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Nintendo Chief: Consumers Don't Understand 3DS Yet 215

Posted by Soulskill
from the buy-our-stuff-or-you're-stupid dept.
gabbo529 writes "Nintendo's latest financial results reveal that initial sales for their portable 3D gaming system have been underwhelming at best. What's the reason? Nintendo chief executive Satoru Iwata says consumers have yet to fully understand the console's 3D capabilities, even when trying it out. Others think it might have something to do with the console's high price ($250) and the lack of big-name titles available (Mario and Zelda are not yet out)."
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Nintendo Chief: Consumers Don't Understand 3DS Yet

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  • by Solensean (896908) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @07:19AM (#35961242)

    You're just holding it wrong!

  • by RogueyWon (735973) * on Thursday April 28, 2011 @07:19AM (#35961250) Journal

    I've had a 3DS since launch-day (more detailed thoughts in my journal) and I think I could summarise my opinion of it as follows:

    - It looks and feels like a nice piece of hardware; much less like a plastic toy than previous Nintendo handhelds.

    - It's also a step up on the DS from an ergonomic point of view. The analogue stick is good - better than the PSP's - but there's only one of them. This means that a lot of the same control issues that plagued certain genres on the PSP are already re-emerging on the 3DS.

    - The 3D effect is jaw-dropping at first, but headache inducing (for me) even after relatively short play sessions and a distraction in the longer term. It's worth seeing, but not a reason to buy the machine in itself. Also, the 3D effect is massively hard to sustain if you are not in a "stable" environment. If you're trying to use it on a train or plane, you may have problems.

    - Take the 3D effect away and the graphics are... ok. Roughly speaking, the launch titles look slightly worse than current PSP titles (not helped by the lower screen resolution). However, it's unfair to compare launch titles to titles for an older system that developers know well by now.

    - The battery life is bad. Depending on 3D and sound settings, I get between 3 and 4 and a half hours from the thing. This compares to 4-6 hours from the PSP and 12+ hours from the old DS.

    - Load times are also more noticable than on the DS. None of the launch titles have loading times as bad as something like Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep or Dissidia 012 on the PSP, but they can still be irritating. Plus those PSP titles are far more ambitious than any of the 3DS launch titles.

    - The launch titles are not fantastic. I got Pilotwings Resort and Ridge Racer with my console; they're both fun for short periods, but also very shallow and they get boring really fast. I've tried a few of the other launch titles for varying periods of time. Most of them range from "mediocre" to "outright bad". Street Fighter 4 is pretty good, but is always going to feel second best to the home console versions.

    - And there's not much else in the pipeline. Yes, there's a Zelda remake coming, but I've bought that game once already and can't get too excited about buying it again. Beyond that... who knows?

    The biggest problem the 3DS has is distinguishing itself from the (now much cheaper) PSP. The 3DS has the 3D effect, which is undoubtedly clever at first, but which starts to feel like a gimmick fairly quickly. Beyond that, the PSP has a better screen, better battery life and graphics that are more or less on a par with the 3DS's (if not slightly better on the basis of current titles). It also has the advantage of having a huge number of decent games already out there. Which, as I've posted on earlier threads, does make me wonder why on earth Sony now want to retire the PSP for a (risky, expensive) successor, when now would be the perfect time for them to just push cheap PSPs and major releases and kill the 3DS stillborn. The PSP is handily outselling the 3DS week on week in Japan and is holding up remarkably well in other markets. That's no small achievement for a console that was written off as a "failure" within months of launching.

    Don't get me wrong - the 3DS is in no way bad. Turn the 3D off (as most people will after a day or two) and you are still left with a pleasant to use handheld with some nifty features. But are those features enough to justify the price for most gamers, against the backdrop of very little currently worth playing on the thing? Probably not...

    One thing's for sure - complaining that customers "don't understand" your product is not the way forward. It's the kind of talk I always associate from companies who know that they're losing. A bit like when a game developer responds to bad review scores by saying "our game isn't intended for critics".

    • This makes me think that if the developers made games with no 3D effect, the graphics could be twice as complex as those of the PSP. Goes against the whole 3D idea, of course, so it would probably just annoy anyone who bought the device for the 3D gimmick, even if the visuals were better than a PSP..

      • by RogueyWon (735973) *
        That depends on how much of the 3DS's power is actually going on the 3D effect. I've heard varying reports here, ranging from "half of it" to "very little indeed". The longer term problem is the size and resolution of the screen, which is always going to hold the 3DS back from matching the PSP (let alone the NGP) in a straight graphical battle. To be honest, I'd have thought that Nintendo would have been better focussing on screen size and quality for their DS successor (the DS always being pretty bad in th
        • Well, I've never seen the 3D effect, but if they're doing true stereoscopic vision, then any part of the interface that is in 3D will have to be rendered twice. That means for a full 3D stereoscopic scene, it will have to render everything in the scene twice. Now this means that the same scene can be kept in memory for both renders, but it will have to be done from two different viewpoints.

