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Nintendo: "We don't want to walk away" from 3D gaming

Nintendo: "We don't want to walk away" from 3D gaming

Wed 28 Aug 2013 3:21pm GMT / 11:21am EDT / 8:21am PDT
HardwarePublishing

Nintendo's Scott Moffitt insists that the new 2DS doesn't represent backpedaling, notes that it's all about reaching huge audience at $129

In light of the announcement of the Nintendo 2DS today, we sat down with the company's executive vice president of sales and marketing Scott Moffitt to talk all about the new entry in the portable space. In this exclusive interview, conducted by USgamer's Jeremy Parish on behalf of GamesIndustry International, we find out who the 2DS is really for and how it fits into the increasingly crowded mobile and handheld market. Interestingly, we also see that Nintendo remains confident in 3D gaming despite the fact that its 2DS dispenses with it altogether. At the end, Moffitt even takes a dig at Sony, saying Vita's sales show that Nintendo's approach is the one that's actually working.

Here's the full Q&A. Enjoy!

Q: As someone who's made a pretty significant investment in digital purchases for 3DS, I feel there may be some games that work better on 2DS than on 3DS -- Virtual Console, for instance. But the 3DS games that have 3D functionality, I'd rather keep them on the 3DS. It's not really possible to do that...

Scott Moffitt: It's not tied to an account. Yeah. We haven't solved that yet.

Q: Are you working on solving it? It sounds like, to date, Nintendo has been pretty content to keep things as they are.

Scott Moffitt: If you look at the account system, the network ID system that exists now on Wii U, that's an effort for us to move beyond a device-centric approach to an account-centric approach. But we haven't done it on the handheld side of the business at this point. We hear that feedback. We hear that criticism, or whatever you want to call it, from time to time. We're not blind to it. But it's not something we've solved.

Q: I feel like this device forces the issue.

Scott Moffitt: Yeah. I would just challenge… If you have a 3DS and you enjoy playing it there on a bigger screen… I wouldn't think we would expect you to be part of the buyer base.

"A lot of it is driven by wanting to achieve a price point that is more accessible for consumers...Removing the 3D capability allowed us to get to a better price point"

Q: Well, like I said, if I'm playing NES games or New Super Mario Bros., that sort of thing, I can already tell just by holding this...

Scott Moffitt: It feels more familiar to you?

Q: Playing those games on 3DS, the D-pad and button placement isn't ideal. So I could see some people wanting to carry over part of their library to this and have dual devices, the way you can own an iPhone and an iPad and still share content between those devices.

Scott Moffitt: Yeah. I guess all I can say is that you weren't directly in our crosshairs as we were assessing the market potential for this initiative. You never can guess who's going to respond to a new piece of hardware.

But I think our expectation was that we were primarily trying to address the value barrier that might exist for some consumers to playing a 3DS. They could be DS owners that haven't yet upgraded to the 3DS because of price and because they love playing their old DS games. It could be young kids just entering the video game market, and parents not wanting to buy them a $200 gaming system. Now we're much closer to $100, which makes it much more affordable for them. I think that was probably the audience we expected or intended to design the unit for. But I think it's good feedback.

Q: Will you still be selling the original DS?

Scott Moffitt: The original DS? Yes, the original DS, that's $99. The DS still exists, so it's really four [items in the lineup]. Certainly our emphasis and our priority is on the 3DS platform. That's where we've made our commitment. That's our future. So we are not developing gaming content for DS at this point. Our resources are focused on 3DS. But that'll still be in the lineup, yes.

Q: I was wondering if you could talk a bit about the form factor of the system. It actually seems kind of surprisingly large. It's even bigger than an XL. It's definitely thinner, but still not super thin.

1

Who knew that 'Plays games in 2D' would be box art worthy one day?

Scott Moffitt: It's lighter weight, though.

Q: Yeah. I was wondering if you could just talk a bit about the thinking behind the specific hardware layout and configuration.

Scott Moffitt: A lot of it is driven by wanting to achieve a price point that is more accessible for consumers. The 3DS screen is a fairly expensive piece of equipment that's built into the system. Removing the 3D capability allowed us to get to a better price point. The hinged clamshell design is also an issue.

There's a carrying case that's sold that allows you to pop that into a backpack or throw it in a suitcase if you're on the road or getting in the car or if you just want to carry it with you. That, we think, is probably the predominant way that consumers might carry it around. I don't think kids would carry it around in their pocket that often now anyway. I think that's what went into the design. How can we achieve the price point in the most economical manner?

Q: So for handhelds, you're saying portability isn't as much as a factor as it used to be?

Scott Moffitt: No, I think portability is still a factor. My point is just that I don't think kids fold it and put it in their pocket very often. This shouldn't be any less portable than a base 3DS or a DS today. But portability is clearly important.

