Nintendo has lost its mind. The company has just gone crazy. There is no other explanation for their horrible marketing decisions as of late. First, it flubbed the Wii U and turned it into the red-headed, fish-head eating stepchild of the console family, and now it's dead set on releasing a new version of the 3DS, only four years into the handheld's life cycle, called the New 3DS.
I imagine this conversation happened at Nintendo, prior to the announcement.
Executive A: "The Wii U still isn't taking off, but the 3DS is doing well. Something must be done!"
Executive B: "Indeed. Hey, we've been working on the 3DS successor. How about, instead of waiting another 2 years, so there's a 6 year gap between systems like there was between the DS and 3DS, we go ahead and issue a new 3DS."
Executive A: "Would it be like the XL upgrade, where people wouldn't have to buy it if they were happy with their old model?"
Executive B: "No! It would be just a teensy bit better, so people would be forced to buy a whole new console for another $200-odd dollars to play exclusive games made just for it."
Executive A: "That's genius! Surely it will save us! Let's name it the New 3DS."
Executive B: "Let's celebrate with frosty milkshakes!"
End scene. Laid out like that, it's easy to see how laughable the situation is. Only it isn't funny, because everyone who already owns a 3DS is going to suffer.
The New 3DS and New 3DS XL are almost completely different systems. This isn't comparable to the DS and DSi situations. The new models have a better CPU built into them, a C-Stick, ZR and ZL buttons, and work with NFC figures. It's not like Nintendo just shoved a camera in there. It's something entirely new, arriving with very little warning.
Especially since it will leave people who currently own 3DS systems wondering how much support we're going to get. Already, one New 3DS exclusive has been announced - Xenoblade Chronicles. It's a port of the critically acclaimed, Wii RPG. Who knows how many other, similar games will follow.
And, to make matters worse, it isn't like upgrading to a New 3DS is easy. Nintendo doesn't exactly have a unified account system in place here. People who already own a 3DS can't just buy a New 3DS, log into their account, and download their new games to the system. The time-consuming System Transfer has to be performed, and the old 3DS is essentially worthless after, because a NNID and games can only be on one 3DS system at a time (thanks, Nintendo!). As someone with a Pikachu 3DS XL, I'm not ready to let go of it after only a year.
Which presents another problem. Most people who have 3DS systems are satisfied with them. The handheld isn't that old, and the New 3DS isn't being heralded by Nintendo as an entirely new console. It's being regarded as akin to the DSi. Xenoblade Chronicles is the only game so far that "needs" it. The current 3DS games that support its C-stick also work with that standard 3DS Circle Pad Pro. People may not jump ship to the new model because they may not know if it will even be worth it.
Plus, there's that name--New 3DS. It's ridiculous. Can you imagine walking into a store and asking to buy a new New 3DS? The naming issue should have been an indicator in and of itself that Nintendo was about to make another big mistake. If New 3DS is the best you can do, maybe it would be best to wait another year or two, take what you were going to put into this upgrade, and use it for the next major upgrade. Perhaps call it the 3DS Next, or 3DSx for short. (BTW, I want royalties if Nintendo does go with that.)
The New 3DS is just ridiculous and divisive. The name sucks, it has too many revisions to be seen as a DSi-style upgrade, and it's utterly awkward. There's no way to comfortably upgrade. Especially since one has to wonder if we're going to get an entirely new, better handheld after the 3DS turns six. If a hardware upgrade is so intensive that new games require it, wait another year or two and make it the next official 3DS. Because I'm telling you right now--the New 3DS isn't going to sell.