Nintendo doesn’t think you’re stupid, but that wouldn’t be all too impossible

I have a couple of friends who are not the smartest of the bunch, to say the least. Granted, I’m sure a lot of people feel the same way about me. Nevertheless, they asked a very apt and a very good question; why is Nintendo pushing two variations of their handheld consoles nowadays? Not only this usually means larger loss of money and material on Nintendo’s par, but also may confuse the consumer to some extent.

Actually, the second one of those is why Nintendo is now refusing to release the standard sized N3DS Flanders in the US, opting to promote and sell its fat brother instead. It is true that it is harder to promote two different products, that do exactly same thing just in different pants, than to promote and sell only one sole product. After all, trying to advertise consoles named 3DS, 3DSXL, 2DS, New 3DS and New 3DS XL can be confusing, just like advertising Wii and Wii U and trying to keep the consumers on the roll what’s what. If we take into notice that there is also DS and DSi, things just get mudded down like no other.

While the hardcore consumer or the general gamer is well versed what is what on the market and by whom, the same can’t be said of the larger market. A person who is almost 24/7 in touch with the latest news either via Famitsu, Niche Gamer, TechRaptor or whatnot, the blue ocean customer doesn’t give two flying pennies about what happens in the industry. All he cares about is what the darn box is that plays Mario. In that Nintendo’s marketing has seen incredible failure. Wii U is still a damn PR disaster, people confusing what it is. At the E3 it was revealed, people thought it was a Wii add-on and rightfully so. You’d think Nintendo learned something about naming their consoles, but then they came up with the stupid New 3DS (Flanders.) Not only the name is unimaginative as hell, but it has already caused confusion among the general consumers.

As for why the standard and XL sizes exist can be traced back to the DSi.

The DSi is essentially what the Flanders is to 3DS; a bastard son created to replace its father. In the 3DS’ case, it’s what the father should’ve been in the first place. However, with the advent of the DSi, Nintendo had noticed that the DS’ large library drew in older audience in with such titles like Brain Age Academy. The DSi XL was designed and advertised this older audience in mind, with larger screen and far more pen like stylus. The colour selection reflected this with more mature colours like Burgundy as opposed to some of the more toyish colours of bright candy red. Of course, black and white are the standard colourchemes every and any company tend to use nowadays. Nevertheless, I’m not sure how well the DSi XL excelled, as the standard sized consoles sold decently well to the audience, but the XL is still warming shelves.

As such, it wasn’t a surprise that the 3DS saw two different versions as well. Nintendo’s approach not to release the standard 3DS in the US is a good move overall, as they have less confusion in the market. I’d like to know why Nintendo didn’t do the same thing for the PAL regions. Nintendo’s decision reflects on the age split the consumers have in the US. The XL at its core is directed for the older audience, the 20-years plus group. Seeing the US has its infamous problem with the size of their citizens, it makes sense to market the console that fits the most to the market. Nintendo does recognize that their core audience will have a pole up their ass because of this move due to the surprisingly fierce division between standard and XL owners’ sides, but they’re using their logic heads instead of emotional heads. The latter is just for dicking, after all.

This may seem uncharacteristic of me, but do keep in mind that I am all for the companies maximising their earnings, but not on the expense of the consumer or ethics. If the data does show that the XL sells more than the standard size, I will always be for the removal of the lesser selling version of that exact same product. The whole standard and XL mixing had its time when software library was attracting consumers from each and every corner of the sales ocean. The DS and the Wii were incredible hits with the blue ocean market, whereas the 3DS and Wii U returned competing with other red ocean products.

However, I do think Nintendo should have gone their way out and release the Standard version in the US as well, seeing they already have production line for it. In a market that relies on its core audience more than on the general one (unlike with the DS and Wii) Nintendo doesn’t have much leeway to push that core audience away.

If my personal opinion was asked, I would say that a standard and XL versions should not exist at all. One version is enough, and seeing frequently updating your system is a thing, you can produce wholly different design later in the future. That is, if the console lives long enough to see those iterations. Both GameBoy and GameBoy Advance saw three core versions respectively. The old ass brick GameBoy is an iconic thing, beauty in its size and gobbles AA batteries like a horse, whereas the Pocket version fit into smaller hands and found a faithful following with that. The Colour was a lesser redesign, but far more curved and fit more hands than the two together. The original GameBoy advance is incredible comfortable machine to hold for hours end, whereas the SP is a thin and flat bastard with its own users. The Micro wasn’t a huge success, but ultimately is as surprisingly comfortable as the SP is horrible. Yes, I do not like SP’s design and the 3DS versions, and to large extend the DS’ too, share its shortcomings in ergonomics. I often employ some sort of grip with the modern handhelds because I enjoy my hands actually working when I do work. Then again, you can argue that my line of work is not good for your hands anyways, but the I’d argue that even the smallest things to make things better can have a significantly positive effect.

Whether or not you like the standard better than the XL is up to you. Whether or not the market deems the other more desirable than the other should show which one is more preferred and what direction the next Nintendo’s handheld console’s design should go towards. I hope it will love our hands more than these damn flat flip flops we’ve been getting.

Game industry has a habit of dropping support, it seems

The video game industry is fond of pushing devices and addons to the customer that they don’t really want. There are numerous borderline cases, but overall when a device is pushed to the customer, it often fails. Overall, only a handful of addon devices have become highly popular and hit through the market barrier. Some even managed to become a sort of cultural icon. Nintendo Zapper, for example, is an example of an addon that was not only desired but also sought after outside the hardcore gamers. ROB was rather popular for first for novelty reasons, but Nintendo dropped the support for it. There are exactly two games ROB supports, and neither of them are good. However, it is a great thing Nintendo didn’t continue to push ROB further. This was the NES era after all, Nintendo had very little room to mess with the customers at this point.