          • by Splab (574204)

            A lot of the calculations will be the same for both frames and you can probably cheat a heck of a lot, our brains will fill in the errors if they are kept within a small margin.

    • by Jesus_666 (702802)

      One thing's for sure - complaining that customers "don't understand" your product is not the way forward. It's the kind of talk I always associate from companies who know that they're losing. A bit like when a game developer responds to bad review scores by saying "our game isn't intended for critics".

      Hey, if it means more Twisp and Catsby I'm fine with it. Although I think it's more likely we'll see some Nintendo/ICP crossover image macros á la: "F***ing 3D effect. How does it work?"

      Anyway, it's a great sentence to laugh about. Not quite in the same league as giant enemy crabs in historical Japan but Nintendo are certainly trying.

    • by slyrat (1143997)

      - And there's not much else in the pipeline. Yes, there's a Zelda remake coming, but I've bought that game once already and can't get too excited about buying it again. Beyond that... who knows?

      Well here are the games I'm really excited about for it:
      pinball hall of fame, because actually having good 3d while playing pinball of this quality is going to be great.
      kid icarus uprising - looks similar in a lot of ways to sin and punishment for the wii, and there really aren't many games on any system like that.
      paper mario 3d - not sure when it is actually going to be out but I love paper mario
      professor layton / phoenix wright mashup game - both of these series are great and I expect this one wil

    • by Rogerborg (306625)

      A bit like when a game developer responds to bad review scores by saying "our game isn't intended for critics".

      Point of Parliamentary Procedure: you're liking thinking of Penny Arcade's [penny-arcade.com] take on Kevin Smith's defence of Jersey Girl [viewaskew.com].

    • I think the biggest problem is you make a player that is going to be primarily used by children and then warn parents not to let your 6 year-old play it [go.com].

      So the parents start to think, well what about the children older than 6 or the teen has a little brother and they don't want him picking it up.

      Whenever you have to tell parents that a toy is dangerous, you can't be surprised when it doesn't sell.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @07:23AM (#35961260) Journal
    Any time you claim that "consumers don't understand..." or "consumers need to be educated about..." you Have A Problem.

    Most of the time, you are just engaged in the corporate equivalent of teenage whining about being misunderstood. Sorry. Your product is not, in fact, a special flower, misunderstood by the uncaring public. They just don't like it very much.

    On occasion, you have in fact created something so new, unique, or ahead-of-its-time that its utility is not yet well understood. Unfortunately for you, while this is more likely to ensure you a spot in history, it also usually means that you are the sucker who did the R&D and then ran out of money while waiting for customers to wake up; and, when they eventually did, somebody else was far better situated to fulfill the demand. Sorry.

    Frankly, I'm going to suggest that the 3DS falls into option #1. The public understands "3D" perfectly well(in specialized theaters we've had some degree of it for what, 50 years?); but has also learned by experience that 90% of "3D" is gimmicky crap that costs more and frequently delivers less.
    • Sigh. I just burned 15 mod-points on lesser posts. So I mod this up, with the power of my mind.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Any time you claim that "consumers don't understand..." or "consumers need to be educated about..." you Have A Problem.

      When I read that I immediately thought of the ps3 being probably too cheap [computeran...ogames.com].

      Frankly, I'm going to suggest that the 3DS falls into option #1. The public understands "3D" perfectly well(in specialized theaters we've had some degree of it for what, 50 years?); but has also learned by experience that 90% of "3D" is gimmicky crap that costs more and frequently delivers less.

      The public understands that the 3DS causes headaches. They are simply not going to adopt that. Time to build a bridge and get over the mofo. Guess what, the Virtual Boy failed too. Nintendo is amazing for their ability to fail in precisely the same way on multiple occasions.

      • by elrous0 (869638) *

        You would think that Virtual Boy would have taught them the dangers of making 3D your main gimmick. Guess not.

    • by elrous0 (869638) *

      Any time you claim that "consumers don't understand..." or "consumers need to be educated about..." you Have A Problem.

      I suspect he already knows that. Trying to blame it on consumers (while slipping in a plug for how awesome your system is) just sounds a lot better than "We really fucked this one up. The 3D isn't that great, and the system is overpriced."

  • by mblase (200735) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @07:30AM (#35961288)

    Nintendo gives the 3DS a switch to turn the 3D off completely. They've basically told developers that it's a gimmick, not an essential gameplay feature, and that they shouldn't make games that rely upon this feature.

