News Article

Talking Point: 3DS eShop Deserves Big Franchises

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Boosting digital downloads

For many Nintendo gamers, we suspect, the release of New Super Mario Bros. 2 looms large as the highlight of the next gaming month. Even if the game doesn’t innovate the plumber’s series in any major way, the purchasing options do just that. For 3DS owners it’ll no longer be a case of simply picking up a boxed game cart from a retailer, but there’ll be buying options with download codes or a direct download from the 3DS eShop. The latter option will be an important first for the eShop, and its front page will show a full retail option alongside cheaper downloads for the first time.

It’s another sign of progress for the online store, which has undergone a redesign and a number of small but notable improvements since launch. It’s also seen an expanding and increasingly impressive library of titles, even if there is the usual glut of mediocre disposable titles included. Nintendo, of course, has been at the vanguard, introducing quality titles and new IPs in the process: Pullblox – Pushmo in North America, Dillon’s Rolling Western and Freakyforms: Your Creations, Alive! have all arrived and currently occupy top 10 places on the eShop 3DS Download chart, with the latter now prompting a retail follow-up. That’s undoubtedly positive, and with some excellent third-party offerings — as well as the DSiWare library – the eShop is in relatively strong health.

In light of Nintendo’s competition in the handheld space, however, a decent performance for the eShop is the bare minimum requirement. 3DS may be enjoying reasonable sales at the moment – exceptional in Japan, if not elsewhere – but it faces a continuing challenge to convince gamers of all types, not just loyal and dedicated fans, that the system offers unique, must-have entertainment. Retail games will continue to play an important role in that, as Nintendo sticks with a business model that works best for its consoles — despite naysayers who believe otherwise — but perhaps even more can be done to drive 3DS owners into the eShop, boosting their play-time and enjoyment of the handheld while making the store an indispensable and a big attraction for developers.

Two iOS/Android smash hits and a Mario spin-off are the top DSiWare titles, which gives an indication of what gamers want from the service.

The obvious answer is to bring Nintendo’s big-guns to the platform. If you look at the top three best selling DSiWare titles – according to the eShop chart – then you’ll find Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again! in third place, trailing behind multi-platform behemoths Cut the Rope and Plants vs Zombies (which is 10th in the overall eShop chart), the first and last on that list also released, in some form, as a DS retail game. Two iOS/Android smash hits and a Mario spin-off are the top DSiWare titles, which gives an indication of what gamers want from the service: quick and fun games often found on smartphones and tablets, and a title featuring Nintendo’s most famous mascot.

The eShop and 3DS capabilities means that Nintendo can now provide a broad range of content on the service, even moving beyond the conventional standalone games we've seen so far; taking lessons from DSiWare but expanding into new possibilities. With Mario's latest soon to arrive as the most expensive and substantial game on eShop, perhaps Nintendo should prepare two types of future DLC. We already know that it plans to bring us more ‘Coin Rush’ levels as DLC, but what if the same young team of developers behind the title also produced a couple of additional worlds, or about 16 levels? These two worlds could be available as retail add-ons, but also as a stand-alone download for around £6/$8. Similar content could be devised for other titles such as Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7, with extra levels and courses that could be downloaded either as updates or standalone games. As more retail titles, both first and third party, arrive on eShop, these smaller games can attract gamers to take the full-priced plunge.

Of course, the danger of that idea is that we see unscrupulous DLC business practices, with developers giving less and less content with a full game only to release extras for more money at a later date. An alternative answer is that we see more spin-off or retro-themed titles of major franchises at an affordable download price. Long neglected franchises could make a comeback as download titles, lowering the development cost and giving desperate fans a much-needed fix. F-Zero and Star Fox spring to mind, as both have been absent for long spells or wheeled out as a Nintendo 64 remake. Perhaps an old-school side-scrolling Metroid Fusion, or frankly any handheld title in that series, could also make an appearance, and the success of Mighty Switch Force! and Mutant Mudds shows that gamers have an appetite for stereoscopic pixel-based 2D titles. If Nintendo is unsure about whether either would make a splash as a full-blown retail title, there’s a chance to test the waters, give more of its developers big-name experience and promote the eShop as a high-quality platform.

