It is the same old story that we have been hearing for months now. Nintendo is in a battle with the struggling sales of the Wii U, as the 3DS is unsurprisingly still having strong sales worldwide. Being one of the most popular handheld devices across the globe, it would be crazy to think Nintendo would be already thinking about a new device. However, Nintendo has never been one to stop innovating. It all comes down to a matter of time. So when should we expect the next big handheld device from the guys who do it best?
To start any accurate prediction, you first have to look at history. Nintendo originally debuted the first internationally successful handheld gaming console in Japan on April 29, 1989 with the reveal of the Game Boy. By the release of the Game Boy Color in 1998, the system had sold about 64.42 units worldwide, not including the variations of the console as new releases. From there, the releases of new systems were fairly regular. Not three years later, in 2001 Nintendo released the Game Boy Advance console. Then the Nintendo DS made its debut in 2004, three more years after the release of the GBA. It was only after the wide success of the console and milking of different variations of the hardware, did Nintendo release the Nintendo 3DS in 2011, making a solid seven year gap in release of new hardware.
Now what does all that have to do with the release of the next handheld? Well, currently the 3DS is in it’s fourth year of its life cycle. It has been long enough now that it has become a well established console with 44.74 million units shipped worldwide. While not as impressive at the 96.2 million units shipped as compared to the DS at the same point in it’s life cycle, it is still an impressive number. Today, it is now evident that production for the DS has effectively been shut down with the discontinuation of DS titles. Nintendo has effectively made the complete move to the 3DS at this point. In short, if compared to how Nintendo has run the release of its handhelds in the past, it appears as if they are making room for the next big release.
My prediction is that within the next few financial cycles (2015 or 2016) we will hear news about the next “Game Boy” or “DS” if you will. I assume, much like its predecessors, it will possess backwards compatibility with the 3DS. On what we can expect from the Japanese company however, I have the faintest of clues. Apart from the fact it will have liquid crystal displays, a detail gleaned from the trademarks Nintendo filed for recently, we can only guess at what they could have in store. Even though the company has also hinted at the possibility of a unification between the home and portable formats recently, this vision could easily change. In the end, the best guess we can put together is that it will most likely be another multi-screened device, as the plural use of “displays” implies. Perhaps in the future the next big jump in gaming could be a device that utilizes three screens?
What do you guys think? Could a new handheld be on the horizon or is the 3DS in for the long haul? Feel free to let us know in a comment below!