Written by Michael Rohde Saturday, 05 March 2011 11:17
Satoru Iwata, President of Nintendo, gave the keynote at GDC this year. The focus of his speech was to be on the history of gaming and his vision of the future. What wasn’t on the program was the 30-minute commercial that Reggie presented in the middle of Mr. Iwata’s speech. Through Reggie’s commercial, we learned that the 3DS will have Netflix support, 3D programming including 3D movie trailers without the need for glasses and other video services. The StreetPass mode will allow local connectivity and SpotPass mode refers to wireless broadband. Nintendo is teaming up with AT&T to provide 10,000 wireless HotSpots across the US so gamers can download content and play games, all of which will be automatic and free. In addition, you will not need the game in the hardware to play. The eShop and DSiWare, which includes classic games rendered in 3D, and links to your favorite websites are all coming in late May 2011. Reggie also announced a new Super Mario 3D title is on it’s way. We can expect to hear more at E3. And there were some hints and suggestions about a character with a tail? That part was shrouded in mystery.
Aside from Reggie’s infomercial, which made me start to wonder if I was at E3 instead of a developer’s conference, Satoru did provide his take on video games and where things are going. He does believe that social games are both leading innovation and at the same time killing the industry -- so much so, that if trends continue, it’s going to be very difficult for developers to earn a living making social games. In particular, he made the innuendo that certain phone manufacturers do not care about the quality of the content, and they are perfectly content at selling free or extremely cheap games in mass quantity that might not be the highest of quality. That type of mentality does not allow independent developers to earn money and in turn quality games are not being produced. He went on to state that Nintendo focuses on the value of the game and that content is the top priority. What’s interesting to note, is that between Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft, Nintendo is the company with the most amount of games, and they are also the company with the dreaded title of “shovelware” for much of their Wii titles. Is the advent of cheap social games on phones making Nintendo think twice about the quality of their games? With the launch of the 3DS are they now going to focus on quality and make a solid attempt at eliminating their shovelware reputation? If so, they might be trying to justify the hefty price tag on the 3DS titles.
On the other end of the social spectrum, Mr. Iwata did praise the success of the Call of Duty franchise, implying that was the direction to be headed.
Ultimately though, Nintendo’s main message throughout the keynote was that Content is King and quality is the focus. For many gamers though, it might be too little too late. For me, personally, the Wii has never been attractive and I’ve never owned a DS in that I just got into console gaming about three years ago. I did get to play a 3DS for a few minutes while on the GDC showroom floor, but it did nothing for me. I just have no interest in Nintendo or what they have to offer.
On the other hand, I did spot Sony’s NGP in a glass case on the showroom floor and I stood there and stared at it for a good long time. That thing is sexy. I want that. If it has the power of a console in the form of a handheld, I know what I’ll be playing on my weekday commute on the train.