Round Table: Let's Talk About the 3DS

You've come a long way, little one

Tom: Let's talk about the eShop. How would you assess that as it stands today? Again, a couple of sentences.

Ken: The eShop is OK. It isn't anything special, in my eyes, but it isn't awful. The prices we're expected to pay for decades-old titles are beyond a joke, though.

Katy: A good platform for smaller dev studios and indie releases, but the first party digital downloads are too expensive for my liking!

Mike: The eShop needs improvements to its layout, some adjustments to pricing would be appreciated...but really, I can't say too much negative about it when it's home to the likes of Pullblox, Fallblox, VVVVVV — eShop titles such as these have completely outshone much of the retail line-up for me.

Stephen: Well-supported and fun-filled. Only stickler is occasionally inflated pricing.

Gaz: Digital download has never been my sort of thing, I tend to only buy retail games (because I like boxes...) so I haven't delved into it that much. Although I did like Colors 3D! as an app (apart from the misspelling of colour...)

Katy: I'm with Gaz, I just love boxes.

Andy: The eShop catalogue is pretty massive now! It's great for indies and is absolutely essential if the 3DS wants any of the mobile market's pie. I think the games are well priced too, and it gives us the opportunity to pick games up without having to trawl eBay...

Orla: I don't use it as much as I'd like if I'm honest, unless a decent title for the Virtual Console pops up. I prefer my boxed copies, so will stay physical for as long as possible!

Martin: I dislike how expensive the retro games are - as a retro collector, I'm a fan of complete-in-box purchases. If the downloads were affordable, I'd happily double up for convenience's sake though. Otherwise, I think the other content is getting better by the day.

Jon: It's pretty solid so far, and even is home to one of the best games on the whole system: Pushmo! The eShop has proven to be a valuable asset to rounding out the library, although the Virtual Console portion leaves some to be desired — while there have been a handful of great games released, a year and a half in it still feels a little barren on the consoles offered.

Gaz: The 3D Classics were a good idea while it lasted. Apart from the earsplitting volume on Excitebike...

Dave: Definitely doing all the right things, they just need to keep it up!

Ron: The eShop exclusives have been very hit-or-miss, but that's to be expected with any games, including retail. My biggest concern is that the quality control is still lacking, like it was with DSiWare. A perfect example of this is that recently released Gummy Bears game. What a nightmare.

Tom: With Gummy Bears in the title, I thought it's be good... GUMMY!!!

Gaz: Was it un-bear-able? Yes I went there.

Andy: It really makes you paws for thought.

Martin: That's actually a pretty good point, Ron. Nintendo talks value when it comes to pricing up games, but then publishes some terribly rubbish here and there.

Tom: I'm indecisive at times on the pricing. I'm all for retaining value (though VC should be cheaper), and yet Gunman Clive has outsold mobile platforms because it's a good game AND it was cheaper than a bag of chips.

Andy: Well back in the day we'd be paying quite a lot more than we are on the eShop... a good game is a good game, so Link's Awakening for less than £10 is decent when you look at it that way...

Ron: I agree with Andy. As much as I'd love to see VC games for cheap, I'm willing to pay for great games.

Katy: Just checked the eShop. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Gates to Infinity digital download is currently selling at £34.99 on the eShop, whereas Nintendo are selling it via Amazon, boxed etc. for £29.99 with free P&P.

Nintendo needs retailers, so undercutting them out of business wouldn't be clever, regardless of what we want.

Gaz: Ouch, that's definitely something they need to sort.

Ken: Painful.

Andy: Yeah, retail downloads are baffling...

Katy: And that is why I think the eShop needs to be sorted out.

Orla: Oooh, that's quite bizarre.

Tom: Nintendo needs retailers, so undercutting them out of business wouldn't be clever, regardless of what we want.

Ken: And other systems all have the same issue. PS3 and 360 games are at least a tenner more than standard retail for the download version.

Orla: Boxed copy for me, can trade it in then after I've completed it!

Morgan: For retail games - everything except Animal Crossing! - I'm always going to buy the boxed copy. That said, I'm a fan of the eShop, especially for the localisation opportunities; HarmoKnight, the Denpa Men games, and the Guild 01/02 titles are some of my favourite games on the system.

Andy: Though download only retail games that we would never see otherwise are good (Ace Attorney 5). I really want Unchained Blades too!

