3DS The good, and the unknown
If you haven't read my blog on the NGP then make sure you do that as well, but let's talk about the 3DS. The 3DS is Nintendo's new Portable, and it's a DS with Gamecube graphics (maybe Wii) and 3D. With the announcement of the NGP and iPhone/tablet games getting 3rd party developer support like Epic and id Tech, the 3DS graphics don't seem as impressive as they were during their E3 announcement, so all they have to stand on is 3D and games. Fortunately the 3DS has games, as you know Nintendo's firsty party is lining up franchise after franchise to make it's way over to the portable, and for once Nintendo finally has great 3rd party developer support. But is 3D enough to put the handheld away from the competition?
3D. 3D is the selling point of the 3DS, no other device let's you play 3D games in the palm of your hand. It's a nice gimmick that makes way for unique game development if developers take the time out to make a 3D game and not just slap it on. Puzzle games come to mind off the back when think of games that will benefit from the 3DS. The 3D drains the battery life of the console, but fortunately there's a slider that let's you dial in the amount of 3D you use, which when off can bring the battery life up to 8 hours. The early titles haven't shown much of what you gain from 3D, but the tech demos have, and we'll just have to wait and see.
Predecessor. The DS is the best selling handheld/console in history (I say handheld, because if we count anything that plays games as a console then phones have to be on the list as well). The DS has sold over 150 million units and counting. All the 3DS has to do is tie into the success of it's predecessor, and they can expect to rack them up for another round of 3D, DS gaming fun.
3DS to 3DS interaction. Street Pass mode lets your 3DS interact with other 3DS in the area, and literally play itself while tucked away in your pocket. The surprise factor of winning a game you didn't even have to play should be interesting.
It comes with stuff. Supposedly the 3DS comes with 2 free games and a 2GB SD card. The
Wii Features. The 3DS has Wii Ware and Motion Controls. On Wii Ware you can buy games and supposedly movies will be thrown into the mix, hopefully in 3D(even though the majority of it is garbage, and the store is awful to navigate, at least you'll be able to play classics). The 3DS also has motion and tilt controls, and with 3D that can lead to some some unique titles.
3D camera. This will be nice Day 1, after that ummmm.
Charging Cradle. That was cute to have instead of a connector.
AR Games. This seems interesting. It's concept is like Eye Pet (PS3) except you play little mini games. If they can go beyond mini games then this will be a nice feature, but so far the game look like those little box internet games where you click on the clown to punch it and it takes you to some advertisement.
Now the worries
I think the 3DS has a lot going against it, and unfortunately it's between a rock and a hard place.
Cell phones and tablets competition. They're games are practically identical to what you get on the current Nintendo DS, and cost $1 - $10 compared to the 3DS rumored $40 - $50. This is a problem. The 3DS has Mario, and Nintendo's other franchises, but every other game can easily be ported over to these devices since they're more than capable of running anything the DS and even 3DS can (minus the 3D). Another problem is there's a cell phone that can already do 3D without glasses, so expect more phones and tablets to come in 2012 taking away Nintendo's only glory.
3D. 3D is the selling point, but how do you show that in commercials? They need to Have SKU's in as many stores as they can by the holiday so people can see and play the device.
Price. $250 is too much for what parent consider a child's toy. It does come with 2 games and a 2GB SD card, but I and many other would rather have $199 over the 2 games and 2GB SD. Nintendo fans will pick it up Day 1, while core gamers will twinkle in over time, while some wait for the inevitable 3DS lite with better battery, giving the platform a better library of games, and a more compact size. Parents however, will look at this price, and say, no billy you're going to have to wait. Which brings me to my next point.
The name and look. Everyone has a DS, and when kids ask for a 3DS parents are going to say, Don't you already have a DS. That's not what you want when selling a new product. Parents are going to look at this like, I can buy this current DS for $100 or I can buy this 3DS for $250...SAVINGS and get the current DS. In Japan the name is fine because everyone buys the new DS no matter what, but America good luck.
Battery Life. This is going to put off a lot of core gamers. 3 - 5 hours sucks especially when it's caused by your main selling point "3D".
NGP causes a double whammy. The NGP has just crowned itself as the hardcore's portable, and while some will eventually come to the 3DS realm, the NGP will be taken away some core market from the 3DS, while cell phones and tablets take away casual. The NGP is a problem, it's everything a console gamer wants in a portable, and if the price is right, if the battery is right (4 - 6 hours is expected), and if the games are right then it's going to be a huge problem for Nintendo this holiday.
Parents. Parents are going to be Nintendo's blockade to selling tons of 3DS like they did with the DS. There are too many variables for them to encounter, and if not enlightened, will be a loss of a sell. Unfortunately most parents are dumb when it comes to games, and that poor child is going to suffer because of it.
With that being said I think the 3DS is going to sell more than the NGP simply because of it's child friendly image, at least until the kids grow up and want a NGP.
That's it. I think the 3DS will be a good platform, but Nintendo has a lot of work to do to make it happen. They need to demonstrate, clean up their message on what makes a 3DS different from a DS, find a way to compete with cell phones and the NGP, get the price down to casual friendly numbers, blow core gamers away at E3 with what's coming out for the holiday. It's just so much, and they don't have much time. I haven't seen one 3DS commercial here in the states and it comes out in a little over a month, that's a problem. Shortages are confirmed, and that's with every launch (I don't get it, but whatever) so I guess they're only selling to the core until the holiday. Anywho it's not going to be all happy days and sunshine for Nintendo this time. They're going to have to get down and work for the 3DS to be a success, and if the Gamecube is anything to go by, they're not going to fight as hard as they should.
But they do have one ace in the hole..........can you say adjustable stylus :)