Nintendo's 3DS Experiments: Lightning In A Bottle
Company hopes to duplicate DS success on 3DS with a variety of new experiences, but it'll take more than quality to achieve this lofty goal.
The original DS, released in 2004, got off to a slow start, simply because the launch games didn't use the hardware in new and exciting ways. Consumers failed to understand how a single touch screen could enhance gaming.
With its back against the wall, Nintendo went into the development lab and came out with a bunch of new experiences that eventually propelled the system to over 149 million units sold.
Yes, there were Mario, Zelda and Kirby games, all of which proved successful, but DS went mainstream in large part because of hits like Brain Age and Nintendogs. The first delivered enjoyable mini games designed to enhance brain function (and Sudoku, back when that was super huge), while the latter brought the old virtual pet concept into a new generation, with touch screen petting and microphone support.
Combined, these new franchises sold in excess of 38 million units. Most importantly, these games convinced non-players to purchase DS systems.
Now, Nintendo finds itself in a similar position, faced with having to create new gameplay experiences on 3DS that'll appeal to those coveted DS owners and, once again, non-gamers. At this point, Nintendo would also love to pull folks away from their smart phones as well.
That said, company president Satoru Iwata announced that the publisher is hard at work creating new genres of software.
His words are clear: Nintendo wants to replicate what happened with DS on 3DS.
Thing is, this will be significantly more difficult to achieve, in large part because luck had something to do with Brain Age and Nintendogs becoming success stories. If you don't believe in luck, then we'll gladly introduce "right place, right time" into the equation.
Think about it. Did Nintendo know that a game full of math problems would go on to become a worldwide smash hit? Similarly, did the company predict over 20 million copies sold for a series of games featuring virtual dogs, back when the virtual pet craze had waned? Probably not.
Bottom line, Nintendo caught lightning in a bottle, the same as it did with Wii Sports and the Wii.
To that end, it's tough to predict whether these "new genres" will take off like Brain Age and Nintendogs. Then again, like those games, Nintendo was merely taking calculated risks that paid off, big time.
We can't wait to see what's next.