Wired.com recently had the opportunity to discuss the future of the 3DS with producer Hideki Konno, hoping to discover what we features early adopters may expect to find in the months and years ahead. When the 3DS launches in less than a week, those who buy early may find it lacks several features many have come to consider standard in their portable devices, such as an internet browser and online game store. While these two features will be available sometime in the next couple of months, what about other elements, such as text chat, demos, and sales?
According to Konno, Nintendo is considering integrating a text chat experience into the 3DS, as that would be something “interesting to do,” although no plans have yet been made. Considering how Nintendo has inched a bit closer to the modern world with a single friend code and the ability to create a friends’ list, and how much Nintendo is touting the connectivity of its new device, it seems strange that the device currently has nothing akin to the PictoChat, or even more traditional messaging (ala PSN or XBLA) included in the system.
When it comes to demos, Konno is more ambiguous. While he hints that the “always on” functionality of the 3DS may enable you to wake up to surprise demos, he also questions the usefulness they bring to encouraging sales:
“I question whether or not demos are effective. . . . There are cases where people play a demo game and they’re satisfied with that play experience and they don’t buy the game. There are also times when they play a demo and think, ‘Wow, this is great, I’m going to buy this when I have the chance.’ So whether or not it’s an effective use of resources, I’m not sure.”
My guess would be that demos, if they ever do appear on 3DS, will be akin to the limited demo system on the Wii. Only a few games will get demos, they will arrive only months after the initial game release, and then will only be available for a limited time, but only time will tell if Nintendo acts otherwise.
Konno was even more doubtful about sales for its downloadable titles. Currently, Nintendo is the only major platform that never discounts its downloadable games, unlike PSN, XBLA, Steam, and the App Store. So even though initially it looked like the 3DS e-store would indeed offer promotions from time to time, based on Konno’s skeptical view of sales, it seems unlikely.
Personally, Nintendo’s approach to the 3DS, backed by Konno’s comments, reinforces the idea that Nintendo is behind the times when it comes to digital distribution and online connectivity. While I wouldn’t expect to see the e-store necessarily become the app-store with $0.99 content all the time, having a few sales from time to time that would offer 25%-50% off select titles would be nice. I also know that many demos have convinced me to play a game I otherwise thought I wouldn’t enjoy, so it is also disappointing that Nintendo is so seemingly against offering these in the same way that other platforms do. Of course, only the future will tell, but it seems like the 3DS was Nintendo’s huge opportunity to “get with the times,” but they are stubbornly going to continue to do their own thing, despite what customers may want.