Earlier this week (or late last month, if you prefer) Nintendo hosted a big Pokemon press conference to talk about upcoming plans and titles for the franchise.
This was kind of a big deal for me.
When it comes to Nintendo hardware there is really only one franchise that interested me. I’ve played some variations on Mario and a couple of other brands, but I am really only about Pokemon.
And, from time immemorial… or at least since 1996… the core of the Pokemon franchise has lived on the Nintendo handheld hardware. In addition to not being up on their other titles, I am also behind on consoles on every front save one; Nintendo handhelds. I have a relatively new Nintendo that I got this past Christmas. And I wanted it only to be sure I could play the next round of Pokemon games that would surely find their way to that platform. After all, over on the Pokemon.com site, the icon for the video games category is literally a Nintendo handheld.
So I watched the updates from the press conference and waited for an announcement aimed at me and my fellow handheld players. We are, after all, the core of the Pokemon community. They had to have something for us.
But they didn’t. They spoke of Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu and Pokemon: Let’s Go Eevee for the Nintendo Switch, which sound similar, if not exactly like, core Pokemon RPG titles. There is even a pair of them being launched together. And they spoke of how two people could play together and how you would be able to transfer Pokemon over from Pokemon Go.
They also spoke of the whimsical and blocky looking Pokemon Quest, also for the Nintendo Switch.
And, finally, they spoke of a real core Pokemon RPG game coming to the Nintendo Switch in 2019.
Not mentioned at all was the Nintendo handheld family, which left me feeling left out of the picture.
I realize that Nintendo has been very much intent on getting everybody they can to buy a Switch. And it has been selling pretty well. But so has the Nintendo handheld line. The Nintendo 2DS/3DS line has been doing okay on sales. While they the numbers are down from the peak in 2013, they have bouncing back from their decline with 2017 beating out 2016 for units shipped and 2018 so far almost equal to 2017 sales already. (Annual sales chart)
So what is Nintendo’s plan here? Have handheld units been effectively abandoned? I know that there is more to the 2DS/3DS game catalog than just Pokemon, but it is pretty much the Pokemon platform, and sales of the core Pokemon RPG games both drive and are driven by handheld unit sales.
I hope this doesn’t signal the end of the line for the Nintendo 2DS/3DS line. The durable little dual screen handheld units have served me well for a decade now.