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Iwata On Development Costs, Turning Off 3D On 3DS

Speaking at an investors briefing, Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata shared some of his company's expectations for its mysterious 3D handheld, including development costs for 3D games, the ability to turn off 3D functionality, and more.
Speaking at a recent investors briefing, Nintendo CEO and president Satoru Iwata shared some of his company's expectations for its mysterious 3D handheld, including development costs for 3D games, the ability to turn off 3D functionality, and more. The Nintendo head indicated that development costs for 3D games versus traditional titles depends on how studios use the feature with the Nintendo 3DS. If developers intend to simply display their video game world in 3D, that might not require much effort, but he feels there's little value in that approach for players. "... Converting a game that already takes place in a 3D world into 3D is not all that difficult," said Iwata, according to a translation of his remarks from weblog Andriasang. "If you try to make something that's not in a 3D world into 3D, you'll probably have some cost. However, I don't really feel that there's any substance to that. Naturally, you won't make a game interesting by just making the visuals 3D." "It's when you offer an interactive experience in the 3D visuals as part of a set with something that is interesting that you first have value as entertainment." "Regarding this, there's still no foundation, and it's an area that requires trial and error. It is that trial and error alone that could see an increase in development cost. However, the trial and error is there for any development where you try to make new entertainment experiences, and not just 3D." Iwata noted that developers can keep their costs down during this trial and error phase through good management, such as keeping teams small while experimenting, then increasing the group's size once a foundation is in place for the project. Discussing concerns about the Nintendo 3DS damaging users' eyes, he said, "While the 3D image is a special feature of the 3DS, we won't force the player to use the 3D functionality. By making it so that the player can at all times play with [the 3D feature] off, we believe we can comply with those who have difficulty with the 3D view or those who are worried about their childs' eyes." On the topic of Nintendo 3DS software prices possibly rising, the executive said that third-party publishers will decide on pricing and that he cannot give more specifics yet. When asked about rumors of the updated system requiring high end and expensive hardware, he said, "When we made the 3DS, we wanted to make it into a platform that would attract a wide variety of things, from high end games to extremely casual games." When asked if he was worried that the rising popularity of social games and cloud computing would make traditional consoles or handhelds feel antiquated, and if Nintendo would consider releasing an OS or firmware for other companys' platforms, Iwata responded, "If you ask why we make game consoles, it's because we believe that 'offering experiences that cannot be done on other devices' is our life line." He concluded: "With that meaning, offering software for a multi purpose multimedia device is, for us, an area of work that we have least interest in. ... If we were to stop and do nothing, the current game system framework would probably become antiquated, but because we continue to offer new things, we don't feel at all that this will happen. We've not once thought things like 'we'll be behind the times, so we should enter social games.'" Further summary of Iwata's comments are available via Andriasang.

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