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Talking Point: Could AR Games Drive eShop Sales?

Posted by Mike Mason

Augmenting profit

Nintendo made a big deal of augmented reality at 3DS' launch, but it's all gone a bit quiet on the gaming-on-your-table front aside from scant appearances as extra modes in titles like Kid Icarus: Uprising, or in its various uses in horror games that don't cut it.

The 3D overlay technology, through which games and avatars can appear to dance across any surface of your choosing, is still very much the fashionable thing, though. Sony hopped onto the train with PlayStation Vita and there are an increasing number of efforts for iOS such as AR Defender; the market is ripe and ready for more. Could Nintendo use the interest in AR games, and its small existing portfolio of such mini-games, as leverage to push traffic towards the eShop?

Six cards were nestled in the 3DS box on launch day, unlocking worlds in which you could battle fiery serpents that emerged from the hidden depths of your coffee table, fish for koi in your carpet and scribble over the walls of your apartment without invoking Bowser-level wrath from your landlord. The earliest game that could be considered '3DSWare', Face Raiders, was also bundled in so that you could shoot friends, family, cats and magazine cover models in the eye. In the console's initial days, augmented reality was as much a selling point for 3DS as its headline autostereoscopic 3D screen.

It's perhaps surprising then that there have been so few further AR experiments in 3DS' first year. Pokédex 3D brought AR 'mon onto your screen but didn't do much else, and Japanese release Denpa Ningen RPG hasn't reached us yet. Other aspects of the system, such as StreetPass, have received updates, but not the poor old augmented reality suite. There are surely plentiful opportunities to expand upon the existing games: 'find the country'-style educational games on the palm-sized globe, new monsters to enrage in Target Shooting, further poses or actions for those famous Nintendo characters unlocked through the unique cards.

If Nintendo wants to up the pace of online uptake and digital sales over the next few years, developing more AR games could be a good way to go. When Sony released PlayStation Vita it aped Nintendo by including a pile of fancy blue cards in the box to use with free AR software. Its approach differed in that the games playable with them weren't pre-loaded onto the system – users had to log on to the PlayStation Store, signing up for a PlayStation Network account in the process, to claim their titles. Thanks to this clever incentive, Vita owners were introduced to Sony's downloadable wares from the very start.

The creation of new AR games could be an important cog in the gears of Nintendo's online strategy. It's still a cool new thing that people like to mess around with, and by releasing new titles solely on the eShop, for free or even a small but impulse-appetising fee, there's a decent chance that the store would enjoy a greater number of digital footfalls from new users encouraged to connect their systems online for the first time. Those fresh-faced users would not only get themselves some clever new games to show off to their friends, but also become more aware of the Internet capabilities of 3DS. They might even spend money on other products that catch their eye.

The revelation of two new Pokémon AR apps suggests Nintendo isn't done with this arena yet, but there's plenty more opportunity with augmented reality. More unique, simple titles along the same lines as the existing AR software would appeal to the largest range of people, but there is always the chance to take bigger IP in new directions. Perhaps Mario could find himself leaping from the arm of your sofa, with multiple marker cards used to map out a course. A new Star Fox could have the crew battling Andross around an unsuspecting pet. Or, for a real money maker, the return of Game Boy Color's Pokémon Trading Card Game — with Kid Icarus: Uprising-style physical cards and pop-up characters — would be feverishly welcomed by many.

Do you think that the eShop could benefit from new AR games? What would you like to see Nintendo do with augmented reality? Let us know in the comments below.

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User Comments (36)



Chris720 said:

There's so much more they could do with AR games, but it just depends on whether developers or Nintendo will continue with it. I would really like to see some more AR games available.



Whopper744 said:

I am not a Pokemon kind of guy, but I thought of that before. AR cards that battle like that would be great. I wish the Kid Icarus ones had a little more to it then what they do.
I would buy Kid Icarus cards off of the eshop. I bet it would go great for Nintendo if they would try this with Pokemon.
I want to see more use of the AR functions, but it does kind of suck that the 3DS doesn't have that good of a camera.



TrueWiiMaster said:

I would LOVE to see a new Pokemon TCG game. The first one is still one of my favorite Game Boy games. I don't know how I feel about it needing actual cards to play, because they can be pretty expensive, but I'd be excited either way.



BenAV said:

AR is cool and all, but it seems that you need to have a really light room to even get it to work (it doesn't work in my lounge with the overhead light on) and it's just a bit of a hassle.
I wouldn't mind some cool AR features from time to time, but not too often.



ScreamoPichu said:

If there was actually a goal to accomplish in an AR game that was more than getting points it'd be cool. And of course one that'd work. I'd like to see a GOOD AR game come about exclusive to the 3DS.



Dodger said:

The problem with AR stuff is that with the horrid 3DS camera, you need the best lighting ever. The only room in the house I can get the AR cards to work in is the bathroom. The living room is rather dim so I wouldn't expect them to work there but the computer room is bright, my bedroom is bright, the kitchen is bright too. And even when it works, you have to keep it pointing right at the AR card or it stops recognizing it. It barely works any better outside. If you have to play on the surface of the sun to make it work then I don't get the point.



WreckItRyan said:

Wow I can't believe I didn't think about the Pokemon TCG idea... I could die happy with that.
queue feverish welcome



Squiggle55 said:

I'm not crazy about AR as it is now with the cards. I guess I don't understand the technology, but why do you need cards to do it at all? Face Raiders seems to work fine without cards. It's frustrating when a game stops because it lost sight of the card.



paburrows said:

I probably wouldn't buy anymore AR games, it was a fun little diversion, but not reallt something practical enough to play through a full game. I didn't even bother finishing any of the games that the 3DS came with.



