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3DS dev costs could match Wii

Iwata talks 3DS development, digital distribution and 3D voice chat

The cost of developing video games for the Nintendo 3DS could be similar to that of the Wii in some cases, according to comments made by Nintendo president and CEO Satoru Iwata.

Answering a series of analyst questions at an investor event at the recently concluded E3, Iwata was asked directly about development costs for first and third party games.

"Because the visual capabilities of Nintendo 3DS are more powerful than the existing Nintendo DS, if you are going to take full advantage of the graphics capability of Nintendo 3DS, the development cost is also expected to rise," answered Iwata.

"Therefore, if developers decide to try and maximise the graphical powers of the system, then the cost would be more expensive than what it is currently for Nintendo DS and may potentially approach the cost of developing Wii software", he added.

Iwata was keen to emphasise that this would be the higher end of the budgetary scale and that it was possible to make games at a much lower cost.

"I think it’s OK to see a broad range in development costs from title to title. I believe it’s possible for developers who have great ideas to be able to find ways to develop those ideas at a relatively low cost and make the resulting game a hit due essentially to the quality of the ideas," said Iwata.

Iwata also clarified that the 3D aspect of games required very little additional work and "does not make much of a difference in terms of development costs".

Also in the Q&A, Iwata confirmed that the 3DS would support digital distribution of some kind, but implied that it would be notably different to the current DSiWare service.

"Up until now, much of the digital distribution focus has been on more of a 'pull type' where the consumer goes out, gets the content and pulls it to themselves. With Nintendo 3DS, we’re looking at a model that would be more focused around the 'push type,' where we’re able to push information or content out to the device," said Iwata.

"And with a model like that, what it means is that because the consumer doesn’t have to actively seek out the information themselves, it gives us a venue for creative new ideas of our company or of our developers to reach consumers much more easily," he added.

The only online service so far announced for the 3DS is the ability for the console to download updates and message from Nintendo when in sleep mode. The console will also swap game data between passing consoles in a similar manner to the wireless communication modes in DS games such as Nintendogs and Animal Crossing: Wild World.

Finally, in a separate Forbes interview, Iwata hinted at the possibility of 3D video chat for the 3DS - although did not confirm it. The 3DS is already known to be able to take still photos in 3D, using two external 0.3 megapixel cameras.

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