News Article

Talking Point: 3DS XL's Media Potential

Posted by Gaz Plant

Look ma, no glasses!

One of the biggest shifts of the last generation has been the evolution of games consoles into entertainment centres, allowing almost all forms of media to be played back through your TV. It’s a far cry from the old cartridge systems when gaming ruled supreme, but thanks to their knowledge outside of video games both Microsoft and Sony have evolved consoles into multi-functional media units. This has changed expectations of gaming machines, and when something proves popular with the public the competition has to follow.

It has often been said that this is one area where Nintendo has fallen behind in the past generation, a fair statement as neither Wii or DS had much potential outside of providing a gaming experience. While stalwart gamers continue to maintain that a gaming console should always focus primarily on gaming, the simple fact is that the general consumer expects more from their system than ever before, and this is an area where Nintendo arguably needs to catch up.

The push towards more media-centric systems has even spread to handhelds, driven by the rise of tablets and smartphones and the wealth of software available at the touch of a screen. Sony’s most recent handheld endeavour, the PlayStation Vita, attempted to compete with this by offering a suite of entertainment options alongside the expected games line-up, but has so far struggled while offering, at best, equal software to smartphones.

Nintendo also discovered this problem with DSi when it first entered the realm of entertainment software on a handheld system. The portable itself offered a handful of media options, ranging from an MP3 player to a camera, but smartphones already offered both of these and in most cases exceeded the potential of the handheld. While it was a step in the right direction, it offered the same as existing technology, providing no reason to choose it over a smartphone.

And then 3DS arrived, which once again offered a suite of media options, including photo and MP3 software. While once again neither provides a particularly compelling argument to use the 3DS as a portable entertainment centre, the 3DS had one killer feature that put it above the competition – glasses-free 3D.

Pushed heavily in the pre-launch period, the glasses-free 3D is a feature that provides that all important exclusivity factor... offering something different and potentially better than the competition.

Pushed heavily in the pre-launch period, the glasses-free 3D is a feature that provides that all important exclusivity factor – outside of a few expensive smartphones or PC laptops/monitors — offering something different and potentially better than the competition. While the cameras may not be as powerful as a true 3D camera, it offers a cheap alternative to photograph or record moments in 3D, while also providing a brilliant handheld gaming experience. The net result is that the 3DS represents more of an intelligent purchase for the cash-strapped consumer.

But perhaps the biggest potential draw for the 3DS is the fact that the glasses-free 3D can also be used for downloaded video and media content. Nintendo’s pre-release conference played up this fact, showcasing deals with major movie networks to provide content to the system; since then we’ve only seen the introduction of Nintendo Video – in terms of 3D content — a weekly service that provides short cartoons or other videos, and the occasional eShop option to download 3DS game trailers.

The problem is that these are all short-form content, and are unlikely to make the 3DS an instant buy for someone looking for a portable 3D device. Another reason that may detract from a purchase is that the original model isn’t particularly suitable for watching video over a length of time — after all, the screens aren’t much bigger than a smartphone, making details harder to pick out. But now, Nintendo has an answer in the form of the 3DS XL.

The 3DS XL boasts 90% larger screens than its predecessor, and with enhancements such as battery life and a larger storage card it becomes a better 3D device for a consumer. The issue of screen size is diminished and it’s almost as portable, when closed, as its predecessor. There’s also the fact that 3DS now has a strong library of games, and with a price point not too dissimilar to the original system, 3DS XL becomes a very real contender in the 3D device realm for those on a budget.

But to really sell the system in this way, something has to change with the content available. A portable 3D device is still something very unique, and while the public’s love affair with 3D may be dwindling from previous heights, the promise of 3D content, available cheaply, alongside a stellar line-up of games could be a key selling factor for the 3DS XL moving into Christmas. That content needs to be available, however, and this is where Nintendo need to embrace more forms of entertainment to sell a console.

Clearly Nintendo is not a movie publisher, so it needs to create partnerships to put this content onto 3DS. We’ve already seen with Wii U that, if asked, Nintendo can and will go out and make partnerships with the biggest content providers in the business. In the U.S the 3DS already boasts Netflix support — as does Wii — out of the box, yet the actual media on offer is in 2D.

So if the providers are in place, where is the content? That is something Nintendo needs to be asking the providers. Nintendo doesn’t have the capacity to distribute long-form content, so instead it needs to turn to the providers such as Netflix to provide the 3D media that could push the 3DS XL as a real 3D entertainment centre. It’s certainly a technological possibility – allowing for longer download times for 3D movies, for example — and with the infrastructure in place, it seems remarkable that this content is still not available.

