Nintendo isn’t a company we follow a great deal at ARN, but in the consumer tech space, it’s a genuine heavyweight. When Nintendo officially launched its newest portable console, the 3DS, to the Australian media last night, I went along to see what it was up to this time around.
The 3DS is a heck of a gadget. The chief gimmick is the ability for the console to create a 3D effect without the need for specialised glasses. With a slogun “it needs to be seen to believed,” Nintendo is keen to get people out and trying it – which makes sense, given that the traditional marketing strategies that videogame companies typically employ – such as the release of screenshots or video – won’t be as effective this time around.
Trying it really is an amazing experience first time around. While I’d stop short of calling it “magic,” the 3DS technology creates a similar experience to what Disney was capable of at its height – creating an immersion and a “wow” factor that belies the limits of the technology.
It’s what happened with the Nintendo DS and Wii before the 3DS. In each case the consoles have been less powerful and less capable than the competition. To carry the Disney comparison – Disney movies were rarely the deepest or most progressive cinema, available, either. What Disney, and now Nintendo, has been good at is capturing the imaginations of the masses, of bringing something personal out of formats that are often quite impersonal.
Both Disney and Nintendo are able to, for that split second of time, bring us back to a youth where things didn’t need to be complicated or even mature to be joyful or entertaining.
With the 3DS, the 3D effect doesn’t create new kinds of games, or change how people will play games, but it does give us a fresh new look at things. The hardware is not any great advancement on what it already available in the market, but it’s enough to create the 3D effect.
It’s $349 and will be in shops on March 31. That’s long enough for Nintendo to take the console out on a roadshow and convince people that, even though the 3DS is a dedicated gaming console, with a fraction of the functionality of an iPhone or tablet computer, it’s also a gadget that will get people interested in games all over again.
I’m certain it will sell well – and once again, for all the questionable business decisions that Nintendo makes from time to time, its ability to capture the same kind of success that Disney has enjoyed will keep it in a very strong position for some time to come.