    Given that's the case, why would most developers stick their neck out to use it at all? Without a must-have exclusive game, Nintendo will always have trouble getting people to replace their DSi with something that costs almost twice as much.

    • Re:No reason to buy (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Aladrin (926209) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @07:47AM (#35961370)

      Not trolling, I really want to know... How do you make a game that requires 3D? It's not like it has head-tracking (or even could, thanks to the technology used) so you can't peer around things any more than you could with 3D turned off.

      I totally admit it's a gimmick... But it's a gimmick that adds immersion. At least, it does for some. For others, the headache and/or need to keep the device in a certain position takes away from the immersion.

      I'm in the former category and have loved 3D all my life. Sadly, the 3DS doesn't have any worthwhile games yet... And that lack may kill it before it gets going.

      • Not trolling, I really want to know... How do you make a game that requires 3D?

        A simple example could be getting points for clicking things apparently in front of the screen, and losing points for clicking things behind it. If there are no additional hints about the position, you'll not succeed without 3D.

      • Not trolling, I really want to know... How do you make a game that requires 3D? It's not like it has head-tracking (or even could, thanks to the technology used) so you can't peer around things any more than you could with 3D turned off.

        You don't have head tracking or be able to peer around things to have a 3D game, all you need to have is "in front of" and "behind". Epyx had a game back in the 1980s called Dragonriders of Pern. One of the aspects of the game was flying your dragon around and charring thread out of the sky. Thread would fall in one of four planes that you could manoeuvre your dragon into and out of. So, thread would be falling from top to bottom anywhere from the left side to the right side of the screen in any one of t

      • by Gravatron (716477)
        Actually, they had a tech demo with an example. It was a platformer where in 2d, you could not tell where one platform ends and another begins, making jumping difficult. In 3d mode, you could clearly judge the distance, and it was much easier.
    • by ink (4325)

      Many people have sight problems that prevent them from seeing 3D -- why would Nintendo exclude them by tying gameplay mechanics to a display device? It's similar to cinema -- not everyone wants to see a movie in 3D.

      I think the biggest problem facing the 3DS is its underwhelming software lineup.

      • by headLITE (171240)

        I don't have stereo vision normally but it works with the 3DS (and any other 3D system that I've tried that works by showing different pictures to each eye). I'm not sure how exactly that works, but it makes the 3DS even more attractive for me and less of a gimmick. I also have a bunch of other 3D gimmicks and I have some experience with professional application of 3D systems so it goes almost without saying that I'm slightly biased. I already knew I'd enjoy the 3D screen.

        I agree with the horrible launch li

    • The thing is, even with the 3D off completely, it's still an upgrade over the DS/DSi. I picked up a 3DS entirely with the knowledge that the 3D stuff is a gimmick. Fine, fair enough, I'll probably play with it off anyway (I do, most of the time). But past that, it's effectively a DS2. It's a better system with more RAM, better internet connectivity, slightly more proper friend list support (sadly, "only one friend code for the entire console" IS an improvement, but it still is one), SD card support for

  • by asdf7890 (1518587) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @07:34AM (#35961300)
    Well, he could hardly say "people understand the product well enough to make a well informed choice not to buy the thing" or "people just don't care as much about this gimmick as we hoped they would" could he? One of which is closer to the truth in most cases.
  • Nintendo doesn't understand consumers, you insensitive clod!
    • by VJ42 (860241) *
      This. Personally, I'm waiting for the promised ability to transfer my DSiWare to the 3DS before buying one. I don't think I'm the only one doing that; and I know that other people have expressed other reasons for not getting one in other comments here. I'm afraid, the big N is in the wrong this time, not consumers.
  • by davidbrit2 (775091) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @08:12AM (#35961516) Homepage
    It's Nintendo that doesn't understand the 3DS. You've built a device with about a 5-degree usable viewing angle, and you've put motion control in the blasted thing. I know Nintendo has a long history of throwing a bunch of shit at the wall and quickly abandoning whatever doesn't stick, but really?
    • by idji (984038)
      exactly, I tried to play a 3D game with a tiny viewing angle, and the game required me to swing the thing around my head fast to attack a dodging enemy. 10 minutes after I gave up my eyes were still blinking and weeping - and I loved Avatar in 3D.
      • by headLITE (171240)

        I'm assuming you're talking about Face Raiders, which is included with the console.

        The other game that is included is a few Augmented Reality gimmicks that render stuff into a 3D view as seen by the two cameras in the lid. Those *also* require you to move the 3DS around, e.g. you need to shoot a box from the right side or things like that.

