As Nintendo Switch grows, the 3DS is probably dead

Nintendo has just released their nine-month financial report and it shows good news for the Nintendo Switch — the hybrid handheld console has shown steady growth so far. The Nintendo 3DS, however, is not faring so well and may not be long for this world.

As Ryan “Toadsanime” Brown highlighted, Nintendo has just released its financial report for the first nine months of this fiscal year. (Unlike how most of us think of a year, many companies have their fiscal year conclude on March 31.) While the Switch has shown a healthy margin of growth, the numbers for the Nintendo 3DS have dropped like a stone — and they weren’t all that big to begin with.

The Nintendo Switch shows strong performance

Let’s start with the good news. The Nintendo Switch sold 17.74 million units from April 2019–December 2019, 12.56 million of which were for the new Nintendo Switch Lite. That’s a healthy amount of growth when compared to the 14.49 million units sold in the previous year.

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The mainline Nintendo Switch declined slightly, dropping from 14.49 million units in the first nine months of 2018 to 12.56 million units in the first nine months of 2019 — the remaining 5.19 million consoles sold were Nintendo Switch Lites.

It’s pretty safe to say that the Nintendo Switch Lite was a success, too. Roughly speaking, for every ten Nintendo Switch Consoles sold, one of them is a Nintendo Switch Lite — and it hasn’t even been out for a year.

Nintendo’s mainline console continues to grow, ultimately increasing 22.5% in sales year-on-year. Software sales are up, too, growing by 30.1% year-on-year for the Switch. That said, it seems that some of this success may have come at the expense of the Nintendo 3DS line of products.

…but the Nintendo 3DS doesn’t

Nintendo 3DS sales Mario Kart


While the Switch is doing well, the Nintendo 3DS has not been so lucky.

Let’s do the numbers dance again. Firstly, there were only 0.62 million handhelds in the 3DS line sold in the last nine months. That sounds like a pretty poor performance, and it kinda is. It gets especially worse when confronted with another key point: this is a 73% drop year-on-year.

Comparing this year versus last year, we also can see that the Nintendo 3DS sold 2.31 million units in the first nine months of Fiscal Year 2018. Going from 2.31 million units to 0.62 million units in just a year is a positively staggering drop.

Making the problem worse, software title debuts have also fallen. 212 new Nintendo Switch games came out in the United States during the first nine months of FY 2018. That grew to 244 new games from April 2019 through December 2019 in the Americas.

So, how did the 3DS do? Well, there was only a paltry 12 new games released in America from April 2018–December 2018. That sounds awful, and it only gets worse when you learn that Nintendo reports just one new game coming out in the first nine months of Fiscal Year 2019. (Europeans were slightly luckier, with a massive two new games for 2019.)

The writing was more or less on the wall all the way back in 2018, although Nintendo fought against the handheld’s decline for some time. They promised to continue support for the console in June of last year despite a handful of new games coming out for the year. Nintendo of America President Doug Bowser even stepped in to comment on the issue late last year.

“We continue to look at the 3DS family, both hardware and games, as a strong entry point for some consumers,” Bowser said in an interview with The Verge. “And we’re seeing that. As long as consumer demand is there, we’ll continue to provide both hardware and software on the front.”

And there’s the final nail in the coffin. While hundreds of thousands of Nintendo 3Ds sales is certainly nothing to scoff at, it pales in comparison to the millions of Nintendo Switches moving off of Store shelves. As the company’s recent financial report shows, 96.5% of Nintendo’s console sales are now in the Nintendo Switch family. If that doesn’t make the Nintendo 3DS dead, I don’t know what does.