Nintendo on 3DS: 'Our biggest launch ever'
24th Jan 2011 | 11:42
Nintendo looks set for another hugely impressive launch this year, with its innovative handheld 3DS finally confirmed for March 25 arrival in the UK.
The handheld, which had both European and North American journos impressed last week at simultaneous showcase events, is set to cost gamers between £200 and £230, which Nintendo says is definitely "value for money".
In his seven years as Nintendo UK GM, David Yarnton has seen Nintendo rise to become the most successful platform holder in the industry. In that time, marketing manager James Honeywell has made it impossible not to notice the Nintendo DS - now the biggest-selling games console of all time. Both are very excited - and confident - about what the 3DS can achieve.
The pair kindly sat down to speak to CVG last week. In our chat the pair covered launch details, the importance of pre-orders, piracy and more...
A big impression we took from your Amsterdam 3DS press conference was the focus you're putting on third-party games. How important are titles like Street Fighter and PES for your 3DS launch?
Yarnton: If we look at it it's probably the broadest and biggest support we've had for any of our hardware launches. I think part of that is about what 3DS could bring to the market as far as opportunities for developers to do things that they did think were possible with their games going back.
For them to bring some of these iconic titles to market for 3DS at launch just shows how strong they see 3DS being. For us, we think it is important because it gives that offering... someone might be a Street Fighter fan, while someone else is a Resident Evil fan. We've got a plethora of support.
Honeywell: We've been really careful to make sure we've got a really wide range of titles. As David said, whether you're a Street Fighter fan or you like Nintendo classic titles like Pilotwings, or even for the more casual audiences who like things like Nintendogs... hopefully it's our strongest thing and everybody can find something that they really like.
Perhaps that hasn't always been true of launches and I think we're quite lucky in this launch that we've got such a wide range.
Yarnton: You mentioned Nintendogs... I remember going back a few years, I saw Nintendogs in Japan and came back and told the guys in the office about it, and they all poo-pooed on it. Then later on we got samples and all these big macho hardcore gamers I could hear in the office going, "here boy..."
I think Nintendogs will be a must for everyone. There's a soft side to everyone.
Honeywell: And puppies tend to bring that out. Noone finds puppies not cute. I think also the new technology we have now like facial recognition, being able to AR style project the Nintendog onto a table - those kinds of things will take it to a completely new level and I think people will find it really different to interact with them. It really is like a virtual dog that you have.
Yarnton: People who are early adopters - I think they'll be lots of titles. They'll want all the fighting games and then still buy Pro Evo and Nintendogs.
There's been some confusion about which first-party Nintendo games will be available in Europe on launch day. Have you nailed down which titles you'll have on day one?
Yarnton: We've still got to nail down the exact titles, because one of the big things when we look at a global launch - all of the markets in the space of four weeks - I think we have to do a fantastic job with hardware production and on top of that software, trying to get a whole range of titles ready for launch.
So we're pretty close. In the next week or so we'll be able to say 'these are the exact launch titles'. We're close but not quite ready to get exact titles.
Should we read into the fact that you're leaving the decision until the last minute, perhaps trying to slip another big hitter in there?
Yarnton: It's a combination of looking at third-party as well. We're launching with more titles than we probably ever have and it's a matter of trying to get that breadth but also being fair to everyone.
How many of those launch day 3DS purchasers do you expect to be hardcore gamers?
Yarnton: Without putting a number on it I think there will be a lot of early adopters of technology, not just gamers, because it's the most affordable 3D entertainment device you can get - and you don't have to wear glasses.
So I think there will be a lot of people who perhaps aren't into their gaming, but love their technology who will be looking to say 'I must have this piece of equipment because it does so many things beyond gaming'.
Honeywell: The other point is; what is your definition of a hardcore gamer? Now days those lines have really blurred. It's really weird - my mum plays more video games than I do. Is she a hardcore gamer?
Yarnton: She's a hardcore gamer!
Honeywell: To David's point, we know that there are certain people who like new technology and want to be first to have those things. There are people who like gadgets, people who like games... there'll be one of the 13 million people who already have a DS who'll want the next iteration too.
Yarnton: I think as well, for those people who wear the badge of honour saying 'I'm a hardcore gamer', I think they're just going to be blown away by 3DS because what we've got to offer noone else can; the game content, the experience, the ease of being able to play against someone else from all around the world... I just think it's giving them something that's going to make them go 'wow'.
We're seeing huge demand for the 3DS online already, so obviously there's some concerns regarding whether there are going to be enough to go around. Are you confident that your supplies going into that launch period are going to be adequate enough?
Yarnton:This will be our biggest launch ever as far as hardware goes. We're really recommending to our retailers to make sure they look at pre-orders - proper pre-orders with a deposit - because if we suddenly get to launch and we don't know what the demand is, we'll ship all the stock out and find out it's not enough. But if we get pre-orders it helps us with our forecasting and allows us to be able to make sure we can satisfy day one demand for people who've put some money down, and on top of that we get a better indication for production to make sure we've got stock coming through.
A lot of companies talk about pre-orders as a hype thing to try and get big day one numbers, but for us - because with hardware you can't just turn the tap on, there's a longer lead time - we need to get early indication of what the demand is.
Honeywell: I think for any of your readers it's important for them to get an early pre-order, is what I would suggest. Go to your favourite retailer and put your name down because giving us that indication early on will help us to make sure there is enough, if that makes sense. If everyone rushes out at the last moment it's very difficult for us.
Yarnton: And we'll make sure stock goes in the right places too.
Honeywell: Yeah, and check out all retailers because all of them will be giving offerings. If maybe you can't find one at your local retailer, try one of the other guys out there and I'm sure you'll be able to find one. I think we're pretty confident that people who want one will be able to get one.
Yarnton: When we looked at the numbers back in 2008 and 2009 on DS and Wii, we would've said we were confident of the numbers we were bringing in and then we were blown away.
You didn't announce an RRP in the Amsterdam press conference, but retailers have been listing 3DS for between £219 and £230. Is that in line with what you were expecting?
Yarnton:Yeah it's what we've heard, it's sort of anywhere around that up to £230.
It's the most expensive hardware Nintendo's put out in many years. Is it worth the money?
Yarnton: Most definitely. When you look at what it does compared to anything else on the market and beyond as far as not just gaming... once people get their hands on it it's is great value because it doesn't do just what they'd expect from traditional gaming.
A lot of the other features that are coming through with it as an entertainment device as well as just gaming - the downloadable content from people like Sky and Eurosport and those sorts of things... with 3D without glasses there's nothing else on the market at that sort of price.
Honeywell: You're right. Even just thinking about 3D in itself there's so much functionality even beyond that. I think it's one of the most complete packages we've ever done.
Laurent [Fischer] was on stage earlier saying we've given this really broad toolkit to developers - a broader toolkit than probably anyone's ever given with any console - and those things obviously come at a price. I think we feel confident that people will feel that they get value for money from it and they will feel that it's truly a new experience.
I really suggest that everyone comes down and has a go - find one of our events and experience it yourself because trying to verbalise how that 3d effect comes across is very, very difficult. It's all about getting your hands on it yourself.
Look out for part two of our interview with David Yarnton and James Honeywell early next week.