I was going to do a post on the best game developers in the world right now. That post is still coming, Dear Reader, but in the meantime, allow me to share in the collective "WHAT?!" at Nintendo’s bizarrely fascinating 3DS announcement. Where in the balls did this come from? And why now, with so little fanfare? Nintendo claims they want people to have a "heads up" of what’s going to be at E3. That sounds about as reasonable as Caesar giving the Romans an "fyi" that he’s going to march across the Rubicon. The whole point of announcements like this is to come out on the largest possible stage, after the biggest possible fanfare…right?
The way I see it, there are two basic things Nintendo could be up to here.
1. Band-Aid Theory. The weirdest thing about this announcement is that the DSi XL is still planning to launch in a matter of days. What on God’s green Earth could Nintendo possibly be thinking, announcing a superior product on the eve of a launch? Do they really think anyone’s going to buy this thing now? I mean, I know the DS has been a sales killing machine, and I respect that, but there’s a difference between bold and insane.
So, maybe they want to smother the DSi XL. Maybe they’re hoping to drag sales down in North America (it’s already out in Japan and Europe), in order to prime the pump for the 3DS. God only knows why the DSi XL is coming out in the first place if that’s what they’re up to, but companies are like the people who comprise them: their reasons aren’t always logical. If we view the XL as a thing Nintendo could not avoid releasing for whatever reason, then perhaps this announcement is hoping to cut the product off at the knees and make it invisible in the US. Nintendo may be afraid of over-saturating their market, and perhaps they’re hoping the 3DS will preemptively gobble up the XL and minimize damage.
2. They’re Insane. That’s the only other theory I’ve got. I mean, Nintendo has proven me wrong before: I was vocal about thinking the Wii would bomb, and look what happened there; God bless them, they’re a company that thinks outside the box (they call it "Blue Ocean Strategy"). Still, they’re known for extreme lows to match the highs: no one can regard the Gamecube as anything but a mistake (as much as I loved it), the Nintendo 64 got outpaced by newcomer Sony, and let’s not even talk about Virtual Boy.
My point is, I’m pretty sure that every executive working at Nintendo has "Just Crazy Enough to Work" tattooed on their left butt cheek, because these people live and die by left-field business decisions. Sometimes they’re quirky, sometimes they’re downright bizarre, and sometimes they make one hundred bajillion dollars. But this is not one of those times. If this is some kind of trick, it isn’t going to work. I’m sure the 3DS will be fine, God knows a 3D version of an already disgustingly popular game platform sells itself, but whatever extra shenanigans this is supposed to incur aren’t happening.