Q: You referred to this as a "slate" form factor. Could you talk a little more about that?

Scott Moffitt: It's molded open, so it's not a clamshell design like we've had in previous years. Certainly that form factor is reminiscent of some of the products we've had in our lineup in the early days. It's a form factor that we've sold and launched and had great success with before. I don't think there's anything more that inspired it other than that we've done these kinds of systems before. We know how to create them, we know how to design them, we know how to make them work.

Q: The removal of the 3D visualization -- is that an admission that 3D wasn't really that big a deal to begin with?

Scott Moffitt: Not at all. Clearly our development efforts all include 3D games. Our installed base, we have eight million units installed. If 3D wasn't selling and wasn't part of our future, we wouldn't be seeing and enjoying the robust sales we have on 3DS right now. I think you know that the 3DS is the number one gaming platform on the market. We're having a very good year with 3DS. Our games continue to sell extremely well. Our forecast for pretty much everything we've launched this year has surprised us on the positive side. We've been very happy with the 3DS part of our business. This is really all about addressing that next opportunity in the US market.

"There's a lot of great 3D experiences that gamers have come to love. We don't want to walk away from that at all"

Q: Right. What I'm saying is not that the 3DS isn't a viable platform, because obviously it's doing really well. But the 3D aspect of it specifically... That's what was trumpeted at the rollout of the system. “Hey, you don't have to wear glasses, you've got 3D.” But here's the same system and the same games, minus the 3D. The message that it seems to be sending to me is, “Yeah, it's fine, you don't need the 3D for these games. They're still fun.”

Scott Moffitt: Not at all. I'd say that our fan feedback, gamer feedback, has been that they very much enjoy 3D as a feature. Games like Super Mario 3D Land play fabulously well in 3D. There's a lot of great 3D experiences that gamers have come to love. We don't want to walk away from that at all.

They also will play well in 2D, and it allows us to get to a price point that we couldn't get to with the 3D screen. If we can get to that in another way... If you're asking me if we could get to a price point of $129 with 3D functionality, it didn't look like it was possible. That's the reason. It's less about wanting to have 3D in and it's more about trying to get to the value price point that's going to allow us to open up that next part of the market.

Q: I get that, but the outside perception may be that you guys are backpedaling on something that you presented as a really major feature for the system. There will be people who regard it that way, who would look at this and say, “Why did they even bother putting 3D in the system in the first place?”

Scott Moffitt: People may see it that way. I just think it's a misread of the situation. I don't think that's an accurate characterization of our commitment to 3D and our belief that it adds something new and exciting to the world of gaming.

Q: I feel the design of this device is somewhat compromised by the need to maintain consistency with the 3DS' two screens. I think people will look at a device this size and this form factor and expect something more like a Galaxy phone or an iPad mini. They expect a lot more screen real estate than you're actually giving them. This device obviously doesn't exist in a vacuum. There will be these outside factors that people are going to be weighing against. Obviously this is cheaper than a Galaxy phone, but...

Scott Moffitt: I understand your point. I guess I appreciate that perspective. The big difference, to me, is that with a phone, you're making a compromise the other way. You're making a compromise in button control and the ability to play games in a manner that's been pretty successful, pretty popular over many years. You're asking, could we make the whole thing a touch screen and use all the real estate for the screen? That would negate that magic of all the things that we've done with creating great button control and great experiences with button control.

Q: So is this as close as we can expect to see Nintendo get to the tablet market?

Scott Moffitt: [chuckles] Well, it's not at all inspired by… I guess some would make that comparison. But it's not meant to be a tablet. It's not a response to a tablet at all. Again, the idea is, how can we continue to expand the world of portable gaming? One of the ways to expand it, as we saw in the DS history, was creating a more affordable price point that opens up a new part of the market. That's the real intention.

The form factor fell out of that, of that design specification, to create a gaming device that plays all of our great content, that doesn't lose any of the StreetPass or SpotPass or all the other fun features that people enjoy with the 3DS, but create it at a price point. Our hardware designers came up with this design. So I'd be surprised if there's any connection or any inspiration from the tablet market.

Q: At the same time, I still can see a similarity. I look at the original DS, and I look at the existing tablet market, and a big part of the appeal for both is that they have offered experiences that aren't strictly video games. Will you be encouraging developers to take 3DS software in a direction more like applications and that sort of thing?

Scott Moffitt: There's already some of that today.

Q: Some, but not nearly as many as there were for the DS.