Just by looking SEGA’s and Nintendo’s success with addons, to some extent with their consoles, we can see that even the most successful addons seem to die out either due to lack of software or lack of overall support. SEGA promoted Mega Drive’s CD and 32X addons quite a lot, and while 32X was the Kinect of its time, both addons failed. The games for either weren’t all too good and in too small amounts to warrant a purchase. Then you got the Saturn, a console that was put on sale too soon, leaving little software at launch and was dropped outright soon after in favour of the Dreamcast. Saturn in itself was rather badly designed console, having two separate CPUs which were hard to utilise. Games it had were not all too great either, even if there are numerous gems on the system. Then again, so does pretty much any other system.

It’s worth noting that SEGA continued the Master System support in form of the Power Base Converter, a move that a lot of Master System owners liked. That meant that adding the Power Base Converter you could free space from the living room. There were some issues, like a handful of games not working properly, but overall it was a good addon. It had a very specific customer group, but it also allowed people with the Converter to collect Master System games despite not owning the original system.

That is also exactly why all the current consoles, from Steam to PlayStation 4, have extremely interesting competition going on; they’re competing against games from the whole history of the industry. I would dread the idea of competing with giants like Super Mario Bros. 3 or Castlevania III.

Nintendo had less direct console addons like SEGA, a decision that many regard a good move. Whether or not the Super Nintendo CD addon would have become a success would have depended on the games the system. However, the Super Scope was all sort of awful, even if it was pushed as the successor to the Zapper. Nintendo dropped its support just like that, and only very few games supported it. Interestingly, I remember the Hunt for Red October having a special stage that supported it. Then you have games that could have supported it, like Wild Guns, but opted for a better control scheme because the Super Scope is a shit product. I have one, bought it from sale years back.

GameBoy saw few well remembered addons, but we all know that both GameBoy Camera and Printer were released, and then effectively dropped. In about a year, the GameBoy Camera saw huge price drops. If my American friend is correct, some places sold new units for five damn dollars.

Nintendo also seemed to love the idea of connectivity between their handheld and home console systems, but only few games ever supported this. The Nintendo 64 has two games that come to people’s mind, one being sum of the Pokémon games and Perfect Dark. It’s a nice idea and could work, but goddamn this thing saw no support. You also need to remember that often the connectivity kept accessing some of the content from either portable or home console game, and this then kept the developers from including any significant connectivity. Pokémon was the only one that truly benefitted of this, but that’s simply because Pokémon Stadium games were built for the connectivity from the ground up.

It’s a similar tale with the GameBoy Advance and GameCube. I’m sure some people enjoyed playing Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles or Four Swords, but everybody I’ve known personally testify these games destroying friendships. Well, seriously speaking the connectivity with GBA and GC was plagued with the exact same causes the GB and N64 connectivity was, and ultimately Nintendo seems to have dropped pushing this with the Wii and WiiU, par Pokémon.

N64DD is another addon Nintendo just dropped. The 64DD effectively mirrored the fates of 32X and SEGA-CD, but Nintendo handled the games, the device, marketing and the whole deal so badly that pretty much all games that weren’t at the very end of the development cycle were dropped dead, or in Nintendo’s case, moved to the GameCube. The 64DD original games weren’t all too good, so perhaps it was for the best Nintendo not to push this ill fated addon.

There’s few special addons that can named, but they were doomed from the start because they simply had no other use outside one mechanic; the e-Reader for the GBA, the Kongas and Microphones for the GC.

With Wii Nintendo seemed to realize how to play the game again properly. Well, not exactly. Nintendo came with the Wii Speak, an addon that was support about three games; Animal Crossing City Folk, The Conduit and Monster Hunter Tri. There is one or two more games that had Wii Speak support, but it would be a total waste of time to even Google it up.

SONY has their own little addons, like the Move controller. Move was SONY’s way to counter the Wiimote, much like how Microsoft kept pushing the Kinect until as of late.

The reason why I am concentrating with Nintendo in this post, outside the fact they had the most addons and stinkers like Virtual Boy, is that the upcoming Super Smash Bros for a console won’t support the Circle Pad Pro, but will support the upcoming N3DS Flanders’ C-Nub. I would call this as cold business calculation if it wasn’t such a stupid move. Nintendo is dropping their support on an addon they’ve been trying to push to customers, even thou they’ve themselves or any of the devs have shown very little support for it. Now that they would be able to show some sense and add the support, they’d rather see the base 3DS and its addons dead. While on surface it makes sense to support the new device more, this isn’t the case. The Flanders is not a new device. Its status is comparable to Wii Mini or AV Famicom than to SNES or GameCube. While the Slide Pad Pro was done mainly for the Monster Hunter series, it had potential. However, much like all addons, that potential has been largely wasted. I feel bad for anyone who has the Slide Pad Pro and was expecting further amount of support.

The issue game industry doesn’t seem to realize that once you’ve released an addon you’re largely promoting, and then you essentially drop its support, the customer loses its trust. It’s no wonder there is a group of people refusing to purchase any of the 3DS iterations. At least not until the machines’ region lock is removed in a way or another.

It would great if the addons these companies keep making would be optional, but after production and release they would continue to see further support. It’s a waste of resources and time from both the companies’ and customers’ part. It appears that the companies only care for short term revenue rather than keeping up with longer plan that would also allow heightened profits.