September 22, 2013
Nintendo Is The Master Of Reinventing The Same Thing
This fall Microsoft and Sony are going head-to-head with the release of their next generation video game consoles. The release of the two consoles may be just days apart. Nintendo got ahead of the game and released its next generation console last fall, though the Wii U hasn’t sold entirely well.
So, to capture some of the attention, Nintendo this past week announced a new handheld gaming device. The groundbreaking handheld that follows the Nintendo 3DS is the Nintendo 2DS. Yes, that’s right. It went from 3D to 2D. At the same time Nintendo dropped the price of the Wii U by $50, bringing the cost to $299 on September 20, Kotaku reports.
This really shouldn’t come as a surprise. The console game is very competitive. Nintendo at this point has somewhat been left on the sidelines as a casual gaming device, while Microsoft and Sony gear themselves to reach hard core gamers. That doesn’t mean Nintendo won’t try a few tricks to stay in that game. Lowering the price on the console and introducing a new handheld is part of that.
It’s the “new” console that is really interesting here. OK, it’s a little bit more than a Nintendo DS with a new design. USA Today did a hand’s on first look at the handheld gaming device. Surprisingly, USA Today’s Brett Molina says the new design is comfortable. The new design may actually do well since we’re used to tablets. So the tablet-like format might have a new cool factor that the old clamshell design that closes like a laptop may have lost.
Nintendo will release the 2DS on October 12 for $130, well ahead of the November releases of the Microsoft Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4. But there’s something to be said about Nintendo coming up with a new design of an existing system. Nintendo is actually the master of reinventing the same thing over and over again; and then sometimes another time for good measure.
In this case, Nintendo refreshed its handheld game when it graduated from the Game Boy to the DS system. I don’t think I need to go into the GameBoy history, except to say that it saw many versions – and many colors – over its lifespan. The DS franchise is turning into that same lifespan. Of course when Nintendo first announced the DS ahead of its release there was much head scratching about the two screens, one touch screen and the size. But then it became quite acceptable.
The first DS was a little clunky. It was later followed up with a slightly more compact version with cleaner lines and not a lot more improvement. That was the Nintendo DS Lite. Then the Nintendo DSi was released, which had better connectivity and some nifty things kids could do with the system’s camera. Then Nintendo released the DSi XL just to make parents buy yet another Nintendo handheld. Later Nintendo released the 3DS, which was able to produce games in 3D without the need of glasses to see the 3D imaging. While there is a wow factor, the handheld has been a little bit lukewarm.
Oh, and each of these systems has been released and re-released several times in many different colors and special editions, including several tied to Pokemon games and other tie-ins.
The release of new systems with a slightly different shape or new feature helps the “But Mom” factor, where kids have to have the newest version of the Nintendo handheld, even though they have one of each, or they can’t go on living. The question is whether kids will pull the “But Mom” trick to get the Nintendo 2DS in October, or even this holiday season. And will mom, or both mom and dad, buy a system named 2D when they bought their kids a system named 3D just a year before. It’s all in the marketing, and Nintendo plays this game quite well.
Image Credit: Nintendo