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GTA Chinatown Wars May Pave the Way for M-Rated Content On the DS 54

Posted by Soulskill
from the enough-pokemon dept.
The recently released Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars is one of only a handful of mature-rated titles for the Nintendo DS, so the industry is watching closely to see if the traditionally family-friendly market can support such titles. While sales have not been stellar, they haven't been terrible either, easily outperforming previous M-rated titles. If they continue to improve, it's possible we'll start seeing a more consistent effort for "serious" games on Nintendo's portable console. "In the end, Singer said Nintendo hopes that the sales story of Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars will be an encouraging one for game publishers. 'I think strategically, this is a very important game because it helps send the message that great M-rated content can come to the platform and will find a home.'"
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GTA Chinatown Wars May Pave the Way for M-Rated Content On the DS

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  • by meist3r (1061628) on Sunday April 19, 2009 @07:20AM (#27635285)
    I am always astonished how much fuss is made around how the DS or the Wii are deemed "family friendly" consoles. For the DS it boils down to a certain market segment that used to be exclusively construed from kids and teenagers. Now that middle aged housewives have got a literal grip on the gaming market of course the entire perception shifts. Over a decade ago when I was much younger and got my first gameboy that was a "toy" nothing more, nothing less. Nowadays videogames have turned into an entirely different category and the very same device can act as a simple "toy" for some and as more mature entertainment vehicle for others. Since Nintendo was always one of the companies that made their money by specifically appealing to the "toy" crowd (they still do) they became associated with that low age low maintainance demographics. What people won't realize is that just as gamers have grown up so did games. M titles will be on all platforms and are merely a logical step. That it took Nintendo so long to jump it's own over-protective shadow is a money laden unsolved mystery to me. Maybe know that they realize how little the Wii can actually compete with the HD platforms they open their portfolio to new markets a little more.
    • by KDR_11k (778916) on Sunday April 19, 2009 @08:37AM (#27635659)

      There's always a large supply of young and mature (I mean the kind who's too mature to think blood explosions are funny) people who could become gamers with the right game. In fact Nintendo is now winning precisely by expanding their appeal to these people with more game variety. The people who actually grew up with games and now demand M ratings are a minority, some grew up with them but lapsed, others outgrew the age where violence seems like a good part of a game and many didn't have games in their own childhood and still need to be introduced to gaming for the first time. [url=]The comic book industry tried to grow up along with its fans too[/url].

      That the Wii can't compete with the HD consoles visually is not an accident or a result of weakness, had they wanted to they could have made a machine that'll easily go head to head with them (they did last gen without breaking a sweat/loss per console and they had more than enough spare cash to afford R&D). They didn't. They analyzed the market and determined that the people who actually demand HD graphics before they're willing to purchase a game are few, many people, even the regular gamers, don't put so much emphasis on graphics that a good game with last gen graphics can't sell to them. Additionally last gen graphics are significantly cheaper (AAA games are 2.5 times as expensive on the HD consoles as on last gen systems) and it's a lot more profitable to innovate (much easier when you've got to invest less per attempt and can actually accept a few failures if you have to) and find new ways to appeal to people who haven't been appealed to before. Of course that didn't start with the Wii, the first experiment was the DS which is now the best system of the current generation hands down (and when it was launched people predicted its doom at the hands of the PSP because the PSP has better graphics). After the test run succeeded they went full scale on it with the Wii and it succeeded, as expected.

      • by KDR_11k (778916)

        Aw shit, too confused by the tons of different formats every single comment system feels the need to invent (I've seen systems that reversed the label and URL placement in their tags...) so here's the link clickable for the people who can't be arsed to select that and hit "go to URL" [].

