Interviews

Nintendo: '3DS really has something for everyone'

UK marketing manager on the 3DS launch...

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I actually think, and this is something that I've found, that the killer app is the software that is built into the console. With the AR games, the Mii maker, the quests and the ability to swap Miis, those are the killer apps and people should take the time to have a go on those. I'm sure they'll be surprised at the level of depth and ingenuity that is already there.

Because of the success of Wii and DS, a lot of third parties wanted to develop for those systems, but this resulted in Wii in particular being criticised for playing home to a lot of shovelware. Is there a danger of having too many ports of older games or 3D re-releases on 3DS, and how do you plan to ensure quality is retained across the software library?

It's obviously up to each individual publisher to decide which games they want to launch and how they do that. We're not allowed to tell people what and what not to do. We try to encourage that things like StreetPass are added and it's quite nice to have something that is familiar with a new functionality or twist to it. It's often those that surprise you about something you really enjoyed in the past and give you a completely new experience.

Nintendo's previously acknowledged that it has some concerns about third party success on its platforms. Why do you think 3DS, which is a more expensive platform to develop for than DS and increasingly popular platforms like iPhone, is a good fit for third party developers?

I think we just try to make sure we're as open with everybody as we can be. We help people, we encourage them to develop and explore new ideas and create games themselves. There's nothing specific that we've done, it's just about having those conversations. I think the developers themselves have seen something unique in it and often when they see something unique that gives them the inspiration to go on and create the games themselves.

You've kick-started a new handheld generation with 3DS and Sony will join in later this year with NGP. What do you think are the benefits of getting to market first?

It's interesting. Obviously everyone loves a bit of a battle and that is something we have to consider, but what we've done is found a piece of technology. We want to give people new experiences and this is our chance. We managed to bring the product to market when we wanted to and we've got great software for it, so we don't agonise over what other people are doing. It's just up to us to bring it out, make sure that we have the best games that we can, and everyone can make that choice for themselves.

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You've conquered the home console and handheld markets this generation with products that are technically modest compared to those of your rivals, both in terms of visuals and online features. Does 3DS represent a wider strategy shift in Nintendo hardware development towards prioritising visuals and online features?

Yes, you're right, the consoles that we've brought out in the past have been designed to offer a certain experience, so whether it was with the DS on two screens, or Wii with making it easy for everybody to pick up and play, and the 3DS is the next step. We're always looking for new ways to do things, and the visual aspects of the 3DS are fantastic. But there's also a lot of deeper technology in there as well. It becomes quite a social thing, so it's really a console that we want people to pick up and take out with them everyday. We're hoping that people will be surprised by the things they find and the people they meet via it. That, I feel, will keep people engaged.

You told CVG back in January that you thought perhaps the 'heyday of piracy' was over. 3DS games are carrying a warning on the box stating that any "unauthorised technical modification" to the handheld may render the entire system "unplayable". Does this mean Nintendo has the ability to disable 3DS consoles via firmware updates or other means?

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