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Nintendo expects 3DS price drop to lead to more varied audience

Majority of buyers currently young males, but company hopes this will change within four months.


DS became a social phenomenon in Japan and throughout the world not because it was played by core gamers, but because their parents, grandparents, younger siblings and girlfriends bought and played it too. The question of whether Nintendo can replicate this broad ranging success with the 3DS came up during the Q&A session of Nintendo's investors meeting last week.

CEO Satoru Iwata admitted that the current 3DS software lineup, with exception to Nintendogs + Cats and Level-5's Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask, mostly target core gamers, and in particular young males. One reason the initial lineup ended up so, said Iwata, is that the system was released not during the year end sales rush season.

As a Nintendo platform, the system has relatively low adoption rate amongst female audiences, Iwata also admitted. However, he noted that for game systems it's not just a question of who bought and who didn't buy it. Once a 3DS system has been purchased, it's possible for members of a family to share the system, so the actual female usage is higher than the sales numbers indicate.

Still, admitted Iwata, when asked what customer makes up the majority of 3DS owners, the answer is young males. This trend is even grater in overseas markets.

One of the issues regarding younger players, those under six, has to do with misconceptions about 3D. Nintendo's message of younger players being able to safely use the system thanks to parental controls took a long time to spread, said Iwata. In Japan, misunderstandings related to this area are slowly clearing up, but it will take additional time. Nintendo will be spreading the message further leading up to this year's holiday season. This message includes the idea that the problem of eye fatigue associated with 3D can be adjusted using the system's 3D volume control.

Aside from the 3D issue, one of the reasons the 3DS adoption rate amongst younger players is slower than with past Nintendo systems is that the 3DS has yet to go through a single holiday season. Additionally, if you have multiple children, you may need to purchase multiple systems. The price was a hurdle for this area, something that was made clear through research following the system's release.

With the new price, Iwata hopes to change the male to female ratio as the holiday season approaches. Within four months, he believes the situation will change considerably.

[Via Nintendo Investors Q&A (Japanese)]

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