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Nintendo Cuts 3DS Price by 32% to USD$170

Just 4 months after the release of the 3DS, Nintendo has cut the price by USD$80 effective from August 12th. This was a necessary move for Nintendo as they have been struggling to get people to buy the system after having such great success with the Nintendo DS. With the PSP Vita tentatively coming out at the end of the year for $250 it was expected that a price cut would be made this year but it has come a few month earlier than expected.

Now all Nintendo need to do is to step up the release of quality games from themselves and third party developers. They needed to get the system in more hands so that developers have a greater audience to sell to, which is what the price cuts aims to do but people will still be hesitant if the games aren’t there.

Existing owners (830,000 in America), who Nintendo will automatically register into the Ambassador program, will be able to download 10 NES VC games and 10 Game Boy Advance VC games from the Nintendo eShop for free as part of their early adoption of the Nintendo 3DS. The selection of GBA games are very attractive with Metroid Fusion, Yoshi’s Island, Super Mario Advance 3, Mario Kart Super Circuit, WarioWare, and Mario vs. Donkey Kong all exclusive to those in the Ambassador program. I would love to have these games on my system to play at any time and I’m kind of tempted to buy a 3DS so that I could be part of the program since Nintendo are saying that they have no plans to make these games available to the general public.

Press Release Link (http://www.nintendo.com/corp/nintendo3ds/news/)

Indignant Gamers and a Sense of Entitlement – The Cost Argument

One of the number one complaints from gamers that I read and hear about is cost. Gamers or at least critics and commenters get riled up and even in some cases indignant about the cost of games and devices. While this sort of entitlement is not just restricted to just video games, it seems that gamers are less rational in this aspect. For me I rarely have an issue about the cost of devices or games because in my mind, if I’m buying something new or cutting edge I am paying a premium to play it as soon as it comes out. I know what my budget is and if I can’t afford it right now I know it will be discounted at least 6 months down the line, or for consoles around the two year mark.

Recently with the announcement of two new consoles (PS Vita and Wii U) it was clearly evident that this issue was still at the top of gamers mind’s. Knowing the sensitivity gamers have to price I shouldn’t have been surprised when some people criticised the announced price of the PSP Vita at $250 or $300 for 3G version. For a high quality handheld entertainment device, to me and to most people it looked to be a very reasonable price but a small subset of people still complained that it was overpriced.

Item number 2, people that are angry that publishers and developers have implemented an “online pass” feature making people who buy used copies of games to pay around $10 to access online multiplayer modes or some additional content. This is another bewildering reaction to something that I feel is completely reasonable. Companies such as EA and THQ have been getting flak for trying to get some revenue from used game sales. As we continue to move to digital distribution where there is no concept of used games, I find it hard to get angry that if I buy a used game I may have to pay an additional fee to play online. If anyone should get angry it should be companies like Gamestop not regular gamers.

Item number 3, people criticising Nintendo for not announcing the price of the Nintendo Wii U and complaining about the potential cost of extra controller (which is a non-issue since the standard is games requiring just the one tablet controller included with the system). E3 for Nintendo was the first time they have shown the system which is at least a year away, they don’t need to reveal the price and why should they if they are still tweaking the system.

Last point DLC, people complaining about paid DLC and the fact that developers plan and develop it while the game is in development. Gamers feel entitled that it should be included in the price of the game or the game itself should be priced cheaper in the first place. The price of a game has been static at $60USD for a long time now and I would say we even have it better today with pre-order bonuses from places like Amazon that give you USD$20 gift certificates for pre-ordering a new game. Developers need additional streams of income if they are to survive with the growing costs of development. DLC is a way for gamers to get more out of a game they like, it’s optional and entirely up to you. If you don’t think the core game justifies the price than don’t buy it, don’t complain about the DLC. Same goes for additional services like COD Elite that Activision is implementing to give players additional features that only the truly dedicated players would consider or benefit from.

Video game companies are out to make great products and make the most money they can while balancing the fine line between price and purchase rate. It is not in a company’s best interest to give products away at cheaper prices even though the model of the video game industry is to make the console the loss leader while making money from software licenses and royalties. Nintendo really changed the game by releasing a cheaper system with the Wii and still make money on each console. For the next generation of video game consoles my prediction is that they won’t be as state of the art in order to keep costs low and try to break even as soon as possible. I think this makes sense because the next step in gaming isn’t processing power and graphics, it’s how we interacting and control games.

Traditionally Controlled Games Are Becoming a Thing of The Past

One thing that I have notice from all the games shown at E3 this year is that the traditional control method (twin sticks, 4 face buttons, d-pad and triggers) is being replaced or augmented by a range of new control paradigms. Last year’s E3 saw the introduction of the MS Kinect and PS Move, and this year both companies reaffirmed their commitment to the future of how we will control games.

Now I’m not saying traditional controlled games will be obsolete (they will still be ever present), but I do think developers are thinking of ways to allow people to more easily interact with games in new ways. Seeing the way voice commands are being used in Mass Effect 3 utilizing Kinect, or hearing Bioshock lead developer Ken Levine talk about the ways he will use PS Move in Bioshock Infinite, I see a definite trend of developers taking up the challenge of advancing the way we control games. It is no longer just a gimmick, it is the future of video games.

And I haven’t even mentioned Nintendo yet, with their next console they will continue the path of motion controlled games and will add the next big thing, tablet touch pad controls. They are taking the success of their portable systems and mobiles devices like the iPad/iPhone to create a system that will encourage developers to think of new innovative ways to design games. These new methods of control allow a wider range of people to pick up and instantly understand how to play certain games. It also makes gaming a more involved and fun looking endeavor which is necessary to continue growing the industry.