Scott Moffitt: Yeah, and certainly not as many as there are for an iPhone. There are non-game entertainment experiences. Nintendo Video is one good example, the ability to access and play [videos]... Those kinds of experiences, I think, are great. We're a game company, we're an entertainment company, so I think… If we have an hour of consumers' time and they want some entertainment, they want some enjoyment from one of our games, we'd rather they play a game than an application. But certainly the ability to access video or other entertainment content exists on the platform.

Q: Will we see any special software for it? You said there's no Pokémon bundle, but...

"Sony I believe seems to have a different kind of strategy... clearly the PS Vita's sales wouldn't suggest that they've found something that we haven't discovered"

Scott Moffitt: The launch date is coincidental... The thinking behind that is that with new software, we'd like to have other news around it. That's going to be a massive hardware driver. We don't want anyone to not be able to play Pokémon X and Y because they haven't bought the hardware. If price was a barrier for some of those people, now we've opened up the door for them to say, “Okay, great, I can play the first Pokémon for 3DS on this new device.”

Q: I look at this and I definitely see some similarities in terms of layout and the overall form factor with the Wii U GamePad. Isn't that a bit of a missed opportunity? Shouldn't one device be able to work as the portable system and as the Wii U GamePad?

Scott Moffitt: The Wii U GamePad is intrinsically tied to the console. It was never intended as a portable device. It does allow, because of its form factor and portability, for interesting gameplay within the living room. But it's really meant to be in-home. These are designed from the ground up to be played in-home also -- we know there's a lot of in-home DS play and 3DS play - but also to be portable, to go wherever you want them.

We do think that the type of gaming experiences that consumers want are different between at-home gaming occasions and away-from-home gaming occasions. Away from home, you're not going to grab a bag of Doritos and a big drink and sit there for three hours. When you're away from home you're going to play shorter games, and so we think that with different experiences, the form factor and the game design should all reflect that, that belief. And I think they do.

Q: Well, I'm specifically thinking about how Sony is using the Vita as their equivalent of the GamePad.

Scott Moffitt: Yeah. Commenting specifically on that, Sony I believe seems to have a different kind of strategy. They believe that the away-from-home gaming occasion and the at-home gaming occasion are pretty similar in that way, and that what people want outside the home is to continue the play of their home games. We just don't believe that. So we have a different belief -- a different strategy -- as far as what we believe consumers want. It doesn't mean one is right or wrong, but clearly the PS Vita's sales wouldn't suggest that they've found something that we haven't discovered.

Jeremy Parish is Games Editor of USgamer.net, a sister site to GamesIndustry International, and the US consumer flagship of Gamer Network. Read his analysis of today's Nintendo announcements here.

19 Comments

Caleb Hale Journalist

155 231 1.5
I seriously thought the 2DS was a joke when I first saw it. Maybe I'd need to get it in my hands to get the full effect, but it looks like someone's rough draft design actually made it all the way to production.

Posted:A year ago

#1

Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 942 0.7
I can see buying a 2DS for a small kid or my son. For myself I still prefer the original one. And its great that nintendo will still offer it. But this is great for kids. Knowing how kids treat things its also cheaper too. Kids tend to break the hinges on the folding screen and the 3D visuals arent really appreciated by kids. I also like that both screens are closer together. All in all a great piece of hardware. And anyone who starts flaming this hand held clearly has no understanding on who its aimed at. Finally it also offers a cheaper alternative to casual gamers or people who simply dont want to spend to much on a hand held.

Posted:A year ago

#2

Ryan Leonski

25 7 0.3
Oh man... I really liked the design of the DS series with the clam shell. This makes no sense to me in terms of what the systems lineage is. I mean even in terms of game design there were certain games that utilized the folding functionality, games like Layton and Zelda. I was hoping for a product designed more like the DSi with it's sexy matte plastic and beautiful buttons.

I get that I'm not the audience, but I'm a Nintendo fan and when they do an upgrade that I like I usually upgrade. I upgraded from the DS to the DS Lite then to the DSi because the form factors and then the addition of the Nintendo shop were value to me.

I'm wondering how much those hinges actually cost now.

Posted:A year ago

#3

Ralph Tricoche Studying MA, CUNY

31 66 2.1
Popular Comment
We have 6 3DS in my home and 4 of those are for children which never use 3D. Yes, there is a market for this.

Posted:A year ago

#4

Jesse Miller Staff Writer, PixlBit

7 19 2.7
@Rick you hit the nail on the head with this. People are getting really upset over this new product in the 3DS family, but what they don't get is that it isn't marketed to them. At that lower price point and with that more durable form, this is designed specifically for children. Remember, the 3D isn't supposed to be used by young kids, so Nintendo was potentially harming sales by not having a 2D only version of the system. If I had a child old enough (my two week old just wouldn't appreciate this) I'd be more inclined to spend $130 on this non-clamshell version than more on a classic or XL. Kids treat these things like garbage, and they aren't carrying them around in their pockets either. These go in backpacks and bags.

