This is such a big week for both Nintendo and us! The company is going to reveal all of the important details concerning its next big console, the Switch. Or, should I say console and handheld, since the Switch is going to do it all. All this may make you wonder what could happen with the 3DS, though. Should that handheld stay or should it go?
The 3DS is getting up there in age. It debuted back in 2011 and is coming up on its sixth birthday. Thinking back, the DS was discontinued after about 10 years and the Game Boy Advance after nine. Would now be a good time for Nintendo to go ahead and consolidate? Should the Nintendo 3DS be cut off in the next few years? It isn't a completely unlikely prospect.
In one way, totally shifting focus makes sense. The Switch is a hybrid console that can do it all. Games that'd excel in both home and mobile settings are going to be embraced. It's a big gamble, and Nintendo is going to want to give it all it's got. Especially seeing how the Wii U went with its lackluster support. Narrowing the focus to center in on one system makes sense. Especially with trends that suggest portable gaming could end up falling solely to smart devices (in North America, anyway) in the coming years. The 3DS is getting up in years and there are a lot of series that got their start on it that would transition well to the Switch.
But then, the Nintendo 3DS has been selling extraordinarily well lately. During the 2016 holiday shopping season, availability plummeted and has yet to recover. 3DS models across the board sold out, thanks to the popularity of Pokemon Sun and Moon and mobile games like Pokemon Go and Super Mario Run getting people hyped up about Nintendo again. The game library was extraordinarily strong in 2016, and seems like it will remain so in 2017. With the demand still there, Nintendo would be crazy to discontinue the handheld right now.
I think it would be best if Nintendo allowed the 3DS to run its course. Give it another three or four good years, so it enjoys the sort of lifespan the Game Boy Advance and DS did. People clearly love the handheld. I love it so much, I purchased a standard 3DS, Pikachu 3DS XL, The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D New 3DS XL, and a Japanese Mint x White 3DS LL.
Then, when the 3DS is in its glory days, it would be wise to pare down. Maybe by 2019, reveal there will be no 3DS successor and all focus will turn toward the Switch. It'll be well settled by then. Focusing on a single system, as Microsoft does, would be good for Nintendo. Especially if it plans to keep giving mobile gaming a go. On that schedule, we don't see a good system's life suddenly cut short and the Switch gets time to grow and succeed. There's no need to make rash and immediate decisions, especially when Nintendo can't keep a system on store shelves!