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Nintendo, why do you seem to hate your fans so much?

New Nintendo 3DS XL
Dear Nintendo,

I’m writing to you as a longtime fan. I could go on here for thousands of words about my elementary-school wanderings with Super Mario Bros. and Tetris, or the many nights spent in heated matches of Mario Kart and GoldenEye. Let’s be honest, though. You know me. You’ve heard these stories before. We may not be personal acquaintances, but you’re no stranger to the enduring appreciation for your beloved stable of characters that your fans possess.

Why, then, do you seem to hate us so much?

Nintendo DS XL packagingThe New Nintendo 3DS has some really fantastic things going on. Face-tracking enhances the system’s glasses-free 3D to the point that it actually works now. New buttons give players and developers both more tools to enjoy their games with. And a faster processor smooths everything out, eliminating the drag of sorting through the dashboard’s cumbersome interface.

But a number of design decisions don’t make sense for customers, fans and first-timers alike.

First of all, what’s up with that power cable? You’re not including one in the box. Fair enough. You expect that most New 3DS purchases will be upgrades. That’s not an opinion; it’s something you’ve confirmed pretty explicitly:

New Nintendo 3DS XL uses the same AC adapter as any Nintendo 3DS or Nintendo DSi system. Rather than raise cost of New Nintendo 3DS XL by charging consumers for a component they may already own, we are giving them the option to only buy if they need an AC adapter.

That’s what you told IGN. But there’s a big flaw in that line of thinking: Most anyone intending to upgrade to a New 3DS is probably going to offset the cost by trading in their old handheld. Problem is, that plan doesn’t work if you don’t have the AC adapter to trade in with your own handheld.

That’s quite a damned if you do/damned if you don’t situation you’ve created. Fans either pass on trading in their old handheld so they can keep their power adapter, or do the trade-in and buy an adapter separately. And first-time buyers have to spend money on top of their $200 purchase just to power the thing on. And it uses a proprietary connector, so it’s not like someone can charge using any old micro USB cable.

That’s not all, though. Your current 3DS uses SD cards, but the New uses Micro SD. Why on Earth would you do that? It’s great that the New 3DS is bundled with a 4GB card, but that’s not nearly enough for many gamers. I’ve got a 32GB card in my own 3DS. And now I have to buy another card, a different card type of the same size, just to keep all my games and saves.

Can’t you see how that might be a thumb in the eye of your fans? You treat the New 3DS as an upgrade proposition, but you’re telling those same fans — really, the biggest of them, the ones that have enough downloaded content to absolutely require more than 4GB of storage — that they have to spend even more money on day one just to upgrade. Just like the power adapter, that’s another unavoidable extra purchase.

Longtime fans and first-time buyers will both have to wrestle with the New 3DS’ shortcomings.

We haven’t even gotten to the rotten cherry that sits on top of all of this: To actually swap out the Micro SD card on a New 3DS, you have to pop off the back plate after removing two small screws that require a non-standard-sized Phillips head screwdriver. It’s the sort of thing that most people don’t tend to have unless they tinker with computers and other electronics. If you’ve got one, awesome. No sweat to pop the back off and slide a new MicroSD in. If you don’t? There’s another day-one purchase.

Now of course this won’t apply to everyone. Some people have precision screwdrivers and spare Micro SD cards lying around. Others have lots of disposable income, or little need for extra storage space. Some even keep all their old hardware, rendering the issue of losing the power adapter from a trade-in moot. But I’d wager that’s a much smaller number, relatively speaking, compared to the longtime fans and first-time buyers both who will wrestle with these shortcomings.

Here’s where I circle back to my original question: Nintendo, why do you seem to hate your fans so much? Why have you made such flagrantly anti-consumer choices for the New 3DS retail release? You’ve got a genuine fan asking here. I am excited, really, truly excited, to play with the New 3DS, to shift all of my Nintendo handheld gaming to that system. But you’ve stacked up so many boneheaded backward steps that create more problems than they solve, I don’t know what to think. Why should I even bother? Why should any of us?

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