Nintendo has dominated the handheld gaming market with since they first created the Game Boy.  Although they’ve been challenged, Nintendo has never given up the throne. With hardly any competition to speak of the 3DS continues Nintendo’s domination of the market. Read on to find out how!

Nintendo has been the undisputed heavyweight champion of handheld gaming ever since they released the first generation of their Game Boy in the late 1980’s since then; it’s gone on to become the third best-selling console of all time. The list is topped by the PlayStation 2, but the Nintendo DS is not far behind.

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With the release of the 3DS, Nintendo took handheld gaming into the next generation. They compete a bit with the PlayStation Vita, though the sales numbers remain in Nintendo’s favor. They continue to own the handheld market, and it doesn’t look like they’ll be going anywhere in the near future.

Creating Something New

Nintendo hardly ever releases a new console without a piece of innovation. Each time they release something, there’s a new twist on what’s currently available. They’ve done this with every home console they’ve produced, from the GameCube’s design to the Wii’s interaction. Now, the Switch allows gamers to play in a way they’ve never been able to before.

With the 3DS, Nintendo’s innovation was no different. In fact, they might have gone further here than with any other console.

A 3-D World

The 3DS wasn’t just a catchy name. It told users what they could expect by picking up one of these consoles. This was the first time the general public got to see the 3-D graphics without the need for goggles. Nintendo created a 3-D world you could hold in the palm of your hand.

The 3DS was unlike any other console of its time. Even today, it’s the only place where most people can get the 3-D experience without wearing uncomfortable glasses. Additionally, Nintendo dipped their toes in the augmented reality ocean with the 3DS.

Nintendo is constantly on the cutting-edge of what’s possible in gaming. Instead of focusing on the cumbersome virtual reality, they put their efforts into a place where the technology already existed. For better or worse, we may have never experienced the Pokémon Go! craze if the 3DS hadn’t already proved that audiences would enjoy augmented reality


Sony tried to usurp Nintendo when it came to handheld gaming, and they almost had them. The PSP was a fine handheld machine and makes a list as one of the best handheld consoles of all-time. Unfortunately for Sony, Nintendo headlines this list with at least four of their consoles ranking ahead of the PSP.

The competition for the handheld market was fierce when the PSP took on the DS. Nintendo made the right moves and attracted the non-gamer audience, which leads to its eventual success when all was said and done. The DS went on to become Nintendo’s best-selling console, and the PSP was relegated to more of a niche market of gamers who wanted an authentic PlayStation experience in their mobile games.

Current Generation

When it came time to compete once again, it seemed that Sony had already lost before they even started. The PlayStation Vita was a good machine, but Sony didn’t relegate many resources to supporting it. On the other hand, the 3DS was a massive success. Some even argue that it is the best handheld console of all time, though this may be recent bias playing a part.

Now, there’s virtually no competition in the marketplace. Someone might decide to buy a Switch over a 3DS, but that’s hardly going to phase Nintendo – who will profit either way. Additionally, there’s a good argument for buying both, as the Switch battery still won’t last you long enough to make it through a long flight.

Although some may argue, it’s fair to say that the PSV is dead. Sony even admits as much, as Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe executive Jim Ryan told Rolling Stone last year: “The Vita still sells in Japan and some parts of Asia, but it’s not an active line for us in the west.”

If the Vita is dead, the 3DS continues unimpeded by competition. There’s still some Sony fans that choose the Vita over the 3DS, but most gamers and non-gamers will pick up this generation of the DS over anything else. There’s nothing to compete with, so Nintendo remains the king of the handheld space.

Just because there’s no competition, doesn’t mean that Nintendo isn’t still bringing their A-game.

A Rocky Start

Initially, the lack of true competition proved to be a negative for Nintendo. There was no one to keep them sharp, and the initial release of the Nintendo 3DS looked as though it might be the first Nintendo handheld to fail. At release, the console cost a whopping $333, which was the most expensive handheld in history.

After a year of lackluster sales, Nintendo went back to what worked: an affordable price and a focus on gaming. They cut the price by over $100 and started releasing titles that brought Nintendo fans back to their new handheld console. Games like Super Mario 3d Land and Mario Kart 7 helped to revive this generation of handheld consoles.

Nintendo continued their strategy of releasing compelling games for the 3DS with Pokémon titles, “life simulators, and many more. Eventually, it became clear that the 3DS was anything but a failure; it was another step in making Nintendo the champion of handheld gaming.

The Gaming Experience

Nintendo knows what gamers want, and they always have. They’ve always been designing their consoles with gamers in mind, by focusing on the content as the first priority. In the early days of handheld consoles, the Game Boy beat out consoles with better specs by featuring games you couldn’t get anywhere else. They know that the experience gamers want is all about the game their playing – not as much about the graphical capabilities of a machine.

Nintendo created the 3DS with the same mentality. This time, though, they added something even more powerful than a good game: nostalgia. They didn’t only focus on new titles that made gamers feel like they had to get the machine, but they brought back old titles for which gamers were clamoring.

Classic Gaming

Nintendo recently released the NES classic and the SNES classic. These mini consoles captured gamer’s nostalgia and flew off the shelves when they first came out. In fact, due to Nintendo’s classic under-production – there weren’t even enough to go around. Fans were paying hundreds of dollars for these machines just to play games from over two decades ago.

If you had a 3DS, though, you didn’t need to worry about getting one of these consoles. The Nintendo 3DS games are fantastic on their own, but the 3DS has served as a gaming time machine for years.

Although Nintendo didn’t originally release their back-catalog with the 3DS, they allowed you to play older games with the subsequent Nintendo 3DS XL. Here, you can play some of your favorite games from older generations of Nintendo consoles, all the way up to the backward compatible games from the original DS.

Nintendo knows that the only thing more powerful than a good game is the ability to play old games. The company has made some of the best games out of any publisher, and fans love to go back and revisit their former loves. The 3DS doesn’t contain every game from old consoles, but it offers enough to keep the gaming community happy with their handheld product.

Gaming the Right Way

Unlike other backward compatible games, Nintendo doesn’t force the old games to fit the new screen size. When consoles do this, the older game stretches out and looks unnatural on the screen. Instead, Nintendo pays homage to the classics by giving you the experience of playing one of your favorite games the way it was meant to be played. Nintendo knows that you shouldn’t fix what isn’t broken, which is part of the reason audiences love the 3DS.

The 3DS Today

The 3DS still controls the market when it comes to handheld gaming. It offers classic gaming and modern gaming together in one place unlike any other console on the market – even Nintendo’s own Switch. If you don’t like the 3-D element, you can always switch it off or choose to buy a 2DS Instead.

If you want to play these games on PC, you can always download a Nintendo 3DS emulator and some Nintendo 3DS roms on your PC and laptop. Nintendo consistently releases awesome titles, and the games for the 3DS are no exception.

The King of the Handheld Console

Nintendo has never given up their throne when it comes to the handheld market. There have been some challengers over the years, but none of them have come close to taking over Nintendo’s bread and butter.

Going forward, Nintendo looks to keep their hold on the handheld market. The 3DS is still relevant and offers users a way to play their old games while they’re on the go. Their innovations from over five years ago are still considered groundbreaking today, and there’s no end in sight for Nintendo’s reign over handheld console gaming.

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