Enjoying that snazzy New 3DS with its totally cool faceplates? I bet you are, at least here in Europe. But if you are in the USA, between an Amiibo shortage and another, you are stuck with the XL variation. And no faceplates.
Now, an article by Nintendolife has a NOA manager interview, where they mention something about it:
“Look, the face plates are super cool, but we’re a different market. And now we have clear differentiation between those three systems. […] The core audience… we weren’t going to win with them on that decision. But we had to think about expanding the user base, we had to be able to market it and make it easy to pick up for consumers.”
I should mention why I disagree with this. The american market might be different from Japan and Europe, but that’s kinda the point. Nintendo’s own data very recently mentioned that the USA made up for 63% of the total Amiibo shipments. That means they almost doubled the amount of sales in Japan, Europe and Australia combined.
That, to me, sounds like the exact definiton of a fan-driven market. And it’s not too unexpected: the USA have always been one of Nintendo’s biggest territories, and it’s there that most of the ardent fans are. By comparison, Europe was quite comfortable with Sega and Commodore back then, and later on, with Sony. Only the Wii and DS really managed to give Nintendo a big presence in Europe (indeed, bigger than in the USA for the DS), but that was arguably due to the blue ocean strategy. Once the Wii U and 3DS arrived, with their new-found fans focus, european sales once again became smaller than USA sales.
So why wouldn’t they want to sell the New 3DS and its faceplates in the USA? If Amiibo sales are any indication, american fans would lap those faceplates up. But then, this is hardly the only strange decision Nintendo has made lately. Sending low stocks of Amiibo figurines, and eventually substituting them with cards? Do fans even care about that? I’m under the impression that most Amiibo buyers are buying them because they are cheap Nintendo figurines of good quality, not their NFC features.
It all points out to a short term strategy, but it’s too bad because it had potential for a long term plan.