It was announced by Game Freak that after the release of Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon that no more core RPG Pokemon games would be coming to the 3DS. As of E3 2017, gamers were told of an upcoming Pokemon title that was headed to the Switch, but it came as a shock to many 3DS fans and holdouts that the future of Pokemon is, in a sense, now Switch exclusive. And that is ultimately going to kill the 3DS.
Doomsayers have been spelling the end for the 3DS since the Switch was first revealed to be a hybrid console. In fact, enough people were asking the same question that Nintendo responded, releasing a list of new games headed to the 3DS. Naturally, this was reassuring that the Switch and the 3DS would be able to coexist, at least for a little while longer.
On top of that list, Nintendo released a new, handheld only console, the New 2DS XL back in July. A list of games and a brand new DS isn’t exactly a red flag spelling the end.
But it’s the statement from Game Freak about the future of Pokemon that is so concerning. In an interview with IGN, Shigeru Ohmori talked about how they had achieved just about all that was possible with the 3DS.
With Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon we’ve tried to eke that out more and really, really push the system to its absolute limits, and we’re now feeling that perhaps this is the maximum of what we can get out.
This statement doesn’t just tell us that Pokemon games on the 3DS are now the best they are ever going to be once Ultra Sun and Moon releases, but it tells us that even with the newly released 2DS there were not enough technical changes or advancements made to justify the core Pokemon games coming to the 3DS family.
So the next question would have to be if other developers will soon reach this conclusion and begin to only bring their games over to the Switch? That is something only time will tell.
But more damning then the statements made by Ohmori is the eventual dip in sales the 3DS will suffer. In a list of the top selling games for the handheld, 3 Pokemon games were in the top 5 spots. So next year when the sales of Ultra Sun and Moon fall off after the Holiday rush, there won’t be the near guaranteed 15 million+ copies sold coming into the 3DS at least once a year.
Now, before anyone throws around that Ohmori just said there would be no more core RPG titles, that is being taken into consideration.
There have been a number of smaller Pokemon titles released over the years. One of the most popular spin-offs featured on the 3DS would be Pokemon Mystery Dungeon. Out of ALL the Mystery Dungeon titles, the highest selling one was Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time and Explorers of Darkness in 2007. Both games combined only sold 4.88 million copies.
There is a big gap between having one title sell 15 million copies and one selling 4.8.
So even if The Pokemon Company announces that one or even a few spin-off titles will be heading to the 3DS, financially it may prove more viable to keep the games coming to the Switch.
Time is the ultimate judge in the case of 3DS v Switch, but this is a massive blow to the family of handhelds that this writer feels in her humble opinion marks the beginning of the end for the 3DS.