By Jared Newman | Wednesday, April 27, 2011 at 9:58 am
Nintendo’s latest financial results admit that the Nintendo 3DS handheld isn’t selling as well as the company had hoped, while ignoring the elephant in the room.
The magic of glasses-free 3D was supposed to sell itself — or so Nintendo thought. Now, the company realizes that showing off the Nintendo 3DS at retail stores and public events isn’t enough. “There is no easy road to making people understand the attraction of glassless 3D images and making Nintendo 3DS widespread,” says the company’s report (via Kotaku).
But instead of acknowledging that smartphones and tablets have eroded demand for single-purpose portable gaming devices, Nintendo pins the blame on a lack of education. Nintendo says it needs to “thoroughly encourage people to properly adjust the 3D Depth Slider” and add more content that can be viewed passively, such as 3D video.
Really? While I’m sure a lack of content and misunderstanding of the Nintendo 3DS’s subtleties aren’t helping, I find it hard to believe that these are what’s holding back the 3DS. More likely, it’s the $250 hardware cost plus $40 prices for new games. That doesn’t compare favorably to a $229 iPod Touch and dirt-cheap games, let alone the smartphones that an increasing number of people are already carrying.
In fairness, Nintendo has previously acknowledged the threat that should seem obvious to anyone who pays attention to this industry. “I actually think that one of the biggest risks today in our industry are these inexpensive games that are candidly disposable from a consumer standpoint,” Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime said in February. Nintendo Chief Executive Satoru Iwata echoed those thoughts at the Game Developers Conference in March, saying that smartphone makers and social networks “have no motivation to maintain the high value of videogame software.”
Still, it’s startling not to see a single mention of these issues in the report that Nintendo is putting forth to investors. Dissing smartphones at trade shows is easy. Figuring out how to tackle smartphones head-on is hard. Nintendo glosses over this issue at its peril.