Has Nintendo 3DS finally entered its golden years?

Nintendo 3DS
Image Credit: Nintendo

The Nintendo 3DS had a good, long eight-year run, but now it may be time for the handheld gaming console to hang up its hat at last. That's judging by the console’s recent financial performance and recent rumors of a smaller, more affordable Nintendo Switch due in 2019.

TweakTown recently took a closer look at Nintendo’s most recent fiscal 2018 financial results, in which Nintendo touts positive growth for its Switch console, and found some rather muted statements regarding the Nintendo 3DS console’s current performance and its future.

“For Nintendo 3DS, we will continue to leverage the platform's rich software library and its hardware install base to further expand sales of evergreen titles,” the report reads.

Nintendo’s original plan upon the launch of the Switch was for the two consoles to be supported side by side. So, why the shift in position? 

“Hardware sales of Nintendo 3DS, now in its 8th year since launch, were 2.31 million units sold (60.5% decrease on a year-on-year basis), while 11.08 million software units were sold (64.5% decrease on a year-on-year basis),” the report reads.

Compare these precipitous drops in 3DS console sales with the sharp, nearly 20% growth of the Switch console in sales from 2017 to 2018, it’s easy to see why the company is shifting focus. 

Let the changing of the guard begin

Nintendo is clearly reducing its focus on the 3DS, with Nintendo listing 84 upcoming Nintendo Switch games on its website within the next two months and a mere six games for the 3DS through the same period.

However, this redirection will leave Nintendo without a game console for the 13-and-under crowd of kids that the 3DS and later 2DS served so well for eight years. The Nintendo Switch is certainly not a toy for most young children, with delicate and moving parts abound.

It’s this void that lends strong credence to recent rumors and reports of a smaller, more affordable and more kid-friendly Nintendo Switch console for a possible 2019 release.

To create a heavily modified version of an existing platform for an expanded audience is certainly not out of Nintendo’s purview – just look at the Nintendo 2DS

With that impetus, and the truth in the numbers, it looks more than likely that Nintendo 3DS will soon enter a comfortable retirement with a respectable 74.84 million lifetime sales. That’s a lot of entertained people.

Now, it’s finally time to usher in the next evolution of the Game Boy – the Switch – as Nintendo’s console for everyone.

Joe Osborne

Joe Osborne is the Senior Technology Editor at Insider Inc. His role is to leads the technology coverage team for the Business Insider Shopping team, facilitating expert reviews, comprehensive buying guides, snap deals news and more. Previously, Joe was TechRadar's US computing editor, leading reviews of everything from gaming PCs to internal components and accessories. In his spare time, Joe is a renowned Dungeons and Dragons dungeon master – and arguably the nicest man in tech.