There have been a lot of “complaints” about the potential 300$ price tag for the Nintendo 3DS. Even if reduced to a 250$ tag, which would follow past trends in pricing, a lot of people still complain that is too high for a traveling gaming machine. Not only do I highly disagree that the pricing is too high, I think the pricing itself is actually a positive move by Nintendo. Is it a smart business move? Yup. But wait, how is that possible? It’s simple really: Nintendo is bringing third parties back into the fold, and is a natural progression of the present “casual friendly” business mantra. It’s also the type of move for progression that only Nintendo has the luxury to make.
Nintendo has captured a massive audience with the Nintendo DS and the Wii. An audience full of a vast majority of casual gamers and soccer moms. An audience that Nintendo is not going to forget completely, but also an audience that is more of a one hit wonder every decade. Casual gamers are casual for a reason. They either don’t have the money to spend on gaming, don’t have a high interest level in it, play games too rarely to really feel it is a worthy way to keep investing once they have their one satisifactory product, and have to really be enticed to ever want to buy another console or gaming machine.
It’s a fact of life, and is why in all likelihood the Kinnect and Playstation Move are not going to be as successful as those companies think they will be. Casuals are casual for a reason – they don’t game a lot and they don’t spend a lot of money of it. They already have a console (and handheld) that entertains them for the few moments they do want to game. Selling them a new product is hard to do, because they already don’t invest a lot of money as it stands. This is why the pricepoint, and capabilities of the Nintendo 3DS, are an amazing direction for Nintendo. It could also mark a shift in the next console debut as well.
The 3DS is a beefy piece of hardware. Featuring enough power to produce xbox and gamecube like graphics, while providing 3D adjustable effect without the need of glasses is a great step forward for handhelds. In a market where the #1 competitor is the iPhone and iPod Touch (same difference for gaming) it all falls in line. Add on that it’s completely backwards compatible and is going to be able to play movies (which the PSP can already do) really shows why this hardware deserves the price.
It’s not just because of what it’s specs and capabilities are that lend to the price being right, it’s what the system symbolizes. Nintendo is clearly trying to bring the big third party names back to their side of the fence, so games like Metal Gear and Call of Duty sell millions on THEIR hardware, which in turn brings Nintendo extra profits. It’s not always easy watching third parties have huge success on competitors hardware when you always have that thought in the back of your mind… “Why can’t they make that for us?”.
The Nintendo 3DS is aimed at one primary audience it’s predecessor wasn’t: The serious gamer. The people like me (there are millions of us) that like visually pleasing games, along with our story, our gameplay, and our new experiences. People who like Assassins’s Creed, Fable, Call of Duty (Damir wants a word with you -Editor), Metal Gear, and the like. People who really enjoy those quality titles that are just not being made for Nintendo’s consoles. Just look at the announced titles already for the 3DS if you want evidence. Third parties are in love with the power and 3D capability the 3DS brings to the industry.
This is a smart business decisions for possibily the greatest video game giant out there. Nintendo already “owns” the casual audience, and it’s a fickle audience that never “sticks” long haul and wont be buying ever single new piece of hardware released. The chances of my mom buying the next Nintendo console and handheld for herself is very slim. It’s a brand new investment into gaming when she is perfectly fine with what she has.
A nice comparison here is the iPhone. It’s great, millions have it, and you know what? More people don’t, because they just want a cell phone that works, and isn’t expensive. That is the “casual” audience. They have their entertainment, and now it’s very clear Nintendo is going back to capture the audience it had for a majority of it’s lifespan pre-Playstation 2 era. They are bringing serious gamers, along with 3rd parties, back to their side of the fence. You know what, that is a brilliant gameplan.
Microsoft, Sony, what can they really do to re-establish themselves with the serious gamer they already cater too? Oh, by ignoring advancements with your already established audience and trying to go back and capture an audience who doesn’t even invest heavily into gaming to begin with by copying Nintendo? Sounds like a great business plan. Well, while you are trying to get people who don’t spend a lot on gaming to buy a product they already have in the Wii but in HD, Nintendo is busy taking the next great leap for gaming in general for the people out there who game every day. The next console they claim will be an even bigger step than the Wii, and with it already confirmed to be in HD, and with the direction of the current 3DS handheld, I expect nothing less of Nintendo than to recapture all that it has lost in the core gaming audience over the years while Microsoft and Sony are still busy trying to capture an audience that is too fickle to control effectively.
In essence, Nintendo, as was stated during the current gen, has the most area to grow and capture more people. They will do just that in the next generation, by claiming back what is has not had for the better part of a decade. The Nintendo 3DS is merely the first step in their plan to bring back the core audience, and it’s price tag is the biggest indicator of all that Nintendo isn’t “just for the family” anymore.