Posted on March 31 2011 by Nathanial Rumphol-Janc
You’d think that with the big push 3DS is giving the idea of games in stereoscopic 3D, Nintendo’s next move in the home console business would be to drive that push even further. But, as Reggie told CNN a few days ago, that isn’t going to be the case. He didn’t exactly elaborate on why this might be the case, but it’s enough to get us wondering. See his exact comment below:
Glasses-free is a big deal. We’ve not said publicly what the next thing for us will be in the home console space, but based on what we’ve learned on 3-D, likely, that won’t be it.
His wording intrigues me for two reasons. One, he says that the fact that 3D won’t be a big feature of the next console comes from “what we’ve learned on 3D,” which suggests to me that there’s something about 3D that Nintendo thinks isn’t right for the home console space. Previously they’ve talked about the lack of a market for 3D displays as an issue, so their hesitance to push 3D might simply boil down to that. I can’t help wondering, however, whether there’s more to it.
After all, most 3D games have never quite reached the iconic status that pretty much every major NES game achieved – not to say that none of them have done so, Ocarina of Time being the best example. Nintendo has shown through its renewed attention to the Super Mario Bros. series that this classic arcade-style approach still rules the industry, and last year we saw a slew of similar side-scrolling software that carried the holiday season. Maybe Nintendo’s decided to invest more in those areas than in advancing 3D gameplay? Of course, this is just a shot in the dark – and not one that even I find particularly likely. (Offhand, I think that trying to keep consumer costs low like they did with the Wii is a much better guess.)
The other interesting element of the comment is that he isn’t entirely committed to that answer – he says it’s only “likely” that the next console won’t capitalize on 3D. Is development of the new hardware not far enough along that Reggie can give a dedicated yes or no in terms of what its features will be? Or is he simply being vague for PR and accuracy purposes? With rumors of new Nintendo hardware already on the horizon, not to mention that this is the Wii’s fifth year on the market, my gut tells me to go with ambiguity, but with Reggie equally noncommittal about the appearance of an upcoming Nintendo console in the near future I honestly don’t know what to believe.
The choice to forgo 3D for the next console also strikes me as interesting because, hypothetically, should Nintendo’s 3DS really establish stereoscopic display as the norm for handheld gaming, what will that do for 3D demand in the console space? From my own personal experiences with the 3DS so far not only have I found 3D viewing to be the “more natural” way to see the software but I also found it weird to transition back to 2D software on my Wii and DS. After the 3DS settles into the customer base, will they be able to “go back” to 2D displays? I suppose in a sense they already have to given that the Wii doesn’t output in 3D (not to mention that most people don’t watch TV in 3D), but it’s still an interesting concern and kind of questions whether 3D is really going to be a sustaining innovation like the Wii’s motion controls or the DS’s Touch Screen or just a temporary tech craze that gets passed over later on – and what it is exactly that Nintendo has “learned” about it.