Why isn’t the 3DS selling in Japan? Goo can think of at least 20 reasons

After initially selling out at launch across Japan, just a few months on and the 3DS isn’t exactly flying off the shelves. To be honest, it’s not even outselling the PSP, a system over five years old despite having a considerably larger library of games if you take into account DS and DSi titles. However, that’s just what the people of Japan are doing when deciding whether or not to pick up a 3DS and more often than not, they chose not to. A survey carried out by Goo Research (via Andriasang) asked 672 women and 438 men in Japan their main reasons for not buying the new handheld and the number one reason is price. To them, it’s far too high and the prospect of a reduction is one they’d rather wait for. Over here in the UK, the cost of a 3DS is falling by the week with the Carphone Warehouse dropping as low as £160, a £70 drop from when the system was launched. And like the UK, Japan will be seeing – if it hasn’t already done so – a price drop for the DSi which brings us on to the second reason on Goo’s list; Japanese gamers are happy with the DS and DSi. As I previously mentioned, the lack of games for the new system means people are turning to older releases but the money savvy digital hobbyists are just as content with sticking with the older handheld too. Unfortunately, that’s just what happens when you build something as robust and popular as the DS. Nintendo has admitted they’re having a hard time promoting all the new features the 3DS has to offer but I’d imagine it’s only a matter of time for word will spread.

After all, numbers 11 and 13 on Goo’s list are the inability to play GameBoy Advance and GameBoy games. Odd that such a thing would put people off buying a brand new console, even more so when the last generation wasn’t able to play these games either. But the upcoming eShop launch next Tuesday should rectify that issue. Other reasons for the Japanese public to avoid a 3DS are things not so easily addressed as the size, weight, screen size and button layout are all apparently a problem. These kinds of criticisms can only really be sorted with a lite version, something I thought Nintendo wouldn’t have to do with the 3DS because I thought the system was pretty much spot on. It has the adopted style of Nintendo handhelds being a slick clamshell with a great analog nub and decent size top screen. It appears my neighbours from the far east think differently which could force a second version within a year or so. I doubt it would be sooner but then Sony is said to be releasing the NGP and that factors into the list also. The fourteenth reason for not buying a 3DS is that those questioned want to save their money for an NGP. Quite different from the response in March when Goo asked members online as to what system they’d buy next with the 3DS being number one receiving 14,668 votes leaving the NGP with only 5,200.

So what’s happened within such a short time that is putting Japanese gamers off a 3DS? If price wasn’t such an option then why is it now? Maybe the small number of games that have come out in that time did little to inspire the audience and the slipping of the eShop may have hurt those who wish to play classic titles. This year’s E3 will be very important for Nintendo and I have a lot of faith in them delivering another great conference with not only an official unveiling of Project Cafe but also we’re bound to see a whole load of upcoming 3DS specific games too. All it needs is the next Mario Kart, Pokemon or even Monster Hunter and we could see a complete change in opinion towards the 3DS in Japan. Hell, just show more of Beyond the Labyrinth from Tri-Ace. That game looks gorgeous and designed to make good use of the 3D capabilities which are yet to be truly tested.

Here’s the full list from Goo Research:

1. Price is high/waiting for a price drop
2. Satisfied by DS/DSi
3. Worried about eye strain
4. Worried about getting sick from the screen
5. Few launch titles
6. Will buy once a game I want is released
7. Satisfied by cell phone and smartphone games
8. Satisfied by PSP
9. The battery is weak
10. It’s heavy and I don’t feel like carrying it with me
11. Can’t play Game Boy Advance games
12. The color I want isn’t available
13. Can’t play Game Boy games
14. I’ll save my money for NGP, thank you very much
15. Waiting for a version with a larger screen
16. Because you can’t move your DSi Points over
17. The buttons layout looks hard to use
18. No Famicom/NES in the Virtual Console
19. The zoom view for DS games is hard on the eyes
20. Waiting until my friend buys it