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Is Smash Bros 3DS's earlier release a bad idea for Nintendo? [roundtable]
 
One of the biggest pieces of news from the recent SSB Direct--and one I think warrants some discussion--is that the 3DS version of SSB is hitting stores this summer, while the Wii U version is slated to arrive at the end of the year. Which is kind of the opposite of what many people were expecting and hoping for.

This is a pretty strange move to me, for a couple reasons. For starters, there's no doubt in my mind that the 3DS's early release will hurt Wii U sales. I've already heard people ask why they should get the Wii U version if it's got the same roster and just has different modes and such. The Wii U desperately needs killer apps--each one is an oasis in a desert, and it's bizarre to me that even Nintendo's own series can't be exclusive on their home consoles anymore! The 3DS, on the other hand, is doing fine and dandy; even if Smash never arrived, it'd probably go down in history as the best-selling system ever.

In terms of my own enjoyment of the series, a SSB game's release is an event like little else. I spend months, or years, speculating on the roster, absorbing every bit of media that releases, and generally getting caught up in the hype. Knowing that the 3DS version is the one where I'll be first introduced to Smash's takes on Mega Man, Villager, Wii Fit Trainer, Little Mac etc is a weird feeling. It's like, I know I'll love it, but it'll be somewhat off-putting knowing there's a better, "cleaner" version of the game coming a few months later. Almost like I can't enjoy it to its absolute fullest.

And speaking of which, what of when the Wii U version hits? It won't have that completely fresh, I'm-so-overwhelmed-by-all-these-characters punch that SSB64, Melee, and Brawl all shared. I'll have already mastered several characters, unlocked everyone, become very familiar with the way they control and interact, etc. It'd almost be like buying an HD remake or something…very strange.

On the plus side, playing SSB by this Summer almost sounds too good to be true. And for what it's worth, both versions are shaping up to be amazing (among the best on their systems, easily). I just really wish the releases were switched a bit, even if it meant a big delay for the 3DS.

What do you think of the whole 3DS first, Wii U later thing?

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Posted: 04/09/14, 09:06:15
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I actually think it's a smart move, for a number of reasons:

1. Wii U games take far more time to develop. If the 3DS game is finished, Nintendo shouldn't just sit on it. They need more games on both systems. The 3DS lineup so far this year hasn't been as exciting as it was in 2013. A huge summer game for the portable is great news.

2. Many non-portable gamers who love Smash are now going to have a very hard time resisting a 3DS purchase. It will have been eight and a half years since Brawl when Smash 3DS is released. That's a loooong time to wait and hardcore Smash fans are going to give in to the hype and grab a 3DS. They're already sold on the Wii U version...now they're going to buy both.

3. As great as the 3DS game is going to be, it's quite clear the Wii U edition is going to be superior. Smash is the ULTIMATE party game. You aren't going to see much local action on the 3DS version. The Wii U game is the one people are going to be playing years from now. It'll likely be huge at events like EVO. It's going to sell just fine.

4. Let's be honest - Smash Wii U isn't going to magically save the system at this point. Nintendo and Sakurai should just polish the game until it's ready, release it and have a great piece of software on the platform. It's going to sell quite well and if the next Nintendo console is BC, they'll have a whole new set of people to sell it to once that launches. The time for Smash to save the Wii U is pretty much gone at this point. Nintendo is probably aware of this and it'd just be better to have the game be as good as it can be when it's ready.

Edit - One thing that does bother me a bit is the identical roster. I'd be pretty excited if each version had four or five exclusive characters and it'd make the two games even more desirable. These really are two different games in a lot of ways, so I don't see why they should have the exact same cast.
Posted: 04/09/14, 09:32:26  - Edited by 
 on: 04/09/14, 09:39:26
If fans found out Nintendo sat on a finished game because they wanted to wait for the Wii U version to finalize, they would receive a lot of backlash. Either way they can't win in this situation. There are a lot more 3DS users than Wii U users and not every individual that would buy a 3DS has a Wii U. I understand for someone like you or myself that may buy both, the luster may be lost. With that said, I'm willing to bet most of the people that buy the Wii U version will go into it fresh since plenty people just don't do handheld gaming. Only in this board we have Mr. Mustache off the top of my head and I'm sure I'm forgetting another anti-handheld individual. After all, I read in a survey relatively recently about how most of the people that buy games are adults between 25 to 40 (or 30 to 44 roundabout) My guess is that they don't feel like looking at a tiny, low res screen for extended periods of time, or whatever else they probably don't game on handhelds as much.

Of course this is all conjecture on my part. I wonder what was the official statistic for the people that owned both a Wii and a DS (any version) last year.
Posted: 04/09/14, 10:15:16
Hell no! It one of the few moves that actually makes sense. First, the Wii U version being HD, more detailed visuals mean that version would take longer to program. So, why just have the 3ds version sitting on the shelf, while waiting for the Wii U version to be completed? If both versions were released at the same time, many people who might want both, would have to choose just one version cause they couldn't afford both.


