Nintendo: "difficult" decision to hold back New 3DS release in Europe, US

"I think we could have tried harder."

Nintendo boss Satoru Iwata has said that the decision to stagger the New Nintendo 3DS' global roll-out had been a "difficult" decision.

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The company president explained that Nintendo chose to hold back the launch of its new handheld in Europe and North America until 2015 due to a limited amount of stock.

A simultaneous launch worldwide would have been possible, Iwata conceded, but only with global shortages.

"Regarding New Nintendo 3DS, the quantity that was produced before the end of last year or the amount that was delivered to consumers, was limited," Iwata explained to investors in a recent Q&A.

"Overseas, in Europe or the US for example, it takes longer than in Japan for the products to be produced in China and to actually arrive and be lined up in stores. Hence, we had to make a difficult decision on whether it was acceptable or not to cause a worldwide shortage of New Nintendo 3DS.

"As a result, (based on the different diffusion levels of the preceding models), we made the decision to launch it in 2015 in Europe and the US."

Japan and Australia were the only territories to see the launch of New 3DS and New 3DS XL last year, in time for 2014's lucrative year-end sales season.

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The New 3DS finally arrived in the West earlier this month and sold 335k during its opening week, around three times as much as the 3DS XL sold when it was released.

When asked by an investor if Nintendo could have sold even more units - by profiting on the positive reception to the device, and by selling it in Europe and the US over Christmas - Iwata replied:

"In hindsight, the actual results and the reactions to the launch of New Nintendo 3DS tell me that you are absolutely correct in assuming that the results would have been different if it were launched within 2014," he said.

In fact, focusing heavily on the New 3DS heavily in Japan actually detracted from Nintendo's attempts to draw attention to the Wii U, Iwata continued.

"Putting effort into attracting attention to New Nintendo 3DS became an obstacle to selling Wii U in Japan has made us once again understand the difficulty in staggering the sales peaks.

"We have many issues to reflect on, and I think we could have tried harder. However, beyond that, I believe that although the traditional practice of selling things and the belief that products will sell well if you advertise broadly and make attractive discount offers, worked five or ten years ago, it is no longer applicable in this present day."

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Tom Phillips

Tom Phillips

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