Of course, there are many other reasons to go out and buy a 3DS XL when it launches later this month, but as we approach the end of year sales period Nintendo could do with a secondary reason for consumers to love its new system. For the gamer there are titles such as Paper Mario: Sticker Star and Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon on the way, to name just two, but for the gamer that wants all that and more, there’s room for improvement. It’s up to Nintendo to actively pursue this market and create a unique portable entertainment centre, and 3DS XL is a real opportunity to do this. Doing the same as everyone else doesn’t work, but with its super-sized auto-stereoscopic handheld Nintendo has the chance to stand out from the crowd once again.

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User Comments (48)



Geonjaha said:

It's very true. The 3DS needs more than just 3D trailers and short cartoon clips to really fulfill its potential in this area - and I'd be inclined to pay for some of it once it actually begins to show some variety.



Wilford111 said:

I don't think Nintendo will be having 3D movies available any time soon; I mean look at WiiU still without DVD or Blu ray.



Chris720 said:

@C-Olimar AAC's only for the DSi. :/

@Wilford111 The 3DS is showing promise with video content, but it's very few and far between. Although there is Netflix as @GameCube said, it's not available in Europe so Nintendo are missing out on a large amount of people in that area.




Strangely Nintendo aren't marketing the actual 3D a lot recently. They don't talk about it much at all. The lack of real use of 3DS as a REAL 3D movie device is one of many reasons not to get an XL. Personally, I think Nintendo made a big error in not making the standard 3DS XL proportions at launch. The DSiXL was already around at this point, it was possible.



kyuubikid213 said:

@LEGEND_MARIOID Iwata himself said that they were keeping the 3D effect of the system hushed up a bit more now that the Wow Factor of a portable 3D device has died down.



Odnetnin said:

I'm personally completely over the 3D effect by now, even though watching Avatar in 3D on the 3DS XL might be a pretty amazing experience for the price. Not that we have 3D movies yet, or Avatar on Netflix.



Rococoman said:

I'm utterly flabbergasted that the 3DS, which is far and away the most widely owned 3D media player, does not offer popular 3D movies.

I can understand the technical and logistical issues with making this happen, but I am still shocked that no one has had the will to make this happen.



k8sMum said:

I wish nintendo would get in bed with Amazon's online service…it would fill in what Netflix doesn't offer.



Flowerlark said:

To be honest I could care less about 3D. This is entirely because I cannot SEE it. I bought my 3DS mostly for the upgraded features from the DSi- better graphics, netflix, and more multiplayer capabilities (streetpass among them) as well as for the games and downloads that come out only for 3DS. Even if I could see 3D I'm told that it's little more than a novelty that soon wears off. I'm more interested in quality content than 3D content. 3D may be why people come to it, but quality games and entertainment will be why people stay. I say they need not only downloadable blockbuster movies- 2D and 3D, but e-books as well. We saw 100 Classic Books (easily the best DS 'game' in my opinion) but what after that? With the 3DS XL's screen size, it will make for more comfortable reading than the other systems. And current Netflix content is crap. I have to dig for a long time to find anything worth watching. Why not get deals with Blockbuster online and other movie vendors?



LittleIrves said:

There's no way I'd want to watch a 90-minute film on my 3DS. Maybe the XL would change that, but for now I'm fine with the short video content. Much more interested in the eventual Wii U Netflix to watch content on the GamePad screen.
I'm a believer in 3D having a truly positive effect on games, and nearly always play with the 3D on (and have had it since launch), but I'm not sold on the 3DS as a 3D movie-player.



Kirk said:

Why is there no 3D movies on 3DS already?

To me that is just idiotic and a massive missed opportunity to get so many more people potentially buying the system because they could use it for more than just gaming.

If any of the the companies had released the 3DS with it's 3D screen they would have been all over that.



Squiggle55 said:

Here's a question - is there a difference between streaming a 3D movie for a glasses 3D experience on a 3D capable HDTV and the glasses-free 3D of the 3DS? If it requires different files and an entirely different 3D format I don't think it would happen with Netflix for quite a while. I would think that Netflix would first tackle offering 3D content for people with 3D TVs and glasses, and of course the Studios would have to make the files. So would it require a different file stream entirely to play something on a 3DTV and then on the 3DS? If that's the case I would think it's much more likely that the studio itself like Disney would just partner directly with Nintendo and put out cartridges or downloads for their movies that are formatted for the 3DS. But it would be very risky because there's no proof at all that the market/demand is there.



shingi_70 said:

Because netflix doesn't have 3D films in their catalog and nintendo doesn't have an avenue to sell video content on its own.



