Friday, October 21, 2011

Why the 3DS is TEH DOOMED.

Why Nintendo Has Only Themselves To Blame For The Handheld's Failure


When Nintendo announced the 3DS two summers ago, it seemed as if the highly touted handheld would follow in the footsteps of its predecessor, the DS, and sell approximately a bazillion units.

But when the 3DS shipped earlier this spring, the next big thing from the Big N tanked like a mid ‘90s Sly Stallone comedy.

It’s pretty hard to believe that just five years ago, Nintendo was rolling in more dough than a certain pizza-chain owning Republican candidate for the U.S. presidency. The Wii was so gosh darn popular that seeing the things on store shelves was aberrational, and the DS? Yeah, it was only more profitable than most European GDPs for the Kyoto-based company. So, in a nutshell, what exactly went wrong with the launch of the 3DS?

In short? Pretty much everything.

You KNOW that you botched a product release when you can’t even use the “But-We’re-In-A-Recession! Card” to wiggle your way out of the blame. Simply put, Nintendo not only dropped the ball with the 3DS release, they pretty much slung the proverbial spherical object into the depths of the Earth’s core.

It would be really easy to blame the management at Nintendo for the 3DS disaster (which we will refer to as the 3DSaster from here on out). That’s because the management THEMSELVES said they were the reason for the bungling of the product launch, which resulted in the executive of the company reducing his own pay by half to avoid getting thrown out of a window like one of those barrels in Donkey Kong by Nintendo stockholders.

That said, there are more specific reasons as to why the 3DS tanked to such a monumental degree that the company reduced the price of the product by almost $80 USD just five months after it was released. And to demonstrate just how entrenched in grade-A failure the company was/is, “because the heads at Nintendo of America are a bunch of unqualified, arrogant buffoons” is just an honorable mention here.

So what are the biggest factors behind the 3DSaster? Well, I’ve narrowed my list down to five major screw-ups, which I’ve decided to rank in ascending order, starting with. . .

REASON NUMBER 005: The Software Sucked

There was a time when the term “Nintendo” pretty much meant “quality product.” The company was even accused of being despotic with its quality control practices in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, but judging from a majority of games on the 3DS, that standard of excellence has been lowered considerably over the last two and half decades.

Of course, there are plenty of games that range from really, really good to flat out great on the 3DS, but by and large, most of the games released for the system during the launch window. . .well, sucked.

Outside of a few quality titles (all of which were third party releases, by the way), the 3DS launch games were a mixture of half-hearted ports of DS and iPhone games, as well as some straight up shovelware that nobody in their right mind would want to play for more than a few minutes. While better games have been released on the system since, there’s no way around it: the ratio of good-to-sucky software on the handheld are disproportionately skewed towards the latter, which means if you pick a random game out of the console library, there’s a 60 percent chance that whatever you pick up is utter garbage. . .not that a dearth of quality titles has led to the demise of any other gaming systems before. I mean, never, ever, and not at all

REASON NUMBER 004: The Applications Are Lacking

One of the big features of the 3DS was that it was supposed to run a litany of killer apps in addition to playing solid-state software. The problem with the 3DS e-shop, which was modeled after the relatively successful marketplace app on the Wii, is two-fold:

001 - The thing didn’t launch until almost two months after the 3DS was released

…and…

002 - All of those “classic games” you get to pay six bucks to play? You can play pretty much all of them on your smartphone or tablet computer for free dollars and thrifty-free cents.

Needless to say, it’s pretty hard to rationalize spending the equivalent of a Taco Bell meal on a warmed-over Game Boy port of Pac-Man, and to make things even worse, Nintendo absolutely FAILED on its promises to deliver quality 3D-enchanced remakes of classic NES and arcade titles on the handheld (unless, of course, you consider a virtually unplayable rehash of the universally loathed “Urban Champion” a killer app.)