      • That the Wii can't compete with the HD consoles visually is not an accident or a result of weakness, had they wanted to they could have made a machine that'll easily go head to head with them

        I seem to remember it being explained like this: The sensor bar for the Wii Remote needed to fit next to the TV. Therefore, the Wii console had to be physically small enough to fit next to the TV and not produce too much heat when kept in a partly enclosed TV cabinet. And the most powerful hardware that was available to Nintendo at the size and heat dissipation points Nintendo wanted (size of three DVD keep cases, 20 watts) was an overclocked GameCube with more RAM and a USB controller.

        • by KDR_11k (778916)

          The cable on the sensor bar is about as long as the video cable on the 360 so I don't buy that explanation, the big, fat, hot systems can't be much further from the TV either and usually go into the cabinet below it. What seems more plausible is that they've followed the strategy they have mentioned so often [] which also includes stepping back the traditional values that have overshot the consumer and in this case those are the graphics (as evidenced by the increased system prices of the HD consoles to get an

          • My 360 is closer to my telly than my Wii is.

            Quite honestly, I think Nintendo simply recognized the fact that both the N64 and the Gamecube mainly played first-party games. Quite honestly, the only devs I can think of that really developed *for* any of those platforms were Rare and Factor 5. So, if they're not going to be attracting third party studios, why bother building a monster machine to attract them?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by interkin3tic (1469267)

        There's always a large supply of young and mature (I mean the kind who's too mature to think blood explosions are funny) people who could become gamers with the right game. In fact Nintendo is now winning precisely by expanding their appeal to these people with more game variety. The people who actually grew up with games and now demand M ratings are a minority, some grew up with them but lapsed, others outgrew the age where violence seems like a good part of a game and many didn't have games in their own childhood and still need to be introduced to gaming for the first time.

        Wanting mature content doesn't exactly boil down to mindless violence in games, much as wanting to watch mature movies doesn't boil down to pointless violence. I don't need gratuitous violence, I just don't want to be limited in what games I play.

        It would be one thing if nintendo were just shying away from blood and sex, but the games that dominate the wii and DS are more than that, they're focused at children, they're very simple. Animal crossing, wii fit, mario kart. Super mario galaxy was much easier

        • by KDR_11k (778916)

          They aren't aimed at kids (kids can deal with a lot of difficulty and very long games because they have the time, many kids played Contra back in the day, I grew up on Gradius and R-Type), they're aimed at people who aren't veteran gamers yet. That's the whole point of the Wii, recruiting new gamers. Also I'm not exactly sure how many games actually handle mature themes maturely, most still involve tons of blood and violence that would turn away older people.

          BTW, Galaxy was easier than SMS because SMS was f

          • Besides, games on all platforms are getting easier all the time.

            After watching my 11 year old daughter sit down with a brand new copy of Pokemon: Platinum or whatever the new one is, and the strat guide, I went off on an 'In my day....' diatribe.

            One of the things I mentioned was the lack of or strat guides in my day; you figured it out, or you quit. Hell, I tried beating QfG 4 for YEARS before I finally found out, through the magic of the Intarwebs, that the game shipped with a story-killing b

    • by Haoie (1277294)

      I'd say at least a good part of the DS's success came from titles like Brain Training.

      And face it, not too many kiddies are keen on that!!

    • I too, laugh when people say the Wii and DS are "family friendly", albeit for slightly different reasons. As for the Wii and DS having a small number of M rated games out or coming out, it doesn't really signify a shift in Nintendo's strategy. They had a handful of exclusive games for the Gamecube (Killer 7 for example) which were M rated.

      Truth be told, I'm not finding the Wii all that family family (or the DS for that matter). When you're trying to share your hobby (gaming) with a 5 year old boy, a 6 ye

  • Yes (Score:2, Informative)

    by ZankerH (1401751)
    The DS needs more games period. Any improvement in this area is welcome.
    • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sparckus (1158609) on Sunday April 19, 2009 @07:27AM (#27635317)
      More decent tiles you mean, there's been plenty of shite getting churned out in the past year or two.
      • by KDR_11k (778916)

        There's also a shitload of great games that came out for the system in that timespan, in fact I'd say more than on the home consoles.