Geonjaha said:

AR Games have potential to be very good, but they are more likely going to end up being boring, badly made etc. If two retail horror releases got 1/10 and 3/10, I dont think any AR eShop release would impress.

With the 3DS' camera, the quality can also only go so far, and that's holding it back a lot as well.



Undead_terror said:

it would be cool to have a fighting game with ar,either like photo dojo or mii fighting but of course it should be extra content,i really wouldnt want it if you must need ar but more like a realality stage



Samholy said:

i dont mind to have it as a gimmick like kid icarus did, but no game based on this. its simply unreliable. a subtle move can break the whole Ar animation/game.
its fun at first, but its not the future of gaming yet.

face raiders was fun, but got old fast. plus its unplayable outside or in public, unless you dont mind looking like a dumbfool or risking someone grabbing the 3ds and run away.



MrArcade said:

i have found that the stand that came with kid icarus is helpful for AR games.



Kirk said:

Nintendo's been making a big deal out of lots of cheap and not very high quality gimmicks lately.

It's a bit disconcerting.



Lyndexer said:

I remember when they first announced the AR cards, I though they were all able to battle. It was a real bummer once I used the cards.



Chris720 said:

As Objection said, why not bring in card games? I would love to see a Pokemon rise out of the card and start battling... with the Kid Icarus: Uprising AR cards, I think Nintendo could expand on this and make it a lot better, maybe even have a whole card game within the system.

Be fun fighting and trading cards around schools again... but this with virtual reality.



famestephy09 said:

The camera function of the 3DS is poor. Infact I feel like the DSi camera is better then the 3DS one. I would like a future update to improve the camera quality for the 3DS then Also going on the AR topic new ar games would be a great thing too. Maybe an extension of games to buy with play coins in a update or free download from the E shop. Nintendo did showcase Augmented Reality a lot in the 3DS launch but it hasn't been that great or new. Nintendo could do a lot more with the 3DS but no complains. I love the 3DS but theres no deni that Nintendo can certainly add and upgrade to it. So Nintendo should get on it.



eleven59 said:

They do sell these like baseball cards right? Go to a store and buy a pack of cards with cards ranging from Random upgrades, characters, and "dlc" type content? Complete with limited edition 1 of 1 on card cut pieces of classic Nintendo game cartridges and autographs.... Just like in sports cards... Lol



Slapshot said:

It's not for me. It's a cool gimmick, but a short-lived one. I've still not even tried the free AR Games on Vita and/or all of the 3DS ones either.



JayEm said:

Nintendo and Game Freak should work together to make Pokémon Trading Card Game -software, where real TCG-cards would actually have AR-information in them and you could see AR-mon's in the 3DS screen while playing real TCG.



Luffymcduck said:

If that means less cards per booster or making them more expensive, then no. Like after e-Card set they dropped the amount of cards from 11 to 9. At least we have 10 cards and an online booster code today. No need for Pokemon TCG on 3DS, we can play it in real life or in the internet already.



cammy said:

I loved the AR idea and the potential seems missed complete. I had imagined being able to buy a board game and then using your 3DS to play on top of that. Like a real time strategy game, directly controlling pieces or even a action game where you're a helicoptor shooting zombies. Or if you play DnD and having a battlemap and using your 3DS to view and control the battles... of course none of that seems to have materialised at all.



alLabouTandroiD said:

AR's rock.
It's kind of a shame that the initial AR games weren't updated since they could profit from more achievements and online leaderboards.
Face Raiders and the dragon were really mind-blowing in these first few days of the 3DS. I'd love if such exploration was used in point & clicky adventure games.
Your idea about having more than one AR card and using 'em to outline a path sounds good. I hope someone uses it. Rotating the AR cards to trigger different actions also seems to have potential if technical limitations don't ruin the fun.



rjejr said:

As others have said, the 3DS camera needs a whole lot of light. Even in my south facing w/ bay window living room the boys have difficulties getting the Kid Icarus AR cards to work. And when they do get it to work it never lasts long as you really need to hold the 3D steady. (They didn't like the stand.) Unless they can get the camera to work a whole lot better (3DS Lite?) there's no point in trying to market these games.
OTOH, my kids really do like FaceBreakers, so more of those types of games, like the Pokemon one seems to be, would be welcomed.

I've messed around w/ AR Defender on my iPod Touch, and it is a lot more forgiving. I've printed out all 3 size cards and it works as well on my desktop as sitting on my couch playing on the living room floor. The Touch also has a $20 My3D Viewer that lets you play a handful of minigames that should work on the 3DS (even though they don't use the camera, just the 3D, but same idea).



DaveGX said:

I've always imagined beingable to use the Ar cads in the same sense of yu-Gi_ohand all the big name TCGs Though now that Kid Icarus is back in action, (And I'm so totally psyched it's finally returned, I simply can't can't get enough and I'm dying for more!) I I'd love to see more of these cards as well. Although I think Ar may have a long way to go when talking about real interaction using the world around it via the cameras. it isn't bad idea at all, though; I'd love to be able to find way more interactions of AR in play with our own world, tons of possibilities and potential there. if it sells, works well in Nintendo and the devs' favors, keeps the audience interested, I'm all for it; More retail AR cards, more AR everything!



nindocrash said:

@BenAV i've hav the same issue with the required lighting. there is a way to get around this problem. take a picture of AR cards with a phone, or something with a backlit display, and view them with 3DS AR software. it really works for me. c:



Kitsune_Rei said:

I was thinking its been a while since they touched that feature- I know I'd like to see them do more. It seemed strange other things were getting updates, but the poor original AR viewer never saw one, plus the new KI cards didn't work with it.
I'm really looking forward to Denpa Ningen. Also looking forward to the Pokemon apps.

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