Nintendo had a true hit with the Wii by innovating the way games are played but their approach had it’s flaws. Nintendo looks like they have learned not to abandon the core gamers by creating a system that developers are excited to work on with powerful processing and graphics capabilities. Hopefully this would lead to more games being released on the Wii U than the Wii and I’m excited to see how games like Assassin’s Creed play on the Wii U.

Also I hope more developers take advantage of the capabilities of the Kinect and PS Move as we are at a point where the technology is there but we just need the games. The key is finding the right mix and making control decisions that make sense, enhancing the gaming experience rather than making it seem gimmicky. From what I’ve seen at E3 this year I feel confident that the industry is moving in the right direction.

P.S. 3D gaming is also here to stay and video games are the perfect medium to get the most out of it. The technology is improving each year and developers are doing a better job of implementing it in their games. It’s time to stop grousing about 3D in video games, if you don’t like it you can still play your games in regular 2D.

E3 2011 Nintendo – 3DS Games Galore and Wii Successor Revealed (Wii U)

 

 

 

At Nintendo’s E3 2011 press conference today Nintendo made a number of surprising announcements, much of which we already knew due to rumours over the last few weeks. But no one predicted the full scope and innovation of Nintendo’s approach to their next console. Appealing to core and casual consumers while maintaining the Wii brand they seem to have satisfied the skeptics doubting Nintendo’s future.

The biggest surprise to me is the use of the current Wii Remotes, it seems multiplayer games will be designed with one person holding the tablet while others use Wii Remotes. People who have had time to demo the system commented on the surprising comfort (light and easy to hold) of the tablet controller and fun while playing the various tech demos showing off new game play ideas and possibilities. Disappointments are the lack of other Wii game announcements (or English ports of Japanese games such as Last Story) or more  third-party games on the 3DS but the conference isn’t over yet and often more information trickles out over the week. Third party game developer support is not a problem for the Wii U with plenty of developers on board intially bringing out ports of 360/PS3 games such as Batman Arkham City and Assassin’s Creed Revelations.

Zelda Games

  • Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Celebration – Orchestra Worldwide Tour
  • Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures – Free for DSi owners
  • Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening – Out on the Nintendo eShop
  • Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword – Out at the end of this year

3DS Games Announced

  • Luigi’s Mansion 2 – Developed by Next Level Games.
  • Super Mario 3D – 3D mario platformer but with 2D gameplay elements.
  • Mario Kart – Underwater and air sequences, Retro Studios helping with development.
  • Kid Icarus Uprising – 3 on 3 multiplayer announced.
  • Star Fox 64 3D
  • Tekken 3D, Animal Crossing 3DS, Super Smash Bros, Lego City Stories.
  • Potential – Kirby, Rhythm Heaven, Paper Mario, Mario Party sequels.

Wii Successor Announced – Wii U

  • SPECS – Touchpad controller 6.2 inch in addition to traditional controls, camera, accelerometer, microphone, speakers, 1080P, HDMI, IBM designed CPU (same architecture as Watson), SD and USB HDD support.
  • Features – Backwards compatible with Wii games and all controllers (Wii Remote, balance board), full HD graphics, video calls, web surfing, stream content to and from tablet controller.
  • Wii U Games Teased – Super Mario Bros Mii, New HD Zelda, Super Smash Brothers, and various tech demos.
  • Third Party Wii U Games – Lego City Stories, Darksiders 2, Batman Arkham City, Tekken, Assassin’s Creed Revelations, Ghost Recon Online, DIRT, Alien Colonial Marines, Metro Last Light and Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge. Various EA Sports games and potentially Battlefield and Army of Two.
  • Onboard Third Party Developers – EA, Ubisoft, Warner Bros Interactive, THQ, Irrational Games, Namco Bandai, Sega and Tecmo Koei.

Nintendo announce next handheld, 3D without glasses.


Translated press release from Nintendo.co.jp:

Nintendo Co., Ltd.(Minami-ward of Kyoto-city, President Satoru Iwata) will launch “Nintendo 3DS”(temp) during the fiscal year ending March 2011, on which games can be enjoyed with 3D effects without the need for any special glasses.

“Nintendo 3DS”(temp) is going to be the new portable game machine to succeed “Nintendo DS series”, whose cumulative consolidated sales from Nintendo amounted to 125million units as of the end of December 2009, and will include backward compatibility so that the software for Nintendo DS series, including the ones for Nintendo DSi, can also be enjoyed.

We are planning to announce additional details at E3 show, which is scheduled to be held from June 15, 2010 at Los Angeles in the U.S.

What we can extrapolate:

It is very likely that it will come out by the end of the year around Nov/Dec, 6 years after the launch of the original DS. The DS launched at the end of November in North American and early December in Japan, the 3DS could follow the same sort of release schedule.

Note that it is going to succeed the Nintendo DS. While it does do 3D we can assume not all games will be in 3D. We can say this because it is backwards compatible with DS games which are all in 2D. To not alienate game developers the system would have to also cater for those who don’t want to develop 3D games.

Able to speculate on Nintendo’s successor to the Wii – Very high chance next console will focus on games in 3D. The problem is whether Nintendo will need people to have 3D televisions or will they do the same thing as with the 3DS and not need 3D glasses.

Summary

  • 3D without glasses on a portable gaming system
  • Backwards compatible with DS/DSi games
  • Working Title – Nintendo 3DS
  • Further announcements at E3.