How likely is it that we’ll see these ideas come to fruition? We’d argue that they’re all possible, especially if Nintendo is as keen as it says to maximise profits through download software and the eShop: while the first-party games would hog attention, gamers simply being in the eShop regularly boosts all developers. Hard-nosed business aside, we suspect many Nintendo fans would rather see smaller, bite sized downloads of much loved franchises than nothing at all, as the pressures of retail development only get harder. When New Super Mario Bros. 2 appeared in the Japanese eShop Nintendo’s servers struggled with demand: we’re sure that if Mario and friends appeared on the digital store at less than $10, new servers would definitely be needed.

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User Comments (46)



Bass_X0 said:

I've been saying this since the WiiWare. Stick a Mario platformer on Wiiware/eShop thats not available at retail and people would flock to it. Or complain its not retail.



Odnetnin said:

"Pullblox – Pushmo in North America, Dillon’s Rolling Western and Freakyforms: Your Creations, Alive! have all arrived — while occupying top 10 places on the eShop 3DS Download chart — with the latter now prompting a retail follow-up. That’s undoubtedly positive, and with some excellent third-party offerings — as well as the DSiWare library – the eShop is in relatively strong health."

This article seems to be kind of all over the place (although all of the idea do involve big franchises, I guess), but I agree that we need more high-profile, first-party stuff on the eShop.



ThomasBW84 said:

@Dark_Oddy_Rises Removed some hyphens for you, better? Naturally I disagree that it's 'all over the place', but fair point with the excessive hyphens in that section, time restraints and all that

DSiWare's example of top games is an interesting one in terms of what really sells over a sustained period. Getting actual sales figures is almost impossible, but it'd be interesting to see hard figures.

EDIT: Updated one paragraph intro to link the DSiWare point with the idea of extensive DLC and standalone updates to retail titles.



LittleIrves said:

I've hoped for big-name small games for some time on WiiWare/eShop, but it's a thin line to walk. I imagine some of the fervor that accompanies the release of a long-neglected franchise like F-Zero or Starfox is that there's been no sight of it for years.

If we received little mini tastes of them, in the form of these small downloads, would it increase our excitement for a proper full-length experience? Or would it quench our thirst so we don't buy the eventual, expanded game? What I'd do: Have B-teams develop more 3D Classics, and give the main teams time and money to work on proper-length games. I would LOVE to see a 3D Starfox (SNES) with a fluid framerate and everything else intact (music, polygonal graphics, etc.)



Odnetnin said:

@ThomasBW84 Much better. I wasn't trying to be as critical as I probably came off, it's just that there were a lot of ideas in the article (it posits that there should be smartphone-type games, big Nintendo franchises, new DLC for existing Nintendo games, more obscure Nintendo franchises, etc.), though I suppose it was a fairly big subject to tackle and the article was pretty well organized.




I'd love some DLC level packs for retail games Ninty is doing a good job with eShop so far, I just hope they don't become complacent with what they've already done. They need to do much more honestly, but they've had a good start



Martyn said:

Agreed completely!
They could even just release sequels to older games, Mario VS Donkey Kong (as mentioned) would be great or Mario Bros. Or new versions of Dr. Mario, Wario's Woods, Pokemon Puzzle League, etc would be pretty sweet. (all with Nintendo Network features such as online play) Or Balloon Fight...actually get on that one NOW Nintendo!

Smaller off shoot titles related to upcoming games would also be a good idea and would be great promotion for them.

What i'd do for a new Wario Land though...

They have so many IPs and options available that they could utilise!



SkywardLink98 said:

I think the eShop would be a great way to release modern games done in the style of retro! LoZ and Metroid are perfect examples of games that would work well with this idea, because both have moved onto 3D adventures leaving 2D behind. 2D titles are easier, quicker, and cheaper to produce making them perfect candidates for eShop iterations.



Rawk_Hawk said:

I'd like to see a new 2D Metriod and while they are at it how about a new Metriod Prime Pinball with 3D.



scakko84 said:

Give me a downloadable Metroid Prime Pinball and i'll buy three from the eShop.



Emaan said:

The eShop is great already, but I'd love to see some of these ideas become the real thing. All these new potential series being introduced is great, but a major Nintendo franchise getting a mini, download-only release would be awesome.



Martyn said:

@3DSonicPizza All Nintendo published games (or 1st party at least, i forget which...) will be digitally available on the eShop starting with New Super Mario Bros 2 so no worries.



Emily_Rogers said:

The one thing I love about the eShop is it allows Nintendo to experiment with new IP's and franchises like Dillon and Pushmo.