        I have no idea how they thought that this could possibly work... but none of the four games I bought required me to move the device around, so at least not everybody went

  • by BoRegardless (721219) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @08:15AM (#35961542)

    If a device doesn't "fit" and isn't priced fairly, they keep their current device or move on to some other product. Simple.

    Steve Jobs, Jonny Ives and other designers realize that "fit" means easy to use and does the job.

    I have to put Nintendo CEO Satori in the same camp as RIM CEO Basillie as CEOs who are out of touch with their customers.

  • by Tridus (79566) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @08:22AM (#35961606) Homepage

    Potential customers understand it just fine. It's NIntendo that doesn't get it. The DS was so successful because it was affordable and had great battery life.

    The 3DS is neither of those things. It's too expensive and the battery life sucks, all in the name of a gimmicky technology that most users wind up turning off anyway. I mean you can't even use the 3d on a bus, which is about the only place I ever use my DS.

    This thing deserves to fail.

  • It looks like Nintendo is blaming their customers for not understanding their product... isn't that their marketing department's responsibility?

  • surprised nobody has mentioned money. guess when you're throwin' $300 around every few months for a new iPhone it doesn't matter to some people but last i checked the economy still sucks gas is like $4.00 gallon and i look at that $250 price tag (+ game cost) with a fairly weak opening line of games and walk on by.

  • by Chas (5144)

    Nintendo chief doesn't understand consumers yet, keeps pushing 3DS.

  • I don't think I know a single person who likes the 3D movies anymore, let alone those stupid 3D TVs. The last thing we wanted to see was a 3D console. Yeah, you don't need glasses, but it still gives you a headache, and it doesn't do anything for the games at all. It looks neat for the first 10 seconds then you just want to stab your eyes out with a fork.

    I buy have bought nearly every console Nintendo put out since the NES days, I have them all tucked away. I will not be buying a 3DS. The 3D fad is done and

  • "Nintendo chief executive Satoru Iwata says consumers have yet to fully understand the console's 3D capabilities" When asked to further clarify his statement he added "They're holding it wrong".
  • This sounds much like Sony's spin on thing when the PSP was struggling for sales. I dont think its so much that people dont understand the product its that the market has changed around them. Mobile gaming doesn't need a dedicated device for most people anymore. A good bellwether in my home is the opinion of my children. So far none of them have expressed any interest in it at all, but they all want either new ipod touches or ipads. Hardcore gamers will of course still spring for the "deeper" experienc

    • by headLITE (171240)

      Actually nowadays, the "deeper" experience is not really limited to dedicated gaming platforms anymore. The only advantage the 3DS has over the iPod or iPad is Super Mario, Zelda and Mario Kart - and none of these have been released yet. But you can e.g. play Final Fantasy III on an iPod or iPad as of recently, or GTA CTW, or SimCity, and so on and so forth, and there are several clones of popular games that are also pretty good. And they're all much cheaper than on any Nintendo device.

      I did buy a 3DS for r

  • Is this the world we live in? either a device breaks records or it's underwhelming, no middle ground?

    they wanted to make 4 million sales, they made 3.61 million in sales. They didn't meet expectations, but it's not really underwhelming.

  • Others think it might have something to do with the console's high price ($250) and the lack of big-name titles available (Mario and Zelda are not yet out)."

    This. I'm not going to spend $250 on a paperweight. Which this is until they get some decent games. This IS a gaming system. Without games, it's worthless to me. Sure it might have the augmented reality stuff (which does look cool) and some other features, but without a killer app, I just can't justify spending $250.

  • They understand that 3D is shit [newstechnica.com].

    "3D technology has been the next big thing for only the last sixty years and is readily available on television, movies and video games. It offers amazing improvements over ordinary moving images: darkness, muddier colours, blurriness, headaches from watching for more than twenty minutes and slower action sequences so the viewer doesn’t throw up.

    In video games, the Nintendo 3DS has been a huge hit with tens or even hundreds of end users, some of whom have left the 3D on

  • I tried a virtualboy at a game store a few times and while 3D is mildly interesting there are just so many ways for it to go wrong, lets also not forget that the games available for these systems are retreads. The whole game industry has really stagnated and has started to resort to gimmickry rather then focus on the software end of it, the really need to be focusing on reducing costs and getting game development down to a science. When so many games end up being lackluster or retreads there is a serious

  • It's not that "consumers" (how I hate that word) don't understand it, it's that it's ...well... not good value.

    The 3D effect works, but it's kind of "meh", doubly so when you consider this is a hand held gaming console, and a screen that only works if your head is exactly the right distance away and within 5 degrees of the right angle just won't work for something that's moving around a bit as you play a game. Essentially, a lot of money for a feature that is an epic fail in usability stakes.

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