And then, there was Nintendo promising us access to 3D movies via the handheld. . .through NetFlix. Yeah, you don’t even NEED me to go on about that retroactively horrendous business deal, I suppose. . .

REASON NUMBER 003: The Hardware is Already Obsolete

In the age of the “all-in-wonder” mobile device, Nintendo’s commitment to providing modern gamers a dedicated portable gaming console is pretty admirable. No, wait, I guess a better term would be “really, really stupid.”

Nintendo has been notoriously slow to adapt to Internet technologies. To give you some insight into how backwards the Big N is when it comes to the Intraweb, note that Nintendo did not provide consumers with an integrated online gaming network until 2008. . .while it’s old arch-rival Sega was allowing gamers to play Dreamcast games online all the way back in 2000 (and if you can believe it, Sega even experimented with a SUPER primitive online network called the X-Band. . .in 1994!)

Needless to say, the 3DS is incredibly lacking when it comes to online capabilities, with a crappy user interface, a crappy web browser, and an online gaming component so slow and unmanageable that most programmers don’t even bother including online multiplayer in their releases for the system.

Seeing as how the 3DS can just barely pick up Wi-Fi signals, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that the processing speeds of the unit are incredibly lacking. Not only does Sony’s competitor Playstation Vita mop the floor with the 3DS in terms of graphical process power and online integration, most next generation smartphones are packing more CPU horsepower than the 3DS.

Even so, Nintendo decided to RIGHT THE WRONGS by issuing a redesign of the 3DS hardware. . .which, of course, consists of  nothing more than an additional analogstick.

REASON NUMBER 002: The Complete and Utter Lack of Functionality

Mobile devices are expected to do pretty much everything in this day and age. Long story short, if you don’t have super fast Internet access, the ability to upload YouTube videos, receive telephone calls or a place to jam in an USB drive, you might as well be lugging around an Etch-a-Sketch. While Sony’s upcoming Playstation Vita promises to do everything but make toast for gamers, the 3DS does. . .well, not a whole lot at all, basically.

Want to text a friend, listen to an MP3 file, send an-email or check your Facebook page? If you have even a lower end smartphone, you can do all of the above, but if you drop a full $180 on a 3DS, you can’t do any of them. Since the 3DS operates on a closed system, that means that you can’t use the device for user-generated apps - and since that fledgling industry is set to make a fafillion dollars over the next five years, you can kind of see how the 3DS lack of mobility as a multifunctional device is not only detrimental to its marketability today, but it’s very viability in a market glutted with high-tech devices.

…and the number one reason the 3DS failed in the North American market is…

REASON NUMBER 001: THE 3D GIMMICK IS SO PASSE ITS EMBARRASSING

Hey, remember last year, when everybody thought 3Dtelevision was going to revolutionize home entertainment?

Well, a good year and a half later, we’re way over our Avatar hangovers and realize that, yeah, we were kind of talking out of our rectums. And since this is THE definitive “selling point” for the 3DS. . .well, yeah.

The 3DS isn’t Nintendo’s first foray into supposed “3D gaming,” you know. 1995’s Virtual Boy was an unparalleled disaster for the company, and many of the same criticisms of that once-in-a-lifetime snafu seem to be echoing with the 3DS.

What does it say about your product when most users report that they just turn off the feature that is supposed to be the major selling point of your offering? Or when they complain that the feature doesn’t really “work,” or it actually causes them eyestrain, or, oh yeah, garner criticism from pediatricians that say that the machine may make theyouth of today blind?

Ultimately, there’s only one thing you can say in response, and that’s “Oops!”

Come to think of it, considering all of the screw-ups the marketing brass at Nintendo committed, maybe that’s what they should have called the device since its inception.

1 comment:

  1. Just a suggestion ... read your writing before you post it. The excessive italics on phrases that don't need emphasis, using that in conjunction with excessive capitalization, typos such as missing spaces (what is "theyouth"?), jumping back and forth from left-justification to a centered type-set; all of it contributes to making this article look bush-league.

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