Hyperstar96 said:

I though the point of a game system was to play games on it. That's what it used to be, anyway.



Kid3dizzy said:

Nintendo know that it's a GAMING console. Besides Blu ray hard drives stop working after a while. My PS3 stop reading games and CDs after 2 years, never had that problem with the Wii. But I wish I could listen to music while playing games.



19Robb92 said:

I wouldn't mind a bigger multimedia focus for 3DS overall and the XL in particular since it does have bigger screens. We'll see. I'm not expecting anything from Nintendo.

Getting a 3DS XL either way though.



PuzzleMaster7 said:

It's a good thing I don't care about online features too much, or I wouldn't have bought all of the Nintendo consoles I own.



Alienfish said:

The only difference is that the resolution of the video would almost definitely be higher on the TV. Try looking at your 3D picture files on a computer and you'll see two files, one is a standard viewable .jpg and the other is actually just another picture. It would be about the same with a 3D video.



TheGreenSpiny said:

I think the lack of 3D movies is far less troubling than the lack of movies period. Can't you download movies to iDevice or tablet's? They need a service for buying movies for download on the 3DS. Then, maybe offer 3D movies at a premium price or something. That would certainly help it as a multi-media device.



Bankai said:

I can honestly not think of a less desirable device for non-gaming content as the 3DS.

3D aside it has a poorer screen than the Vita, and the screen is smaller than both the Vita and the iPad. Both those devices already offer hundreds and hundreds of movies and music streaming services.

The 3DS is uniquely poor for anything aside from 3D movies.



WaxxyOne said:

When Netflix for 3DS was announced, they were asked whether they would stream 3D content. They said at the time they didn't have it but they would look into it. Well, Netflix? Where is it?



Slapshot said:

A couple of great ideas, but sadly, I'm not sure if anything of the sorts will actually catch on.

The second arrival of 3D, like before, is quickly fading away. Sony has been the largest pusher of 3D and they've already started abandoning it, as it just doesn't sell. It's not just them either. Go to your local electronics retailer and compare how many 3D TVs they've got available compared to the new LED televisions. Even the theaters in my city are now showing way more non-3D movies than 3D.

I just don't think the 3D in the 3DS is what's sold the system to the majority of buyers — I enjoy it though.



Marakuto said:

The 3DS could have more content enabled even from other partners that Nintendo could work with, which is what they have done previously and now. The problem with the 3DS is most of the games that claim to have proper 3D that will co-operate with the 3DS' 3D itself, yet when you find games such as Harvest Moon Tales of two towns it isn't using the 3D effect at a full length.

Which is why i've seen people saying things that don't want the public to not seeing the potential which the 3DS holds, but lacks at the same time.



Vincent294 said:

The 3DS has some okay media options, though if media's all you want it's not the device you should choose right now. 3DS Sound is better than the Photo Channel (Wii) & DSi Sound for listening to music, but the inability to change playlist settings, lack of playlist organizing, and still being unable to play copy-protected songs are 3 things that could use some work, w/ the middle option being most important. The camera quality on the XL should've been improved at least a little, but it wasn't, and chances are it's too late to back out and fix it now. 3D wasn't a selling point for me, & shouldn't be, but it's a welcome addition. Netflix hasn't gone 3D yet, which it should, along w/ Hulu Plus, which is long overdue. A YouTube app would also be nice, and same w/ a web chat app as well. Add that, and the 3DS should be fine. Oh, and a music video section on the eShop wouldn't be half bad as well.



Neram said:

Multimedia options have always been a sneaky (or brilliant) way to sell consoles to people who aren't interested in video games. So from a gamer's standpoint, I could care less if I ever see movies or television or music videos etc. on my game systems. I find it oftentimes too expensive or that physical media wears them out too fast. But for consumers who don't care about games, I don't think it would hurt to try and appeal to them.
I'd only be interested in movies and TV on 3DS if it were affordable and convenient. I don't want to pay top dollar for a digital copy of a movie that I'm only going to watch on my handheld in standard definition.
A good example of an inconvenient service is Zune on Xbox 360. You can only rent certain movies or only buy certain ones, or buy and rent others. It's just a disaster and the prices are all over the place. As long as Nintendo doesn't do something like Zune I'd be fine with it.

Also, if Nintendo does sell out and start offering multimedia on their systems, for the love of all things saken please don't put Ads!