But I do see the article's point. Nintendo franchises would get more people logging into the eShop.



Bobhobob said:

They should take each of the Nintendo Land attractions, optimize them for the 3DS, put some subtle 3D in and stick them on the eshop for 4 bucks a piece



ecco6t9 said:

It's a mystery why some of the older DS games never received DSiWare/eShop rereleases like Polarium,Magnetica,Theta,Touch Panic,Yoshis Touch & Go,Kirby Canvas Curse.



Hokori said:

I wish they'd put older 3DS games on the shop, so I can DL tales of the abyss, Pokemon rumble blast, Mario tennis open, and kingdom hearts



jlenoconel said:

I think the 3DS deserves bigger franchises in general. I don't see why we cant have ports of all the major console games like Resident Evil 6, Marvel vs Capcom 3, Tekken X Street Fighter. If the Game Gear and Game Boy could get Mortal Kombat II when it was a much, MUCH weaker console than the 3DS.

The eshop needs to be improved A LOT for me to actually be happy with it. Not impressed with it so far.



Mathieu_W said:

I agree with the idea of launching new games from classic franchises through the Nintendo eShop. I have an idea: why Nintendo don't launch a new Mario Bros (not Super Mario Bros but the classic Mario Bros played on a single screen with pipes at the top and the bottom and a POW block) with new twists ? It would be great !



NintyMan said:

I think the eShop would be a great place to revive IPs like Ice Climber and Balloon Fighter for today's gamers along with recent, dormant IPs like Star Fox and F-Zero.

Think about it, it wouldn't be much of a risk if they made those retro-age games digitally instead of physically for stores. If they became big-enough hits, then they could make another game for the 3DS or Wii U and then you'd have a revived series.



FluttershyGuy said:

I'd love to see Nintendo do what Konami did about 3 years ago with the "ReBirth" series. That was seriously awesome getting old school Castlevania, Contra, and Gradius on WiiWare! They were all quality releases (I think Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth won Nintendo Power's WiiWare game of the year) and satisfied a thirst for new entries in those franchises. Who here would love a similar classic-style Metroid on WiiWare/3DSWare? Even if it were just a tiny adventure for Samus that lasted 3-4 hours, I myself would snap that up! Nintendo absolutely should do this (as should 3rd parties... Konami was on the right track back then).

And maybe the first thing that crossed my mind hearing about NSMB 2 being on eShop was "DLC WORLDS!" I hope the DLC announced for NSMB 2 is only the first step, and such things as new worlds for it, and tracks for Mario Kart 7, are the kinds of content we see in the future.

I agree with that. I think it would be a great testing ground for would-be revived IPs, and allow fans to play a new entry in forgotten series for the first time in decades!



Supremeist said:

I'm already sucked into buying digital games on PlayStation and I like them on disc better. Sure, It's good that the disc wont "break" and the case doesnt take up space anywhere but still.



shinobi88 said:

eShop NEEDS GBA games and as many retro-styled side-scrollers as possible, like Mutant Mudds, Mighty Switch Force, and Johnny Kung Fu. A version of Nintendo Land needs to be made specifically for 3DS



Henmii said:

"3DS eShop Deserves Big Franchises"

I said from the beginning that Nintendo should use their download-devices not only for totally new stuff, but also for experiments on old franchises! For example, they could try crazy things on the Zelda-franchise and if people like it they could bring those things to a proper retail Zelda! But did Nintendo listen? Of course not! This also applies to other developers! Other developers could also experiment with their franchises on Nintendo download-services!

Well, at least I am happy that they bring some new stuff now that is actually interesting! I mean: After alllll those Artstyle games (don't get me wrong, those could be fun. But so far I didn't have the urge to download them), they finally bring stuff like Sakura samurai (wich I am still waiting for since I live in Europe), Dillon's rolling western (wich I still need to properly play. I didn't have the time yet) and the excellent Pushmo! New interesting stuff with new characters! That's a good thing!



Magikarp3 said:

I'm probably on the minority here, but I'm a little tired of retro-styled side scrollers. I mean, Mudds and MSF (VVVVVV is yet to be released here) were great and I enjoyed them a lot, but the Gameboy VC is also full of fantastic platformers. What I liked about the eshop was that it could let smaller developers experiment with new ideas and get their games out without pulling all the stops on a retail release, like with Dillon's Rolling Western and Freakyforms, where gameplay styles aren't targeted to every consumer that walks into a retail shop but instead interest a select few which the game would be best suited for. So yeah, tl;dr I'd like to see more experimental titles on the eShop and find some unique experiences which wouldn't have been feasible for cartridge release.