        • by grumbel (592662)

          Metacritic gives 96 titles over 80% for the PS3 while only 76 for the DS. There also happen to be 621 DS titles listed, while only 319 PS3 titles.

          The "to much shit and not much good stuff" is a very real problem for a gamer with a Nintendo consoles. Of course, their demographic aren't traditional gamers and might not care about the same qualities as gamers do, so it might be a non-issue for Nintendo.

          • by KDR_11k (778916)

            In my experience review sites generally use a lower scale for portable games so a game of equal quality will score lower. In fact I suspect the high GTA score is related to the game being almost like the console versions and thus getting scored like one of them and ending up much higher than other games on the system. Of course the 360 has 139 games with a Metacritic score of 80 or higher and I can't even find more than 5 games (3 of which are XBLA downloadables) I really like on the system... The list read

      • by linguizic (806996)
        Oh most definitely! I bought my DS for my commute only to find that most of the games are cheesy little kids games that don't even take full advantage of the DS's graphics capability. Now I just leave it at home with my kids and chat with the regulars on my shuttle.
    • by Orphis (1356561)
      The big problem is that publishers don't want to publish any new titles on DS because of the last bad Christmas sales. All the DS projects in my company have been halted, our publisher don't want to take any risk on DS. On the other hand, this is good for us, we now have the chance to develop games for Wii, PS3 and Xbox. This is more fun for us, developers :)
    • by Mooga (789849)

      There are MANY good games out for the DS, they just aren't violent. The DS lacks FPSs because it really can't do them well. However it has many great Platformers and Puzzle Games. It also has a lot of J/RPGs even if those aren't too much to my liking.

      The DS has plenty of titles aimed for us older gamers... they just aren't all blood and guts.

      The PSP is the system that needs more games. I think I can count games worth plating on a single hand. All the PSP has going for it is an "adult" image... and no

      • " The DS lacks FPSs because it really can't do them well."

        Metroid Prime Hunters Disagrees with you.

        • by Mooga (789849)
          You've got me. I've heard good things but I only played the very rough beta that came with the old phat. Plus, finding an old copy of Metroid is difficult.
    • by NorQue (1000887)
      If anything, the DS needs less games, so I can play all the good ones before the next generation gets released. Seriously, there's plenty of really great games around, I really don't understand where that complaint is coming from. Yes, a lot of crap shovelware gets released, too, but there still are enough good titles to keep you entertained for two console generations.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I want Grand Theft Auto for the Wii!

    Beat up a hooker, get your money back, work up a sweat!

    • by tomhudson (43916)

      I want Grand Theft Auto for the Wii!

      No problem ... just stick your Wii in plain view in your car in "that" part of town ...

      Or if you don't want them to steal your car, stick a Zune in plain view - that's like kryptonite to thieves.

    • by KDR_11k (778916)

      Considering how people have often complained about the controls in GTA (either the aiming system on the consoles or the vehicles and such on the PC) the Wiimote might actually be helpful there since it can easily serve as a pointer for aiming and a steering wheel for driving.

    • Why stop there? I want to see a hot coffee mod for it []
  • I read this on Ars yesteday and essentially they're saying the poor sales figures could hurt future developer decisions to focus on "mature" content.

    It's possible that gamers simply weren't interested in what they saw as a hacked-down version of the game, or that the demographic of the Nintendo DS really is as young as the haters would have you believe, no matter how many anecdotes you hear about adults buying the system.

