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Francisco Javier Espejo Gargallo, Blogger

June 17, 2011

6 Min Read

First of all, this is my first entry at Gamasutra, so welcome and thanks for reading my post, and please, say your thoughts on the topics I’m sharing because doesn’t make sense to share if we can’t discuss. Enjoy!

The 3D effect is nice.

When the 3DS was announced at the E3 in 2010 it was clear that the system was a breaking hardware with amazing display tech. The glasses-free 3D seemed to be an excellent slogan for the system and in fact, Nintendo was so impressed with the reaction of every gamer in the Nokia Theatre that they decided to increase the price of the system from an unknown amount to 250$/€. What Nintendo wasn’t expecting then was that the value perceived by the people attending the E3 would not be perceived in the same way on the mass market. Now, with the system on the selves for a few months, lots of people have tried and decided not to buy it due to a few key factors, such as the game catalogue, 3D technology, lack of second Slide Pad… but moreover, the price.   In order to gather info on how people perceive the 3DS, I performed a research on diverse popular game forums (ign, neogaf, vandal…) and asked a few people to share their 3DS and to take notes of perception. I also, lent my 3DS to tens of people and discussed if they we’re interested or not, and why.


Current sofware and some hardware limitation deceived gamers.

When talking to early adopters, it comes clear that the 3D effect and the Nintendo brand become the key point of sales, as lots of people love Nintendo games and thinking of the popular licenses of the company in 3D seems to be a major interest. However, many people didn’t jump in the 3DS wagon yet due to the lack of original and great software. Indeed, on the release there was an amazing Super Street Figther IV 3D edition which still is the biggest game on the system due to its graphics, gameplay and the online play still being a game that millions did played and bought (twice) on the X360 and PS3, but all the other software releases come to be too weak, with not enough content or lack of replay value.  Ridge Racer could have been another system seller if the game supported online play, meanwhile Nintendo’s Pilotwings and Steel Diver were good but lacked of replay value, feeling like old gaming and not with the value to sell more systems. The other good game was the Ghost Recon game, but many people just ignored it because Ubisoft’s pack of games and the other few releases have been just bleak and made more hurt than good, like Red Steel did on the Wii.

 Then, the hardware potential and online capabilities have been in doubt. Many people is issuing problems when playing on 3D like duplicated images, continuous lost of focus or headaches, when on the other hand there’s lots of people criticizing how the game graphics.  Especially when the most interesting games for gamers are half ports from the N64 days, which indeed have been updated but didn’t got a real boost on graphics, making neither the not so dedicated players to think that the system capabilities are only slightly over the N64 graphics, and clearly out of date. Thank God that SSFIV 3D is there because it’s the only game that makes people to continue trusting on the graphics and online capabilities of the hardware, which indeed is performing well for this type of game experience, but avid gamers are asking for more spectacular, online games and fixes to the issues they found when playing with the Capcom brawler, like the difficulties to play with registered friends online (no chat, no game invitation, which requires the players to seek for another channel to start a game). A nice advice to Nintendo would be to make notifications and chat as soon as possible if they want the 3DS to appeal to the gamers, and update SSFIV to make use of it.

 By the way, many gamers also found the lack of a second slide pad to be critical. When playing Rayman or Splinter Cell it was clear, however, the game that really is going to make Nintendo cry on the lack of this piece of hardware is Resident Evil Mercenaries and maybe Ocarina of Time, where players can move a bit the camera moving around the console, something that’s not only enough but hurts the 3D effect as the majority of people losses the 3D focus when moving the system. Maybe mass market will not care, but gamers do, especially when talking of one of the most popular genre: the First Person Shooter.

A mass market that is not appealed by the 3D. 

But more than thinking on early adopters and gamers, I was more interested in the mass market, and I was surprised to learn that many think the 3D is not for them because they had issues trying the system,  so there’s no need to pay the amount of cash for a technology they’ll no make use. Furthermore, the games that appeal to the mass market are both on the DS and on the 3DS. With The Sims and Nintendogs being the most wanted games for the casual players, both games that they surely tried on the original DS. This is especially harmful on countries like Spain or Italy, where the piracy levels are very high and Nintendo should look after products that are new an appealing to them, which we did not foresee soon.


A hardware lost between core gamers and mass market.  

So in the end, I found that the 3DS, which was a system designed to appeal to gamers and non-gamers, got not enought arguments to appeal both of these segments. Gamers think that the hardware lacks of impressive graphics and that the games they expect the system will offer are too old due to the limits of the hardware, and now with the PS Vita coming out soon at the same price and with the power and hardware that will permit any kind of game, seems like 3DS is in danger to appeal to this market.  Meanwhile, the casual market seems to not being appealed by the 3DS main feature and they feel like paying a high price for something they’re not going to make use, and that the experiences they can get are the same they got on the DS they got, so why buying the system?

This may be the cause of the slow start of the system, however, we all must remember that transitions from successful consoles are always slower than expected. It happened from PSX to PS2, and from PS2 to PS3, and it happened with the DS too, with a low start until the market got Nintendogs and Brain Training, new experiences by then that changed the market. I hope that Nintendo tries to fix the issues for the multiplayer experience to gather more gamers, while trying to create new and innovative software that appeals to the mass market once again, but we all now that there are many other platform out there getting the attention of this segment (Social networks and iPhone). 

Thanks for reading my thoughts and please, comment whatever you think!

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