TheGreenSpiny said:

Great article Thomas. I agree with just about all of your points here. The eShop would be a great way to give people long neglected franchises. After seeing what Shin'en did with Fast: Racing League on Wii Ware, I have no doubt Nintendo could could do a full blown F-Zero for the eShop. I would be great to see a new 2D Metroid game on the eShop, maybe alongside a WiiU 3D release. (Kind of like Nintendo's old 1-2 punch of Fusion/Prime) I would pay for DLC for my favorite games if it wasn't something lame.

I think Nintendo needs to keep at it. Give us more sales, don't price the DL games so high, and keep pumping out more stuff. There really is nowhere to go but up.



ViRtUaLbOy11 said:

@LittleIrves - Your a man of my own heart! I've thought about a 3D Classics, SNES StarFox for so long now, I could practically produce the game myself at this point!I would definitely also really love to see an online multiplayer focused sequel to Metroid Prime Hunters roll out on the 3Dizzle~ (courtesy of NST, whom did an amazing job with the original. For we all know Retro's "Extremely Busy" at this point on THE Wii U StarFox game we've all been waiting for, for the past 6 or 12 years, depending on how you look at it). And not to mention how cool it would be to see a SEGA follow-up to the heavyweight F-ZERO GX on the gamecube, also with a heavy emphasis on online connectivity. (could you imagine the leader board competition for that game?).- all 3 of which could be great, high quality, online focused, "Fixes" for our hardcore, deep seeded, Nintendo itch- while being priced affordably for the masses on the eShop, and keeping development costs down.

Let's do it Nintendo. Chip chop...

Oh yeah, --in childs voice-- and please give us really cool headsets for our super awesomely, rad & gnarly Nintendo 3DS's so we can look cool while talking to our friends across town & country, completely immersed in all these sweet new games we just spoke about. Amen..



TheAdza said:

Needs GBA games on the VC stat.
Needs more 1st party eShop originals
Needs some sort of social games along the lines of Words with Friends and Draw Something. Not those exact games but surely Nintendo can come up with something similar with a unique twist to it.
And yes the eShop needs some games that star their existing IP to be exclusive to the shop.



Chunky_Droid said:

I enjoyed both Tingle games on the DS, they were hard to get, so it wouldn't be a stretch for Nintendo to experiment by adding some hard-to-get DS games onto the eShop.

Also, experiments with old franchises would be vastly welcome for both the WiiU and 3DS, especially for things like Ice Climbers and Mach Rider.

They've shown that they can be awesome with old franchises in the past, Excitebike is a classic example.



RVN said:

I can't help but having the feeling that nintendo is trying like crazy to maintain old fashioned things, when they could just throw 1st party big things on the internet and make the fans feel nice.
But they won't hear, promises like the one the title of this article suggest have been made through 3 years now and failing to fulfill them.
I'm sorry, but i'm really starting to feel like i'm not a ninty fan anymore, hype about games is going pretty downhill, i realized this while playing zelda: minish cap for the first time at the beginning of this summer, i felt quality in there, quality i tell you, the only recent thing has made me feel the same is mario kart 7, save for the fact that there were some of the new circuits based on "filler titles" to mario series, heck, even a mario-tennis track well designed could do better than that neo-koopa style circuit, which game has appeared it in anyways?, because i think i missed it... intentionally.
I know they are trying hard, not sure what they are trying.



citizenerased said:

This seems like such a no-brainer but Nintendo always confuses us. I guess bringing a Mario platformer to the eshop is a win, even if it's not an exclusive. But it seems so obvious that they should release a sprite-based Zelda on the eshop. Let Capcom develop it like in the good old days. Low development/publishing costs, they're sure to make a profit, and promotes the download services hugely.

Also, Nintendo should invest in indie developers more, like they did with Fluidity/Hydroventure.