    DS Chinatown Wars flops badly []

    • by meist3r (1061628)

      DS Chinatown Wars flops badly []

      I love how they whine about "the game only sold 100.000 units in two weeks" and make it sound like that's terrible. Madworld has been out for a month and has so far sold ~66.000 copies globally. THAT is bad. GTA:CW was released in mid-march and sold more that 100K copies in merely two weeks. What has this industry become that a hundred thousand players are bad news?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by k_187 (61692)
        That's true but this is GTA, the series that made the PS2 the juggernaut that it is. This is like saying the new Mario or Halo only sold 100K copies in 2 weeks.
        • by meist3r (1061628)
          An interesting tidbit about this is that the game launched on 17th/20th March and the new DSi launched hardly two weeks later. Saving up money to buy something big? Sounds like a typical resource conflict to me. Whaddya get from you allowance? A new DSi or GTA sqr(4)D Chinatown Wars? I share the view from TFA that the sales numbers will pick up soon. I'd say basically a case of either botched release planning or economic optimism. Maybe they hoped that all people would spend money on the DSi AND GTA:CW
        • No one cared about GTA 3 at launch. It was only a couple months later after they had played it at their friend's house that people started buying a lot of copies of it. And then they launched the sequel and people did care about that. Look at this chart. []

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by KDR_11k (778916)

      Nintendo responded by telling people to stop looking only at the first week's sales [] because there's more than one week or month for the game to sell in and on platforms like the DS and Wii they actually do instead of hitting near-zero sales after two months and a pricedrop after three more. Their example is CoD4 for the DS which sold 36k in the first month and 500k lifetime-to-date.

  • In 2D? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by KDR_11k (778916)

    It seems to me that DS games automatically get lower ratings simply because violence in 2d is less realistic and detailled so while on other systems M ratings almost appear to be the default on the DS you'd really have to reach to get one as your usual run-and-gun games won't even get close to one.

    • Yeah, brutal, gritty graphics just don't work on something with such low resolution, and poor 3D rendering (15-bit color, no filtering, no AA, just 2048 triangles per-frame) means the low-resolution looks even worse.

      This is the real reason they only do cartoony games on the DS.

      I can't wait for a real upgrade to the DS graphics hardware.

  • I'm always surprised when people write off the DS as being unfriendly to "Serious" Gamers. Seeing how many people, and how diverse a crowd use the DS in Japan, I'll argue that these users are much more serious gamers than half of those that would label themselves that here in the states. The simple reason is downtime while in transit which the Tokyoites and the majority of the country have and the vast majority of people in the states don't. There is something that makes you smile about sitting on the Ch

  • M-rated != mature (Score:4, Interesting)

    by StreetStealth (980200) on Sunday April 19, 2009 @09:44AM (#27636047) Journal

    I still don't understand the strange implied correlation between rating and maturity, as if content ratings are somehow a measure of a game's (or movie's, or that matter) sophistication.

    As a ceiling, yes: It makes sense that more mature content should have that space in which to work, so that if the creators feel it needs violence or sexuality, they're free to add it, but this assumption that if it's not M-rated it's not appropriate for adults just seems an oddly limited view of the medium.

  • I thought it said "May Pave the Way for Retarded Content".

  • I'm glad that this issue came up! I like DS's simplicity (and the cool touch screen), it's like the DOS gaming era without power-sucking 3D cards, crashing Windows and other crap. Yet the problem has been exactly this: the games are mostly these Fisher-Price kids' games and the millionth remake of Mario... If the selection really expands, I'm certainly interested.
  • When I go into stores like Wal-Mart, Best Buy, FYE, etc. I only ever see a handful of DS titles. Never do they have the game that I'm looking for, and even GameStop has been slacking lately.

    I'm playing Chinatown Wars right now (it's AWESOME!) and I had to go to 3 stores to find it.

    I bet DS sales would be a lot better if stores would carry more than just Animal Crossing and 15 different versions of Pokemon.

  • I hope GTA on the DS can pave the way for neat M-rated shooters like Dementium: The Ward. That would be awesome.
  • GTA: CTW isn't going to pave anything... Get this... there are 34 million NDS's in America. Guess how many copies of CTW were sold? 89,000. To put this in perspective, Resident Evil 5 sold just under a million on the Xbox 360 and there are only 17 million machines in the U.S. Soooo... double the audience of the 360 and around 1/10th the unit sales.

The only thing cheaper than hardware is talk.