CowLaunch said:

Quite a few people, myself included, criticized Namco for including a 3D movie in their Tekken 3DS game. It is a truly awful movie.



Bankai said:

@thelastlemming ... and still lacks Music Unlimited and Sony Movies.

And beyond that, the quality of the screen on the Vita will still be higher than the 3DS XL - it's OLED. The only thing better than THAT is retina. Nintendo doesn't do retina displays.



RetroGBHippie92 said:

You know you guys are pretty lucky to even have netflix, the best we get, is what everyone else gets: Nintendo Video. I know, I can't believe Nintendo hasn't done this yet, but seriously, is anyone actually considering watching 3D movies on such a small screen? I'm not sure even the 3DS XL would help. I can't see the same effect being replicated properly on the 3DS as you get in the cinema, so i'm still pretty skeptical.
The reason i'm also skeptical is whether it would even be profitable for Nintendo and movie studios to even release full-length 3D content for the 3DS, I mean look at the GBA, that got a couple of movies and some eps of various cartoons, but you see what happened there, the idea of having any other media besides games (and the ability to play music), fails so much because Nintendo or who ever, isn't willing to continue the support beyond the initial support already given.



BudrSbastig said:

I don't care for netflix, because you will need a wifi connection, which in most case's means being at home, in which case i can watch netflix on my 60 " screen. I only buy my portable consol's to play games. On my vita i've never even opened skype or facebook. I use it and my 3ds for games only.



3dbrains said:

I enjoyed the article and I too agree Nintendo need to get their act together and get some 3D movie content available to customers. Recently we have seen the release of ONE short film. A good little film but only one.
Another recent update gave us an episodic series to buy.
I like the direction we are headed but it is not quick or broad enough.
I want to spend my money. I want WHOLE 3D movies. Not silly little episodes. Give me a film for crying out load!



alLabouTandroiD said:

3D movies on the 3DS or XL would be more of an extra for a me. I'd maybe pay for them on a device connected to my TV (maybe the Wii U) and would very much like being able to watch them on my 3DS without paying extra.



MAB said:

I would rather nintendo and 3rd parties put effort into releasing more games for my gaming console as my interest for movies and TV shows have completely dropped off the map as of late. Some people like these sorts of features on 'i' products and I don't think they would buy a 3DS just to watch a couple of poorly acted/scripted movies which is what this 3D movie craze has been all about since its debut. Avatar was hyped-up but ultimately all I viewed was a crap film with a glossy presentation and that has been the over used gimmick and downfall of 3D film IMO. I find it amusing whenever I walk into a store and see 3DTV less than a quarter of the price they were last year when the craze was in full swing ($8000 down to $1500 or even less now) never be a early adopter for new TV products because inevitably you are throwing away alot of cash for nothing in particular



Banker-Style said:

@CowLaunch It was a terrible piece of crap,that should never have been included,and shouldn't have been there,instead,there shoudl've been more game modes,and a better online.



UnseatingKDawg said:

I'd say video content wouldn't hurt; I just prefer to play games myself. But after Nintendo Video, I'd say they need to step it up; that service is severely lacking.



famestephy09 said:

Im personally pissed off with nintendo. First I payed 250 $ dollars for my 3ds and a game and I traded in my DSi too. Then two weeks later they drop the price to 169.99$ and gamestop couldnt do nothing nor nintendo. The ambassador games suck. Well 10 of them are good 10 of them suck the gba ones are good. which I rather of payed for the games then payed full for the 3DS. Then they make Midnight Purple 3DS. and purple is my favorite color and last they make the 3DSXL for 200$ while I payed 250$ for LESS, WTF FML. lol but yea I have a right to be pissed at nintendo. Dont you think?



BulbasaurusRex said:

Even with full-length videos, it doesn't solve the problem that the max volume on the 3DS sucks. You need to be in the quiet of your own home to understand any dialogue. For example, providing full-length episodes of the Pokémon anime at Nintendo Zone was a good idea, but it was ruined by the fact that you can't make out half of what the characters are saying over the general noise of a public place like McDonald's.



gundam00 said:

They're not gonna let you watch a 2.5 hour movie on your 3DS without being notified every 30mins to take a 15min break. Nintendo doesn't want you to play 3D games for long periods of time, they're certainly not going to let you watch a 3D movie!



DarkEdi said:

I´m from Mexico and here there isn´t Netflix 3DS service, only in Wii. Why?



NintendoGirl said:

I honestly think that handheld systems shouldn't be used for movies and such. Sure, it's convenient and all...but handhelds are used for games...right? I say why not keep gaming and movies separate? It's just my thinking....

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