Yesterday Nintendo announced a new variant in their line of Nintendo 3DS, the 3DS LL. The Nintendo 3DS LL has a variety of additional features which are layed out below.
- Better quality 3D.
- Second analog stick.
- NFC built-in.
- Gyro sensor.
- Two new bumper buttons.
- 7 hour battery life.
- microSD support.
- Wireless PC backup support.
- HTML5 browser.
- CPU clock increase.
The most peculiar change here is the CPU clock rate increase, and investigations by 3Dbrew have also speculated that the system features double the amount of fast-cycle ram, from 128 to 256mb.
Nintendo have so far just one specific title that will be supporting the 3DS LL exclusively. Xenoblade chronicles apparently was not capable of running on the regular 3DS, and required a higher clockspeed to get the game running at an acceptable level.
The problem with this is that Nintendo are effectively aunching some sort of obscure stop-gap between this, and whatever their next-generation of hardware will be. Whatever the 3DS LL (XL) is, it is clearly more than simply an extra large 3DS as its name suggests, supporting additional functionality and exclusive games.
This contributes to a publishing environment on Nintendo platforms that is outright hostile to the consumer. Harkening back to the arrogance of Sony when they told consumers to get a second job to buy a Playstation 3, Nintendo seem to have little regard in expecting consumers to shell out once again for hardware they already own.
Furthermore while to you and I the difference between the regular 3DS, and new moel seems relatively apparent, it’s not necessarily so to the consumer. If we reflect back on the 3DS launch, the initially slow uptake can be partially attributed to confusion between the 3DS and the Nintendo DS brands, with some perceiving the platforms to be the same just with additional 3D support.
All of this proves to be problematic for Nintendo when attempting to market their new systems, and in this particular case depending on the number of games supported by the 3DS LL, creates an awkwardly segmented market across their portable devices. Developers are forced to choose between larger distribution potential, and more resources for their game. Personally I think from a marketing perspective the 3DS LL is a mistake, and Nintendo should hold until they’re ready to launch an entirely new line of hardware for a performance increase.
In the past system upgrades like the ‘expansion pack’ for the Nintendo 64 were more acceptable because they enabled existing consumers to upgrade their hardware and play the lastest, more demanding games. However in this scenario I imagine some are going to feel a little disheartened when they realise they can’t play the newest, or better looking games on the hardware they already shelled £150 for. When I buy a new hardware platform I do so in the faith that there won’t be a new, updated version that will later render my own redundant before the end of that generations lifecycle, however this is precisely what we may be seeing here with the new Nintendo 3DS LL.