Today, Nintendo surprised a lot of people when they announced the Nintendo 2DS – the third member of the 3DS family that doesn’t have the console’s titular 3D graphics (hence the name “2DS”). The console has received quite a divided reception, with some people in favour of it and others seeing it as the new Wii Mini. So that raises a very important question – who is the Nintendo 2DS for? To be blunt, if you’re reading this, then it probably isn’t you.
Nintendo of America President Reggie “Regginator” Fils-Aime has been quite open about the console, stating that it is intended as an entry level console for children under the age of seven, who are discouraged from playing games in 3D on every North American 3DS game box, due to it being harmful to the eye’s development at that age. The design of the handheld also reflects this:
The first thing that springs to mind is the lack of the clamshell design seen with every Nintendo handheld following the original DS. The reason for this is most likely to ensure durability. From my personal experience, when my or a friend’s 3/DS has broken, nine times out of ten, it’s because the hinge has snapped. This new design most likely means that the console is expected to endure quite a beating, as little kids aren’t exactly known for taking care of things. The lack of 3D and a hinge also means that Nintendo can sell this console for a lower price – with the 2DS retailing for £109.99 compared to the 3DS’ £139.99 and the 3DS XL’s £164.99, it is a much more attractive choice for someone looking to purchase a console for a young child, especially as the handheld is set to be released on on the same day as Pokèmon X and Pokèmon Y.
There is one odd thing about this approach though – due to Face Raiders, the console holds a PEGI rating of 7, so basically…it’s a 7+ rated system that’s targeted for people under 7. Sounds kinda similar to Seth MacFarlane’s Ted – a 15 rated film clearly targeted at people younger than 10 (that joke was probably funnier than the entire movie).
Speaking about attractive choices…admittedly, the design of the 2DS does look weird. It is roughly the same size as the regular 3DS, but the lack of a clamshell design does mean that it won’t be able to fit in pockets. However, how many younger children keep their games consoles in their pockets anyway? When I’m out and about with my nine year old brother, he’ll either ask me to put his 3DS in my pockets, my Mum’s handbag, or the glove compartment of our car – the 2DS will still be able to fit into a mother’s handbag (or a father’s backpack) and a car’s glove compartment. Personally, I feel that the new button placement could feel weird, but that’s probably just because I’m so used to the usual 3/DS button layout. The buttons being placed higher on the console and closer to the top screen is clear to me was a way of guiding a child’s eyes to the top screen, where most of the action takes place. This also means that they will be able to keep an eye on both the game and their own movements, which the button placement of the 3DS and 3DS XL does not allow for, which again, should make it easier for younger, more inexperienced gamers.
There is one glaring issue with the Nintendo 2DS though that numerous commentators have already picked up on though – the brand recognition. Every single Nintendo 3DS game is clearly labelled as being a 3DS software title and Nintendo already had to do quite a fair bit to persuade the audience that the 3DS wasn’t just the next DSi or DSi XL. For the uninformed consumers which this budget version is targeted to, this very simple difference in the name could cause some problems. One example IGN gave was someone walking into a game store, having just bought a 2DS and asking where the 2DS are, where the shop assistant will answer something on the lines of:
“The Nintendo 2DS can play both DS and 3DS games. However, there are no 2DS games”
I can see that being a pretty big problem, unless Nintendo re-brand their 3DS titles to clearly display that they work on the 2DS as well, such as the white banner being changed to say “Nintendo 2/3DS”, or a triangle in the corner of that bar (or next to it) saying something like “Can also be played in 2D on 3DS or 2DS”. While “Nintendo 2DS” is certainly a logical name, I do have to wonder if it’s logical from a marketing standpoint.
Some people have also questioned what this announcement means to Nintendo’s commitment to 3D technology; something they have been interested in since the Virtual Boy days. It is true that the 3D industry as a whole has declined since the buzz it received following James Cameron’s Avatar. The increased price of 3D movie tickets compared to their 2D counterparts and the lack of any real use of the 3D has led to many people simply not bothering – since the 3D boom, the only movie I have seen that I have felt uses it well, is Coraline. Cinema is most often dominated by live-action films where, due to the cost of filming, films tend to be converted to 3D in post production and this is the strength of animated films and of course, video games – they tend to be designed with 3D in mind, so they come across as a much better product and you can clearly see the difference. In comparison to live-action films, in the space of two weeks I saw Iron Man 3 in 3D, then in 2D. The 3D effect in Iron Man 3 was added in post production and was honestly, not very noticeable. However, I am probably the only person I know who constantly has his 3D slider all the way up – some games look absolutely beautiful in 3D.
Nintendo of America’s Steve Moffitt addressed this concern by stating that the decision to drop the 3D from the 2DS was simply due to manufacturing costs and wanting to achieve the lower, level-entry price point and that Nintendo are very much committed to 3D.
So in conclusion, the Nintendo 2DS’ purpose is to be a more affordable point of entry into gaming for young children, letting them enjoy the wide library of Nintendo DS and Nintendo 3DS games for a more reasonable price. It might have some issues ahead of it, but Nintendo do clearly know their market and who this is for. Personally, I am happy with my 3DS XL – but that’s because my age is 3x that of the 2DS’ target audience.