DS outsells 3DS in new handheld's launch month

Speaking of Nintendo, the company enjoyed a pretty impressive sales turnout in March. It seems the entire world was gripped by the compulsion to “catch ’em all”, with Pokémon Black Version / White Version dominating the charts, and the DS was the best-selling games platform for the month.

Nintendo DS

Sometimes the original really is the best.

That’s not a typo. The original, seven-year old DS (or its newer variants, the Lite and the DSi), actually sold more units in March in the United States than any other games console. That includes the brand new, very shiny 3DS. Which is also by Nintendo, and designed to replace the standard DS handheld.

It’s also looking like the 3DS has sold “significantly” fewer during its launch month than the DS did back in 2004, which can’t be a fun statistic for Big N. Analysts do point out that the original DS was somewhat cheaper and had the benefit of launching in a holiday period, while the 3DS is up against smartphones, but still…

Anita Frazier from NPD explains the numbers:

“The 3DS launched in the U.S. on 3/27, so seven days of retail sales are included in this months result’s. The 3DS launch compares quite favorably to that of the best-selling dedicated handheld gaming platform of all time, the Nintendo DS.

While the 3DS sold about 100K units less than the DS did in its launch month, we must consider that the DS launched in November and had holiday seasonality and a price differential of about $100. Because of the price differential, the 3DS generated greater revenues than did the DS in its launch month in November 2004. In addition, the 3DS was launched in an environment where there are more devices that can support the portable gaming experience such as tablets and smartphones.”

So – was this a marketing mis-step for Nintendo? Did the company cannibalise its own fanbase by launching its latest handheld so soon after a game it knew would be a raging success?

…and the big one – should the company have held onto the new Pokémon, made a few adjustments to the visuals, and then released it on the 3DS? If you ever wanted a console-seller, I’d say that’d be it.

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