Gaz: Layton's London Life wouldn't go amiss either...

Katy: Ken's right it is an industry-wide issue. I'm very happy Ace Attorney 5 is using the eShop in order to see release!

Tom: To tackle it from another angle, Nintendo's making a lot of noise about digital revenue, so how valuable do you think the eShop is (with its various offerings) to the 3DS' fortunes?

Jon: As long as Nintendo keeps on its path of being open to indies and developers I think the eShop has the potential to be a really critical asset — it's just a matter of fostering those relationships and encouraging developers to come on board. On the retail games side, I think people are still coming around to spending full price on digital games so right now I think it's in a somewhat healthy place with room to grow as consumer buying habits evolve.

Dave: I think developing any online store that allows the consumer to make purchases without leaving the house is an integral part of success this generation. It’s kind of a standard in all entertainment mediums these days, and Nintendo is finally keeping up and even besting some of the competition – which is great.

Morgan: I'm not sure - like I said, download games have been some of my favourite 3DS titles, but I'd only bought one (Pushmo!) before I started reviewing for Nintendo Life! I don't think it's a huge draw for most gamers. It should be, and maybe it will be since Nintendo seems invested in making it happen.

Ken: I don't think it's important at all. It's a nice thing to have, but the retail titles would more than float the 3DS if it wasn't there.

Andy: Very valuable, it's not just up against PSN and Xbox Live Arcade, it's facing Apple's App Store and Google Play as well.

Gaz: Fairly ineffective. Retail codes have only just appeared in stores and no word of a lie, I met someone the other day who hadn't even installed the eShop on their 3DS yet. It's not that well known to the general public.

Martin: I'm with Gaz on this: very few "outsiders" I meet know of the eShop, nor do I hear about people buying a 3DS purely to play eShop titles.

Tom: If memory serves the worldwide connection rate is 70%, but apparently 58% in Europe, which is appalling.

Orla: A cousin of mine hasn't even connected hers to the internet yet, hasn't even performed the first software update!

Ron: I hate to say it, because this is 2013 and everything is digital, but I agree with Ken. I can't imagine that it's really helping sales any more than retail titles are, and I can't imagine missing it if it was gone.

Mike: It's absolutely an essential part of 3DS for me, I've got tons of digital downloads. Some of the quality, smaller titles, such as the Guild-01 games, would never have come out here without it, nor would other 'risky' titles such as Code of Princess. It's a great alternative distribution channel for titles like that. Ace Attorney 5 might have missed out on localisation as Ace Attorney Investigations 2 did if the store wasn't available. By the way Capcom, if you're reading: put Ace Attorney Investigations 2 on the eShop please?

Stephen: I’d say it’s extremely valuable—perhaps more than Nintendo realizes. The ability to browse an online store and instantly purchase a game is a big deal these days, especially for a portable device.

Tom: I'm a bit surprised really! Is the download-only lineup (ignoring retail and VC) not a big part of your personal libraries?

And if not, why not? Games, prices, a mixture of the two?

Katy: I think Andy has a point - Nintendo does need to offer an alternative to XBLA, PSN and Apps.

Gaz: The only download title I own on 3DS is Colors 3D, and that's not even a game.

Dave: Personally, I don’t download retail games, but I do purchase tons of download-exclusive titles. I think the 3DS’ strong offering of bite-sized games at affordable prices keep people satisfied between the major releases, and that’s ultimately a large part of the consoles success.

Ron: I own a whole lot of download only 3DS games, but I don't think I would if it weren't for Nintendo Life.

Stephen: A good chunk of my 3DS collection is digital and I expect the number to grow, especially if Nintendo embraces the idea of regular sales. I just bought Crimson Shroud for $5, for example—and that’s really neat!

Orla: My last was Pullblox...

Katy: Pullbox is the only one I really play.

Jon: I've got a handful of eShop releases that I dig in to but most of my time is spent on retail titles. Love me some HarmoKnight though.

Gaz: Generally speaking I don't download games on any platform (unless they include the words Trip and Bit in them) so it's not an inherent problem with the 3DS for me.

Andy: Most of my games a physical copies, I've mainly got classic VC titles from the eShop... Though I will be downloading Animal Crossing New Leaf.

