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Konno: Nintendo 'Not Worried' About 3DS Competing With Mobile Game Prices
Konno: Nintendo 'Not Worried' About 3DS Competing With Mobile Game Prices
March 21, 2011 | By Staff

March 21, 2011 | By Staff
More: Console/PC, Design

Nintendo president and CEO Satoru Iwata and Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime have stated their opinions about the mobile and social gaming market -- the company wants to maintain games' "value" in the face of free to low-priced games.

Now in a new Gamasutra feature interview, 3DS project lead Hideki Konno suggested that Nintendo won't be releasing digital games on the handheld that drive prices down to the bottom, arguing that the strategy is in the interest of game makers.

"So now in terms of one dollar games, or free games, or whatever that is out there in the market, I mean, really, we're not going to be competing with that," Konno said.

"We're not going to try to match that; we're just going to continually strive to not just maintain, but increase, the quality of the entertainment that we're providing, and let it sort itself out. Again, we're not worried about competing at a price point level."

He said that viewpoint isn't exclusive to Nintendo, which sells retail 3DS games for about $40 each, and smaller-scale digital games for considerably less. "I believe that's more than likely Sony and Microsoft's opinion on that as well."

"Now of course as a customer, if somebody said to me, 'Hey, we've got Call of Duty on your portable device and it's only going to cost you 100 yen,' yeah, I'd be super stoked, really excited about that," he added.

"And I'd be really excited to see a great game at a really cheap price, but I just don't think that you could make a game that's immersive and as big as, let's say Call of Duty, or any other large title, and sell it at that price point; it's just not possible."

"The only way that you're going to get a game at that price point is if it's a limited version with limited levels or something," he said. "They're going to have to reduce it to sell at that price. So that other game -- because the content is valuable -- it's still going to be a viable product at a higher price point."

"If we went out and created one of our titles -- a big title for Nintendo -- and we decided to sell it at, like, say 100 yen, how many do we have to sell to get back our investment?" Konno questioned. "That number's insane. It's just incredible, right?"

"As a game developer I've put my heart into what I create, and I'm hoping that what I'm putting out there is something that people will be engaged by and entertained by," he said. "And as a consumer, I want the same thing. If I go and I see a game that interests me and I think I want to play it, I don't mind the fact that I have to pay a reasonable price for it."

"I'm not trying to say that I think games on cell phones are a bad thing; I'm not trying to say that they're worthless, or have no value at all. I'm just saying that they're just different."

For more from Konno on the creation of the 3DS, working with Iwata and Shigeru Miyamoto and more fascinating background to the creation of the device, read the full Gamasutra feature.

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kP09 HI19
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The industry is changing all over, in the past the money was in hardware, then in software, now it's somewhere between services and data. It's ok to 'not be worried about mobile game prices' now, because mobile game industry isn't stable, but soon or later it will be, and then Nintendo will suffer the effects of a mature mobile game industry clearly, I hope Iwata don't be intransigent and blind when the time to get worried comes.

Kris Morness
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If Nintendo Handheld is able to pivot, maybe they will release a next-gen handheld that focuses largely on digital distribution and SaaS models, rather than selling premium cartridges, or maybe even release a mobile device that is cool.

Otherwise, I would worry that they could eventually find themselves losing too much market share as mobile continues to bridge the gap. Some mobile games are on par with DS games, but are completely downloadable.

DS Process:

1. Go to store, find game, buy it for higher price.

2. Carry physical game around, insert it to play.

Mobile Process

1. Go online, pick a game, download for much lower price.

2. Play whenever you want without having to manage cartridges.

Distribution is the key difference, not game quality. Developers and consumers are both realizing it is a superior and more convenient model for distribution/accessibility. Digital distribution games will get better and of course, premium titles will still need to charge more, but there is a lot of room in the middle. Cut out manufacturing, physical distribution, and retailer's cut.

A historical $50 boxed title is sold to retailers for ~$30 and cost ~$5 to make and deliver. So the publisher pockets $25 on a $50 game. Switch to digital distribution? Hmmmmm. Win win.

warren blyth
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* Nintendo is just trying to say: phones and facebook are ONLY FEASIBLE for a few kinds of games.

If you want to develop and maintain a huge game, then stay away from smart phones.

If you want to purchase 99 cent games, don't expect them to have the depth and polish of Call of Duty.

Nintendo's goal with these statements is: to attract developers to 3DS, by promising the 3DS won't ever pressure them to drop their price.

Robert Green
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I don't doubt that's their goal, but the way they phrase it comes across as also implying that all games need to have that level of depth or nobody would want them. I challenge anyone to say that games like Angry Birds aren't polished though.

Certainly they can't expect to make Call of Duty for 99c, but the question I'd want to ask them is how much would it cost to make donkey kong in this day and age? Could you release that for 99c? What about SMB?

Jane Castle
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I wonder how long it will take for Angry Birds to show up on 3DS. I wonder what the price point will be?

Russell Carroll
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I understand the point, but from all reports Pilotwings Resort, a Nintendo 3DS launch title, underscores the problem with what Nintendo is saying. Pilotwings is reported to have 2-3 hours of game play. Let's go out on a limb and call it 4 hours.

4 hours for $40

That's not a rich experience that differentiates them. What it does is makes people look and say "Why is this so expensive? It's not worth $40 when I can get several great games on my iPhone at a fraction of that price that I'll play 10x as long."

I think Nintendo will have to provide both quality and quantity at that price. Just having a unique experience isn't enough to make the price justifiable to the consumer. They may buy once or twice, but after getting burned a few times customers will just stop buying altogether (exhibit A demonstrating this are Wii software sales, which have decreased while the install base has grown)

Kamruz Moslemi
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I'll take one good Nintendo game over a hundred great iPhones any day of the week, Nintendo is banking on there continuing to be enough of people like me to support them through the ages, I am inclined to agree with.

Cheaper games are never going to influence my buying habits, I like what I like and I can afford it at any given price.

Patrick Dunlap
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Unless You are talking about Kid Icuras 3ds- Kid Icuras NES has never been a good game :) . I understand where they are coming from with there argument. I haven't touched Infinity Blade, Angry Bird, or Doodle Jump In a good while, yet I still find myself having to go through update after update to remember they are still there. when you pay a certain amount of money for a game you actually do try and get the most out of it depending on how much you paid upfront.