After a busy week of announcements, reactions to announcements, and Nintendo Life’s epic appearance on the eShop (we had to mention it), it seems like a good moment to sit back and take a deep breath. With so much news coming out of Nintendo’s Tokyo conference on 13th September, as well as localised press releases in Europe and North America, it can be difficult to keep track of it all. We thought we’d select a few of the biggest announcements and share some thoughts on their impact and what they mean for the 3DS and Nintendo. To get the bad news out of the way, let’s start with stock-market reaction.
Stocks tumble, again
It seems that whatever Nintendo does at the moment, stockholders and investors don’t like it. Despite Satoru Iwata unveiling an impressive range of game titles – more on that shortly – Nintendo’s stock value, according to Reuters, dropped 5% in trading after the press conference (Update - following a valuable observation from user 'zeeroid' and some additional research as a result, it seems that Nintendo stock stayed about the same after the conference, with Reuter's article apparently mis-reading the stock trends. As stocks didn't appear to show any growth and investors still voiced concerns after the conference, the rest of this section will remain unchanged as a reflection of perceived investor unease). Reasoning for the drop in share prices was linked to two factors, the first being that, once again, mobile phone gaming was taking over the market, weakening Nintendo’s position. Detailed analysis of that will be covered another day, but what we do know is that Iwata is not considering smartphone games, so investors can forget about that.
The second reason given, by Makoto Kikuchi, CEO of Myojo Asset Management, was that Nintendo didn’t show an emphasis on “Wii-type games for the whole family”. While there was no Wii Sports, that is probably because, if investors failed to notice, the 3DS is actually a handheld gaming console. On the one hand investors promote a switch to a smartphone gaming model, devices that boast mostly short-burst single player games, while also seeking Wii-style family gaming; this seems like a contradiction in terms.
The argument can be made, even if important figures working in the stock market don’t agree, that Nintendo brought more accessible titles to the fore. Mario Kart 7 will allow multiplayer fun and accessible gameplay, while titles such as Style Savvy, Animal Crossing and Mario Tennis will provide a variety of game styles to gamers of any experience. There’s also a pink 3DS on the way; not everyone’s favourite colour, but there is surely a market for that iteration of the console. The threat of smartphones remains, but Nintendo is backing its products to triumph; if the quality is sufficient, maybe its faith will be rewarded.
The Circle Pad Expansion
Whenever a news item related to the Circle Pad expansion is posted, it seems that it prompts a lot of debate. Without talking about the timing of the announcement or some of the possible implications — we’ve already done that — let’s just look at the announcements themselves.
The peripheral will be released in Japan on 10th December with a price of ¥1,500 (around £12), released in line with Monster Hunter 3 G. Perhaps more surprising was the number of major titles announced that will support the device, including Resident Evil Revelations and Metal Gear Solid Snake Eater 3D. The case of Metal Gear is particularly interesting, as its release in Europe and North America was pushed to 2012, while there is still a strong likelihood that the title will release this year in Japan. We’ll indulge in some mischievous speculation and say that this could be an example of a developer holding back for availability of the peripheral and the extra control options that it provides.
Interestingly, hands-on impressions of the expansion are making some positive noises, with talk of a comfortable, curved “feel” and a perfectly reasonable size. There appear to be issues for some with the left shoulder button and awkward access to the volume slider, but after the maelstrom of negativity that engulfed the leaked magazine scans, the tone seems to be shifting.
Issues around this device won’t go away, as the continued interest and debate around it continues. While arguments about the original 3DS design, the early arrival of the expansion and the much-predicted 3DS remodel continue to rage, there is a sense that this peripheral is starting to shift opinion. With the publisher of the Call of Duty behemoth coming out in support, it probably has a chance.