Ken: See, I can't see that it does need to offer an alternative to XBLA, PSN, and mobile apps. I think 3DS owners are more than happy with buying cartridge-based games that are of a high quality. The Wii U needs the eShop, sure, but for the 3DS, it isn't an absolute requirement.

Tom: And yet there's a steady stream of DL titles, with some developers continually coming back, so there must be a market.

Ken: Absolutely. I just think that market would be more than happy to use carts if the eShop wasn't there. It isn't a dealbreaker.

Andy: There's a big market in digital downloads, if Nintendo (or Sony and Microsoft) ignore it then they'll lose out on big revenues.

Gaz: I agree with Ken, it's there and obviously doing something, but if it disappeared I don't see the 3DS suddenly sinking.

Martin: Exactly my thoughts, too.

Andy: I agree, though I still think having the eShop is of major importance.

Katy: I don't think the 3DS depends on the eShop or digital downloads, but I think people would question why it wasn't there, even if they didn't personally use it.

Tom: I'm not saying 3DS would sink, but I think the eShop adds something, a mini eco-system and a bit of a niche market. Without it the likes of Starship Damrey, Mutant Mudds, Shantae etc wouldn't see the light of day. That'd be a loss, surely?

Andy: There are some games that wouldn't exist without the eShop, that's why I'd miss it if it went.

Tom: Or they wouldn't be on Nintendo. So yeah, I'm with Andy/Katy

We've referenced the strong line-up for the rest of the year, particularly first party. Looking ahead, is Nintendo throwing excessive eggs into the basket. What on earth is left for 2014?

Katy: There can never be too many eggs.

Andy: Mario Galaxy 3D.

Orla: Mario Galaxy 3D would be interesting, a new Kirby title would be welcomed, too

Gaz: That's certainly the risk, and one Nintendo repeatedly fail to address. 2013 looks outstanding, but there's nothing for 2014. But we say this every year and look what happens. There's always something, so I wouldn't write them off for 2014 just yet. Although a break would do wonders for my bank account...

Katy: 2014 has to be the year of Level-5 3DS games finally reaching the Western market. Fantasy Life, Time Travellers, Prof Layton vs. Ace Attorney - I'd welcome all of them.

Ken: I agree with Katy. More Level-5 would suit me.

Martin: There's certainly plenty of stuff they could explore - Pikmin, F-Zero, another Star Fox! Heck, why not a new IP?

Orla: Even if it is eShop exclusive, Katy!

Katy: No Orla, I need boxes to stare lovingly at!

Tom: Perhaps localised Japanese games will get a big push, especially as Iwata highlighted it as a priority in the financial reports.

Andy: Another Fire Emblem game wouldn't go amiss.

Gaz: Pikmin 3DS - Arriving Summer 2020.

Ken: A new IP, Martin? Come on, now... You're praying for rain, there!

Orla: A new EA title...

Katy: Haha!

Gaz: An unprecedented new EA title?

Martin: Very true, but the 3DS is in such a good place right now. It'd be the perfect way to introduce a new IP that could then perhaps transitioned to Wii U.

Ken: Well, if it's in the game then it is undoubtedly in the game.

Katy: EA always come crawling back…

Gaz: Like Kid Icarus?

Tom: Well, Smash Bros. could be a thing Holiday 2014, if we're very lucky.

Ron: Level-5 is too good to be real. That being said, Nintendo still has more tricks up their sleeves. They revived the Kid Icarus series, and no one expected that to be as great as it was. Admittedly, as I stated earlier, I got bored with it, but it was still a great game. There's also the potential for Mario Galaxy 3D. Nintendo knows that if they just wait it out long enough to start losing interest, all they have to do is release a new Mario game and people will flock to them.

Martin: Exactly, Gaz. I'd be surprised if Luigi Mansion 2's recent success hasn't caused Nintendo to consider a game for the Wii U

Gaz: So Ice Climbers Reborn it is yeah?

Martin: I was hoping they'd go with some Zelda CDi remakes...

Ron: Ice Climbers. Ouch.

Katy: It's all about Ristar 3D!

Ron: Forget you guys. Just give me that 3D Altered Beast.

Mike: I demand Layton VS Ace Attorney, and there's got to be a Kirby game sometime soon — I'm surprised there hasn't been one already! Digging up some other old franchises wouldn't go amiss. You guys joke about Ice Climbers, but I genuinely do want a new one!

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