Forget the Wii. Forget the Xbox 360. Forget every other console of this generation. When it comes to raw, unfettered selling power, the DS has no equal. Only Sony’s PS2, with a decade of shelf life under its belt, can best Nintendo’s folding touchy-feely dynamo for boxes shifted.
Racking up 11.2 million sales in North America last year, 3.3 million of them in December alone, the hardware’s latest iterations seem unchallengeable by any but its waggle-tastic living room cousin. Nintendo would be foolish, one might have thought, to announce a successor at this point – and yet according to EEDAR (via GoNintendo), we can expect such an announcement within eight months, while the new console itself is tipped to launch inside of 15.
The analyst reasons that Nintendo is losing the support of key third party publishers, and this “will likely lead to heavy declines in hardware and software sales for the Nintendo DS” next year. Sega has certainly put some verbal light between it and its one-time arch-rival in recent months: chatting to 1UP, studio director Constantine Hantzopoulo has suggested that his company will no longer make “mature” games for the Wii. Ubisoft, meanwhile, plans to “refocus” on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 after suffering a €50 million operating loss in fiscal year 2009-10, a tumble the publisher attributes mainly to flagging casual game sales.
Of course, Nintendo already has its work cut out to stay on top in Japan, with the PSP and even PS3 regularly sailing past the Wii and DS in weekly sales on the back of strong software brands. It’s still Nintendo’s market to lose, but competition is getting stiffer by the month, and it’s conceivable that the company is looking to raise the stakes once again. EEDAR points out that the DS’s first mover advantage in the battle with the PSP was decisive: will Nintendo beat its competitors to the starting blocks a second time?
And if it does, what should we expect? Turn the page for some possibilities.