But I still want one
The New 3DS looks fantastic, doesn't it? Last week, Nintendo revealed a brand new hardware revision for both the original 3DS and the vastly more comfortable 3DS XL, boasting a sweeping raft of improvements that even I -- an enormous and unrepentant fan of Ninty handhelds -- have been clamouring for since launch.
Increased 3D viewing angle? Check. Second thumb-nubbin to replace the Circle Pad Pro peripheral? That's a big check. Onboard NFC reader for the new Amiibo figurines? Brilliant. Chunky industrial design? You bet. Swappable faceplates! Sign me up!
All of this is music to my ears, but the New 3DS has one last trick up its sleeve: a faster processor.
At face value, a beefier CPU should be a good thing. No, it is a good thing. Not only will the New 3DS benefit from faster loading and store access times, but it will be able to support a more technically advanced range of games, both in terms of graphical grunt and gameplay. To put this in perspective, Xenoblade Chronicles will be the frontline fighter in this new wave of 3DS titles, which is the best JRPG of an entire console generation. Expansive, deep and utterly enormous, it's the sort of game that you'd never expect to see on a handheld.
So why am I worried? Surely I ought to be skipping merrily about the place and throwing Shulk-themed bunting everywhere.
The problem is that the newer processor will be required to run this new wave of games, which splits both the user base and developers right down the middle. Imagine if Sony were to announce a 'New PS4' and a host of exclusives that will only run on the new machine two years from now. That's what we're talking about: we're nowhere near the end of the 3DS' hardware cycle, yet a new more technically proficient device is on the way, with proprietary games, yet shares the same name and branding.
This puts developers in a bit of a quandary, to be frank. The 3DS already has a 44 million-strong player base, and as such, studios will have to think long and hard about whether or not they choose to support the new device. Doing so will require much greater development costs -- bigger prettier games requires more money -- yet could well result in lacklustre returns if the new models don't go gangbusters. As we saw with the PS Vita, a better and more expensive machine actually proves to be financially suicidal to develop top-flight games for, and publishers will be very wary of the new kit.
At first. Sure, Nintendo will underwrite development and probably bring out some 'New 3DS' exclusives of their own, but there's every chance that existing 3DS owners will feel cheated out of new games as opposed to incentivised to upgrade. That's human nature, and it could well see the New 3DS lacking in software support for quite some time.
Which brings us to gamers. We love to see more practical, more useful and more comfortable hardware revisions for our favourite consoles: just look at the PS3 Slim and the 3DS XL. But a more powerful machine with proprietary games puts us in an awkward position. We're being asked to upgrade from a machine we already own to a 'new' version, likely at considerable expense, just to keep up with the curve. Forced obsolescence doesn't feel good, to put it mildly. Worse still (as pointed out by reader phil16 in a comment on the news post), the branding is confusing and will likely lead to plenty of parents and relatives buying their doting offspring games that won't work on their now-obsolete kit. The 3DS branding was already confusing at launch, and this only compounds matters.
Then we have to point out that missing Christmas in the US and Europe is an utter disaster. Normally I'd recommend the 2DS or 3DS XL as the ultimate stocking filler... but I can't when a newer, better model is just around the corner. Why should we pick one up? How many people will buy one at release next year after the annual wallet-emptying winter months? I suspect that this will hurt Nintendo, badly, in the financial stakes for the rest of the year at least.
But that's enough bellyaching, because it's easy to moan and throw toys out of the pram, but it's much more fun and productive to look on the bright side. Millions of us buy into tablets with annual hardware revisions, knowing that some games might not work on their particular iPad model. The New 3DS might well attract a legion of new players to the party, especially those who've been sat on the fence over the lack of a second stick and disenfranchised Vita owners who haven't been able to get on board with Sony's new indie-and-cult-centric direction.
Most importantly of all, though, I know that I want one. But I'd settle for a region-free model all day long.
What do you make of the New 3DS? Let us know in the comments!