ViRtUaLbOy11 said:

@TheAdza - Good call on the "WORDS w/FRIENDS" & "Draw Something". I've been wondering for a while why EA hasn't released a SCRABBLE for the service yet.
The tech is obviously there to pull off any number of these games. I mean, is it some kind of a demographics issue I'm not seeing?
If investors, and developers alike, are all over the Big N's back about developing for iOS & android, they could at least wait to fuss after they've initially attempted to bring the IP's that sell so well on those devices over to the eShop, and give it an official go around before they bitch any further.
It seems to me that ALL THREE of those IP's would fare extremely well on the eShop.
I mean...... "DRAW SOMETHING"..??? No brainer right there. -A



alLabouTandroiD said:

I can only repeat what i said when i first heard Ninty wants to do DLC.

Free DLC for online-games is fine. I don’t know about paid content though. Having to pay for new stages or tracks only really leads to a divide of the userbase imo. That’s something I don’t like to see. Especially not by Nintendo.

When it comes to paid content for single-player games I don’t just want new stages, levels or dungeons without any real context to them. A quirkier approach to Mario saving a princess, Sheik, 3D Metroid Zero Suit gameplay, Meta Knight, StarFox wingmen in their own spaceships with their own objectives, ...
So all in all I want Nintendo to see DLC as the special and amazing opportunity it is. To make something that’s not exactly as mainstream as the full games but has great potential in gameplay and just would make fans of their games scream in joy and excitement. I see the Half Life episodes or Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare as rolemodels here.

They could also be offered as individual downloadable games. People who bought the main games would get a discount on them since without their support these nice little games wouldn't even exist. Additionally you may attract gamers who are a bit tired of the tried and true Ninty characters and gameplay but are looking for fresh, great experiences.
Heck, i wouldn't even mind if they were episodic downloads. I'd just love them to become a reality.



Windy said:

Ive been gaming for 30+ Years and haven't been as disappointed with gaming as I have this passed couple of years. I can't put my finger on it but I think its re-release after re-release Now and in the future. I don't think these companies are capable of making anything New and innovative. Sure the Re-releases have a few extra control options or some slightly added content but essentially are the same games. The 3DS has been very dissappointing. First off I bought a 3DS not a gameboy and they are loading up the Eshop with gameboy games simply because Nintendo has no new software to offer. Hello! this is a playstation 2 powered machine not a gameboy powered machine. I didnt pay the extra bucks to play old gameboy has been games.

Guys you have a wonderful sight here. I wish I had discovered sooner. I am hanging up my Nintendo systems and opting out for android online gaming. I really wish The 3DS had been better with the online play. A couple years ago Reggie promised us a Robust online service for the Wii and the 3DS and neither system has received this. I'm sorry but the Mariokart doesn't make up for all they could have and should have done as far as online is concerned.

I do play Heroes of ruin and its a real nice online experience although short. Square did an excellent job for a first Run through especially in story presentation. However its a game that ends to quickly.

It's been to long now with the 3DS and wii as far as online gaming goes and I don't think they will recover at this point. The Eshop offers some really bad 3rd party games and rehashed gameboy games. Like I said I bought a 3DS not a gameboy. If I wanted to play gameboy games I would pull that old skeletin out of the box and play it. i'm sorry but Nintendo should be quite embarrassed. Maybe its the way console gaming is headed I don't know but if it is I think its safe to say that Android and even apple will Dominate gaming in the future. Guys I hate thinking this way I want nintendo to succeed but someone really should let them know if a game stinks in the eshop. It's really weird that every single game has a good rating when you look. but the truth is that over half the games are terrible. I think Half is being kind.

Lastly I hope there can be turn around here. The 3DS is an awesome system it should have a ton of awesome games to go with it and not just a handful. The system did not just come out its been out long enough to have some great games. It does have some awesome games but in my oppinion not enough

Sorry for the doom and gloom rant but seriously I wish someone would let nintendo now it's time to make a change and get on the ball!



Windy said:

Don't get me wrong guys I love my 3DS and really hope the future will be a better run. Right now there are just better options out there. A mistake in the above post is that the system is a playstation 2 powered machine it should be treated as such first and foremost above classic releases. Nintendo your fired! LOL Just kidding ****Hires gamers to take over****



UnseatingKDawg said:

I will agree with the author here. These are very good ideas, but think about it. If Nintendo actually pulls through with this, they're gonna have to buckle down and release titles at a MUCH faster pace. Especially at the rate the games are released in the UK and in the USA. If they keep their slow pace and not improve, it's going to suffer more than it has to.

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