Talk about taking advantage of a messed up situation.
When Nintendo didn't put a second analogue on the original 3DS, it was an error that it couldn't really fix without a (very bulky) workaround.
The problem was that the lack of a second stick was not obvious issue to begin with. The Nintendo DS only had one directional input, so why would the 3DS need one?
However, as it became apparent that numerous games and genres were being under-represented by the lack of a second stick (see Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater, for example), and then with the launch of the dual-stick PS Vita, suddenly the 3DS was caught short.
Unfortunately, the only way to fix this was to introduce a bulky docking station for the 3DS that strapped on to the bottom of the handheld. It needed another battery, and communicated over the relatively ancient technology of infrared.
It's arguable that the Circle Pad Pro was the only way to go about it, so fair play to Nintendo - it knew there was an issue and tackled it the only way it could.
Of course, with the upcoming launch of the 3DS XL, a new problem arose. The original Circle Pad Pro (which now looks dainty in comparison to this monster machine) will not fit onto the XL.
With this in mind, Nintendo has now revealed that the XL will receive a special updated Circle Pad Pro - a Circle Pad Pro XL, if you will - that will fit snugly around the XL and look even more bulky that its predecessor.
Again, you could argue that, unfortunately, this was the only possible route that Nintendo could take. If the original Circle Pad Pro didn't fit, what else was the publisher supposed to do?
I don't buy that at all. In fact, I believe the Nintendo bigwigs took the awful situation they had put themselves in, and realized they could actually turn it around and make themselves even more money.
Preparation for the future
Here's a question - the Circle Pad Pro was released earlier this year... so are we to believe that Nintendo didn't already have the 3DS XL in the works before that point?
If the company did indeed have both devices in the works at the same time, here's another question - could it not have quite easily introduced a way to make the Circle Pad Pro slide out and expand, such that it could wrap around both sizes of 3DS handheld?
Of course, to include this back at the start of the year would have been to hint that a larger 3DS was on the way, and therefore could have led to declining 3DS hardware sales as people waited for the bigger version to be announced.
But does that then mean that Nintendo chose to create an inferior product, just so that it could maximize sales on the smaller 3DS model before then cashing in on two different types of Circle Pad Pro?
Pocket Gamer's Kristian Reed argued earlier this month that the 3DS XL should have come with the second stick built in. I now understand why Nintendo didn't include it - the company is looking to cash in on consumer ignorance.
The average consumer who is buying the 3DS or 3DS XL for a son or daughter isn't going to have any clue what the Circle Pad Pro is, and will then go ahead and buy that too if the need arises. Having separate normal and XL versions isn't going to faze them at all, because they most likely won't even be aware that it's a farce in the first place.
You could argue that the Circle Pad XL being built into the 3DS XL would have caused fragmentation. Well here's my response to that - if Nintendo really wants to make amends for the original mistake, why isn't it bundling the Circle Pad Pro XLs with the 3DS XL handheld?
That way, the Circle Pad Pro would still be an optional thing, but it also wouldn't cost XL users that extra bit of money (they need to save some cash for buying a separate AC charger for the damn thing, after all!).
Essentially, Nintendo has taken its original mistake and is now cashing in at the expense of its customers. Profit through self-inflicted confusion is the name of this game.