There’s a new gaming handheld in town. It’s called the Nintendo 3DS XL. And I couldn’t care less.
Now, those who have been reading my columns on SlashGear know that I’m not exactly the most understanding when it comes to Nintendo products. The devices are nice and all, but when we actually account for their gaming quality – and appeal to the hardcore gamer – I can’t help but feel they fall short. I’ve felt that way about the GameCube, Wii, and the 3DS.
And now, I just can’t see any reason to care about the 3DS XL.
Of course, I know that the 3DS XL isn’t really a new device. Instead, it’s an improvement to a product that’s already on the market. And for big-time Nintendo fans, it’s something that will undoubtedly be a must-buy.
But for those of us who haven’t necessarily found too much value in the 3DS, what’s the sense in getting the 3DS XL? Yes, it has bigger screens, which should enhance the 3D quality, but perhaps Nintendo is looking in the wrong direction. Like it or not, the 3DS isn’t going to be able to carry Nintendo’s business, simply because smartphones and tablets are creeping into the handheld gaming market.
What Nintendo needs now is not a gimmicky device, but something that appeals to the changing mobile times.
Exactly what that handheld might look like is anyone’s guess. Even if Nintendo offers up some sort of PlayStation Vita alternative, it’s unlikely that the company would be able to establish itself as a real threat to the iPhone and Android-based smartphones. But offering up something that delivers less features and only adds 3D gaming isn’t all that great.
In a world where bigger is typically better, I can see why Nintendo would want to launch a so-called “XL” version of its handheld. I can also see why an ailing company, trying desperately to return to profit, would offer up such a device at a price that’s higher than its predecessor. But what I can’t see is why anyone who already owns a 3DS would buy it.
See, in the past, Nintendo has relied heavily upon consumers buying products that replace or in some way enhance those they already own. The GameBoy Color was arguably the best example of that. When Nintendo offered up the DS and then the DSi, the transition sort of made sense.
Nowadays, though, things have changed. And to simply offer a product with bigger screens isn’t like delivering color to a handheld device. The world is a different place. And it’s about time Nintendo catches up. If it doesn’t, and continues to try its luck with iterative updates that many folks won’t care about, it’ll eventually find itself in the junk heap of gaming history.
And that, I must say, would be awfully sad.
Don Reisinger is a technology and video game columnist. You can see what he's up to each day on Twitter by following him @donreisinger.
The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of SlashGear