The 3DS eShop is entering its fourth month, but besides the 3D Classics series and Pokédex 3D, the only original software available for download is Let's Golf! 3D from Gameloft. As we look forward to the future of Nintendo's online shops and back at their predecessors, we decided to sit down with the team and chat about the Big N's digital platforms. Joining us are Julien Harazi, Global Product Manager, and Gonzague De Vallois, SVP of Sales & Marketing at Gameloft.
Nintendo Life: Tell us a little bit about Let's Golf! 3D for the uninitiated.
Julien Harazi: The Let's Golf series was created in 2009 with the first game being released on Apple iPhone and iPod touch, then on Sony PSP and Nintendo DSiWare. The franchise has since then been very successful. The mission of Let's Golf is to make golf more appealing by giving it an arcade feel. Players can choose among various cute and customisable 3D golfers and play in varied colourful landscapes. The fans of Let’s Golf all share a common interest: having instant fun with accessible controls. So this is what we focused on. Let’s Golf 3D is one of the first games available on the Nintendo eShop that uses all the features of the 3DS; the main one being that everything is in 3D and all the gameplay has been adapted to this. It is especially noticeable in the most outlandish golf courses, each having its own surprising mechanic such as sliding on ice in Greenland and bouncing against pyramids on the Aztec course.
NL: So far, Let's Golf! 3D is the only original 3DS game on the eShop. What made you want to embrace the hardware so early on?
JH: Gameloft’s strategy has always been to be at the forefront of new mobile devices and embrace new technologies as soon as they come out. That’s why we released Asphalt Urban GT at the launch of the Nintendo DS. So it’s no surprise we took part in the beginning of the eShop with one of our in-house flagship brands. The way we see it, it’s almost a self-fulfilling prophecy: If you launch great games for a system right from the start, it’s all the more likely that the system will succeed.
"Being able to update screenshots, prices or even games directly on the store would help gain both speed and flexibility."
NL: What made you choose Let's Golf! 3D as your first eShop title?
JH: We felt that the game was a natural fit for the 3DS as you’re constantly seeing your shots travel across the course, soaring over trees and through varied terrain. The eShop is like other virtual stores in that the audience is usually looking for casual fun, and that’s what this series was always designed to deliver. Plus, there really aren’t many sports games on the eShop yet.
NL: You've released plenty of games for DSiWare and WiiWare as well, two services that some studios are now decrying as relatively mediocre platforms to showcase titles on. With all the issues that these companies as well as Nintendo itself have admitted – games not getting advertised well to online shoppers, purportedly unfair pricing, etc. – Gameloft has faithfully returned to WiiWare and DSiWare time and time again. What's your take on these alleged negatives, and what's drawn your company to the services so faithfully?
Gonzague De Vallois: We have been very strong supporters of WiiWare and DSiWare since their launch as we view those services as a new and viable digital distribution channel for us. And while it is true that those were not perfect, we have adapted our support to each platform as a result – for example, our last title launch on WiiWare was in December '09 and last title for DSiWare was in November 2010.
NL: What do you see in the future for Nintendo's download platforms?
JH: The eShop looks like it has much more comprehensive and richer content than the DSi Shop. Nintendo has done a tremendous job in terms of design and making the experience more user-friendly and fun. As a result, we’re quite confident in the future of the eShop. I feel Nintendo has really learned from the past and used that to improve the eShop from every angle.
NL: Like you say, Nintendo's already begun improving its online scheme with the 3DS eShop, and plans to continue the streak with the Wii U shop. Where have you seen the most valuable improvement, and where do you think it still needs to focus more aggressively?
GDV: Speed and flexibility are two keywords in the digital retailing speed that Nintendo needs to embrace: stores that are easy to access with dynamic merchandising capabilities.
NL: How are some ways that Nintendo might become speedier and more flexible with the eShop?
GDV: Being able to update screenshots, prices or even games directly on the store would help gain both speed and flexibility.
NL: That certainly would be interesting. What about things that Nintendo hasn't yet approached, in terms of getting the eShop to where it needs to be? Achievements? DLC? More creative advertising?
GDV: While DLC/ IAP is a strong component of the digital video game business, it must be part of any OS or Store. Additional content that is new and fresh is also needed on the store to make it more appealing.
NL: Another thing Nintendo has mentioned that it's considering is offering automatic delivery of media to 3DS consoles – for example, game demos, trailers and such that would download while the console is in sleep mode and appear when you check the menu screen, or some equivalent. Do you think this would be a wise move? How would your company take advantage of it?
GDV: The good thing about connected devices is that you have the ability to stimulate usage remotely. On smartphones, push notification is broadly used by game publishers to interact with consumers. We could imagine the same type of functionality on the 3DS.
NL: So, what's in store down the road for Gameloft and the eShop, the 3DS and perhaps the Wii U?
GDV: We have not officially announced our upcoming line up just yet.
NL: Oh, alright. Is there anything else you'd like to tell our readers in closing?
JH: Let's Golf! 3D is a fresh and extremely fun new addition to the Let’s Golf franchise. The 3D effect lets you see each spin of the ball and brings each course to life. But this is just scratching the surface. There’s a lot of potential in the 3DS and we’re going to have to push our creativity further if we hope to show off that potential.
GDV: Definitely check out Let’s Golf 3D on the 3DS eShop, it is a great experience!
Nintendo Life would like to thank Julien and Gonzague for taking the time to answer our questions.