It also doesn't hurt that it's coming out the same day as Pokemon X/Y. Again, as a parent, this is the system I'm buying for my 5-9 year old. And it's just in time for Christmas.

Posted:A year ago

#5

Jesse Miller Staff Writer, PixlBit

7 19 2.7
It's not so much the hinges as it is the separate molds of plastic in addition to the hinges. You can cut costs dramatically with this much more simplified and solid form.

Posted:A year ago

#6
I can certainly see the reason for the 2DS however I was a bit ambivalent about the design too however apparently it's comfortable to use (from early reviews) so maybe my fears are unjustified. I wonder what the battery is like?

Posted:A year ago

#7
This is *all* about price. Its only $129 for an effective 3DS console - that is damned cheap. Apart from the kids, I have had a few people try my 3DS and just not been able to get their heads around the 3D at all.

I think this is going to sell very, very well. Stock shortages for sure for Xmas.

Posted:A year ago

#8

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing

1,138 1,178 1.0
This must be one of my all time favorites when it comes to "say one thing but do the other" moments. Plus Microsoft is no longer alone in the "wildest backtrack of 2013" competition.

Posted:A year ago

#9

Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd

1,020 1,467 1.4
@ Klaus I don't see how? The 3DS is still the mainline model, and they always encouraged people to play those games in 2D if they prefer. They are still developing games with features that are really neat in 3D, with their big holiday release A Link Between Worlds being an obvious example.

Posted:A year ago

#10

Eoin Moran Studying Bachelor of Engineering, University of Melbourne

35 32 0.9
Cheers for forcing the account system Jeremy. Easily the worst part of the 3DS experience

Posted:A year ago

#11
As someone who bought a 3DS XL with five titles, only to lose everything after forgetting my carrying case in a taxi two weeks later, I've wanted to buy another one but couldn't justify the cost.

Now that my DS Lite is on its last legs, I also need to find a replacement for my kids. The 2DS fits the bill perfectly and it's cheap enough that I might even consider getting one for each of my sons.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Andy Grimbal on 29th August 2013 2:08am

Posted:A year ago

#12

Patrick Frost QA Project Monitor

400 196 0.5
Is everyone going to ignore the response to being questioned about unified accounts? For me, this is the headline issue of the article as it shows that Nintendo are still fantastically slow at implementing anything that we regard as a standard in the industry.

The 3DS has been out for 2 and a half years now and their teams haven't found the time? The Wii U was released with something that resembled a unified system but in reality is console bound. Nintendo has had the best part of 10 years of evidence on how to achieve this kind of system and are still shying away from meeting something that is a standard consumer requirement to feel safer about purchasing digitally.

Posted:A year ago

#13

James Prendergast Research Chemist

735 432 0.6
@ Ryan Leonski:

Oh man... I really liked the design of the DS series with the clam shell. This makes no sense to me in terms of what the systems lineage is.

Actually, it's quite clever as a piece of design: The 3DS is three dimensional in its design and operation (folding, angled tilt, etc) whereas the 2DS is a flat surface and a single piece. This contrast fits in well with the name and helps to differentiate it in the consumer's mind from the 3DS version of the console innards it's forking from. Unlike the Wii -> WiiU.

Also, if you think about the system's lineage - it's born directly from those old Game&Watch releases as well as the Gameboy series. The Game&Watch had both single slab and clamshell physical designs but no ability to input a new game title or other software functionality whereas the Gameboy had boy vertical and horizontal layouts (maybe it also had a folding version? I don't recall one) as well as the ability to play different titles and other software functionality.

It makes perfect sense to me.

Posted:A year ago

#14

Saehoon Lee Founder & CEO, Pixellore

60 41 0.7
Well, I am sold. I am going to get one for my daughter. There must be some other people like me.

Posted:A year ago

#15

Adam Campbell Associate Producer, Miniclip Ltd

1,184 979 0.8
@James

The GBA SP had a foldable design.

Posted:A year ago

#16

Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd

1,020 1,467 1.4
@ Adam I assume he means the Micro.

Posted:A year ago

#17

James Prendergast Research Chemist

735 432 0.6
@ Nicholas - I was also thinking of the Advance as well. :)

@ Adam - Yes, I remember that one now. Thanks! :)

Posted:A year ago

#18

Bill Garrison Studying Student, DigiPen Institute of Technology

69 89 1.3
"that what people want outside the home is to continue the play of their home games. We just don't believe that."
Except when hiring Robin Williams to sell the 3DS version of Ocarina of Time.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Bill Garrison on 31st August 2013 9:07am

Posted:A year ago

#19

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