use the 3D and don't want it potentially to harm them in any way.

As for the "sale price 3DS" come on! So you're saying that the 2DS will never go on sale? That people won't be able to pick it up for $100 Black Friday? That the 3DS has been on sale before means nothing, I picked up my XL on sale for cheaper than an average 3DS costs. Does that mean the 3DS should have been taken off the market? No, it just means I got a good deal. And when I picked it up, the regular 3DS was cheaper. The same exact thing will happen with the 2DS. Putting the 2DS up for sale at $100 will be a jump price for some people.

I'm sorry if I come across as an asshole, but I expect more from this website than passing these off as good points.


08/31/2013 at 10:50 PM

I hope this comment doesn't make it sound like I'm pissing on your already soggy cornflakes, but Nintendo is aiming this device squarely at the 7 and under age range. A concrete mention of this would've been nice.

Parents will gobble this up- it's the cheapest handheld. They bulked it up for little hands and removed the hinge so it's less breakable. Nintendo will probably release new accessories because of this- and there's money to be made in that alone.


09/01/2013 at 09:55 AM

I actually agree with much of this editorial, but there's no figuring out the mass consumer when it comes to these things. For example, I actually thought the original Wii was a joke of a console; with no HD, DVD playback, or substantial on-line support, plus a stupid name, I was sure it would be a popular item that first Christmas and then tank substantially. Obviously, I couldn't have been more wrong.

But I was looking at things from the logic of an experienced gamer who can see when something is ill-devised, overpriced, or simply a novelty. And like the author, I, too, see the 2DS as a sort of enigma. But that won't stop Mom, Dad, Grandpa, or Grandma from picking up the relatively inexpensive gadget for Johnny this Holiday.

Perhaps NIntendo's biggest mistake is that this seems like an admission that the orginal 3-D concept was a misstep to begin with. Which it probably was, considering I lose the effect whenever I tilt the screen the slightest bit either direction. But I have to admit, it looks great in Castlevania: Mirror of Fate, and the upcoming Zelda title is also supposed to use 3-D to great effect.

Pity little Johnny won't ever be able to experience it...

Our Take

Nick DiMola Director

09/01/2013 at 01:46 PM

As a parent of an almost 3 year old, I'm really digging the 2DS. My son really manhandles the current 3DS, which keeps me from letting him touch it. However, I think when the time is right, I'll be grabbing him a 2DS because it seems sturdier and less capabale of snapping right in half.

I think selling the system alongside Pokemon X & Y is genius and I'm guessing it's going to do quite well. I also think that the system is going to generate some serious confusion with parents and it's going to be a nightmare for retail employees to properly educate them.

Of course, I can't see into the future and neither can Dan - it could really go either way. Everybody has their own take on this news (because it is kind of strange, if nothing else), so I'm glad Dan was able to offer up his viewpoint in this editorial.


09/02/2013 at 08:52 PM

I'm already mentally saving my pennies for the 2DS. I have depth perception issues, so 3D is absolutely useless as far as I'm concerned. I wasn't planning to buy a current gen handheld at all, until the announcement of the 2DS. I know you can turn off the 3D effect, but why pay for something I can't use? Now I don't have to.


09/03/2013 at 06:39 PM

It's a well written article, but you miss the point entirely. Because of the price point, it will be the new hot gadget for any kid who hasn't already gotten a 3DS brand handheld this holiday. As far as personal preference, I would have liked to see Start/ Select moved to the left side, and a circle pad pro put in its place. =D

Daniel Iverson Staff Alumnus

09/03/2013 at 11:52 PM

Thanks for the comments, everyone.

Based on the feedback I've received, I see now I could've stated my thesis more clearly (or chosen a different headline). The purpose of the editorial wasn't to explain why I think the 2DS will or won't sell. It actually wasn't my intent to make a prediction about sales one way or the other (although, in fact, I think the 2DS is going to sell very well).

That said, a lot of products sell well despite not being very good products. The purpose of this piece was simply to explain why I don't think the 2DS is a very good product, which I tried to do by walking you through my thought process for why I don't personally want to buy one either for me or for my kids.

Several of you seem to have reached a different conclusion, and of course that's perfectly OK. I'm glad Nintendo is making a product that works for you as well as the original 3DS works for me.


09/04/2013 at 06:50 AM

Yeah, due to the capricious nature of the average consumer and some high-profile games coming, the 2DS might indeed succeed despite its inexplicable nature. Seems odd, though, that Nintendo is still putting so much time into the 3-D aspect of its titles, only to discourage a whole base of gamers from actually experiencing it. Really is quite strange.

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