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3DS project lead says no to cheap games

Hideki Konno "not worried about competing at a price point level"

Nintendo's Hideki Konno, project lead on the 3DS, has said that Nintendo isn't interested in making cheap titles for the handheld to compete with App Store prices.

Echoing sentiments expressed by both Reggie Fils-Aime and Satoru Iawata earlier this year, Konno told Gamasutra that his company was too heavily invested in quality to try and match dollar price points for games.

"So now in terms of one dollar games, or free games, or whatever that is out there in the market, I mean, really, we're not going to be competing with that," said Konno.

"We're not going to try to match that; we're just going to continually strive to not just maintain, but increase, the quality of the entertainment that we're providing, and let it sort itself out. Again, we're not worried about competing at a price point level."

Part of that reasoning, Konno argues, is that releasing franchise iterations at low price points means that those games have to be limited in scope or risk devaluing full-priced titles.

"Now of course as a customer, if somebody said to me, 'Hey, we've got Call of Duty on your portable device and it's only going to cost you 100 yen,' yeah, I'd be super stoked, really excited about that."

"And I'd be really excited to see a great game at a really cheap price, but I just don't think that you could make a game that's immersive and as big as, let's say Call of Duty, or any other large title, and sell it at that price point; it's just not possible.

"The only way that you're going to get a game at that price point is if it's a limited version with limited levels or something. They're going to have to reduce it to sell at that price. So that other game - because the content is valuable - it's still going to be a viable product at a higher price point," Konno continued.

"If we went out and created one of our titles - a big title for Nintendo - and we decided to sell it at, like, say 100 yen, how many do we have to sell to get back our investment? That number's insane. It's just incredible, right?

"As a game developer I've put my heart into what I create, and I'm hoping that what I'm putting out there is something that people will be engaged by and entertained by. And as a consumer, I want the same thing. If I go and I see a game that interests me and I think I want to play it, I don't mind the fact that I have to pay a reasonable price for it.

"I'm not trying to say that I think games on cell phones are a bad thing; I'm not trying to say that they're worthless, or have no value at all. I'm just saying that they're just different."

Neither Konno or Nintendo are alone in the position that cheaper games devalue the experience and promote throwaway development - both Donald Mustard of Chair Entertainment and Keith Burgun of 100 Rogues developer Dinofarm Games have both expressed similar opinions in recent GamesIndustry.biz interviews.

The 3DS' download store, which replaces the DSiWare system, will be known as the eshop. Payments will be made in real-world currencies rather than in bespoke points. Following original concerns over a delay to the system's release, Nintendo has now confirmed that the eshop will be operational at launch, selling DSiWare and ported GameBoy titles.

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Latest comments (4)

James Prendergast Research Chemist 8 years ago
I think there's a difference between "cheaper games" and "price fixing all games at the same price point". Seriously, i always thought that the majority of DS and GBA games were overpriced when compared with the quality and size of console and PC games. Their price point just made no sense when they would never cost as much to make and yet the market size for those games was huge. The 3DS is running this stance again, all games, no matter how long, deep, complex, 2D or 3D (game engine) are around the same (now elevated) price.

It's not good for the industry or the consumer.
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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 8 years ago
Is nintendo that worried about cheap games. I have to admit, expensive games are really hurting my pocket and I rarely buy a brand new game at full price. i usually wait for a price drop. Cheap priced games dont necessarily make for bad games. I just think its all about good game design and not focusing on making the next blockbuster hit, expecting to rake in millions and then fail. I honestly think developers should look to shave development costs and I do feel many development teams are too big. Part of good game design should also be an efficiant way of creating it. I think a lower price in games could benefit the industry as consumers will buy more copies. But this depends on how developers/publishers approach this. I just know that at 60$ very few games are worth it and if I spend the money i usually want a game with loads of content, hours of game play and good game design, like mass effect 2. DS games are too pricey. I bought the console but only have like 10 games. Its just too expensive. id rather spend money on a console game then a DS game because many console games are at the same price of a DS game.

I agree that console game should adjust prices depending on development costs and game content. I would never buy a game like bullet storm at 60$, simly because the single player campagn lasts around 7 hours. And they announced DLC, just days after release. So how much are you really paying for the "full" game? However a game like Dragon Age Origins or Mass Effect 2, I would gladly pay more. Dragon Age: Ultimate addition can be found at 50$ brand new, and because it has all the downloadable content on disc, it is worth it. I clocked in at 150 hours of game play and still want to go through it again. Most vs Fighting games Id pay 30$ for.

Portable consoles need a price drop, Id price most games at 16.99$ to 19.99$. At least me, i know I would be spending on DS games if that were the case.
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Failure to adapt and failure to provide content in the current Dsi shop. Only 75% of it is used. The free section is like abandoned! If they were not supporting it in the beginning why make a section at all.

Lets no forget that the payment distribution is pretty wacky in the industry. Price fixing only gurantess the developers are getting a fair cut. Adjust prices depending on development costs and game content maybe be more complex then it sounds.
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Benjamin Schare8 years ago
I'm inclined to agree with Rick, the high cost of portable gaming is what got me out of it; I had purchased a PSP near launch, and ending up buying no more than a handful of games, because, for essentially the same price I could get a console release.

While there is a strong market for portable gaming, Nintendo needs to be wary of the threat that iOS gaming imposes.
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