The 3ds's installed base is like 8 x's the Wii U's. So releasing the 3ds version sooner, esp. in the summe when there usually isn't much competition in the videogame market makes sense. Then, when holiday season rolls around, those who already own both 3ds & Wii U, will be ready to play the ultimate version of Smash Bros (EVER!), either purchasing for themselves or by receiving it as a gift. I'm sure there will be Wii U/Smash Bros bundles available as well, thus helping Nintendo to increase the Wii U's installed base. I also predict a small price drop for the Wii U as well. Somewhere around the $259-$279 range. I'd bet money on it.
Posted: 04/09/14, 10:54:15
First of all, I'm thoroughly sick and tired of caring about what Nintendo does from a company standpoint at this time in my life. Once upon a time I cared SO much (spent day after day arguing their decisions and sales stats, and for what?) but now I just don't. If they closed up shop tomorrow I'd be sad, but I'd continue on with life and know they had a great run. Life's too short to worry about if they'll survive or not, or what would help Wii U sales, or whatever.

That being said, this decision of theirs to release the 3DS version first absolutely solidified my purchase of both versions instead of just one. If they released the same day, ain't no way I would have bought both. Why? They're just too similar. However with the 3DS version coming this summer, I won't want to wait until allllllllllllll the way until Christmas to play a new Smash Brothers! I want it now, darn it! And of the two, I would have passed on the 3DS version (I'm the only person I know with a 3DS) but certainly gotten the Wii U version, to play with old friends who grew up together with the original Smash Brothers.

On top of that, I know for a fact this is another plus 1 sale of not only the 3DS version, but a 3DS SYSTEM. One of my friends is completely and utterly obsessed with Smash Brothers. He doesn't buy consoles anymore (PC and Steam only) but he keeps asking me when the new Smash is coming so he can get a Wii U to play online. Over and over, and I keep saying "I DON'T KNOW." Well now I know, and the fact that the 3DS one can be had in summer, and we can play that online too, will absolutely make him go buy a 3DS in a few months. And he would NEVER have bought one if he had the Wii U version instead.

So bravo, Nintendo. This decision may hurt you in the long run, or maybe it won't who the heck knows, but boy howdy did you just score a few extra sales with this choice. And you scored a few more fan points in my book, because I'm all for games releasing when they're ready and not waiting for some other version to be done YEAH I'M LOOKING AT YOU STUPID RAYMAN.

(And really, can we stop worrying about their future? They'll be here as long as they're here for. Our worrying isn't going to make a single lick of difference.)
Posted: 04/09/14, 13:34:32  - Edited by 
 on: 04/09/14, 13:36:20
Eh, I think this'll be a different situation from what happened with NSMB2 and NSMBU, where the earlier release of the handheld title dampened the excitement for the console version. For one, I think the core Smash audience is going to be on consoles. The 3DS version has always been more of a curiosity to that crowd. Some of them, like JKR's friend, will double dip because of this and some of them will simply continue to anticipate the console version.

I think the one risk they do run, though, is if the 3DS game is cooly received. What if the Melee obsessives pillory this new version? It could, perhaps, melt off some of the hype for the Wii U version. But, in general, I think Smash is one of those evergreen highly-anticipated titles. I don't really imagine the core fanbase of that series is going to waver very much.

I'd also add I was surprised to learn the rosters would be the same. That seems like a missed opportunity from a business standpoint. At the very least, a couple of bonus characters for the U version makes sense to me.
Posted: 04/09/14, 14:34:29
I don't think it matters which one they release first. Either way, Nintendo is getting your money.

It's a kingpin move. Either way, it's win/win for them.
Posted: 04/09/14, 14:35:55
If we are looking at this from the business side of things, this would have to be considered the right move. The 3DS has a lot of momentum behind it, is currently sitting through an "off" year thus far, and the system has a large fanbase already established. The Wii U is not any of these. You'd also be struggling to convince people who went out and bought a Wii U for Smash Brothers why they should buy the handheld version months later. It's much easier to convince people to upgrade, compared to what can be seen as a "downgrade".

I think Nintendo is banking on Mario Kart to swing them through May, possibly E3 to give a lot of wind in the sails, and then end the year off with Smash Bros.

We should also take this as a sign that they've got no heavy hitter planned for the holiday season for Wii U this year.
Posted: 04/09/14, 16:34:19
It's smart on their part to encourage people to buy both...Still I feel like a lot of people will get the 3DS game, and then wind up underwhelmed with the Wii U version (or wind up not wanting to shell out $60 for it). I hope we don't see something like the split between Monster Hunter 3 on Wii U and 3DS. Different example, obviously, but I think it could bear some similarities. Once someone has the 3DS game, will they really want to shell out $60 for essentially the same game?
Posted: 04/09/14, 16:34:35  - Edited by 
 on: 04/09/14, 16:57:42
It's tough to say. The Smash market is on consoles so far, of course, although the 3DS being way more popular than the Wii U might give the 3DS an edge. But I imagine the decision had something to do with wanting to get the console fanbase to check out the handheld game... and then still buy the console game anyway.

Which is probably going to work on me. Had they released simultaneously or had the Wii U version released first, I may have just stuck with that one only. But now I'll probably get both.

With that said, it's a weird decision to me to have the exact same characters in both versions. If there is actually some kind of play between both versions I would "get" it, but I'm guessing it has more to do with the custom character creation and sharing creations between the two versions, which is neat, but not worth this limitation. Because the Wii U version releasing later but without any unique characters will kind of dull my excitement for it a bit...why not give each game at least 1 or 2 unique characters to play with?
Posted: 04/09/14, 17:12:51
missypissy said:

We should also take this as a sign that they've got no heavy hitter planned for the holiday season for Wii U this year.

This is the part that concerns me most about this. At this point, we pretty much just have MK, Smash and Bayonetta 2 this year. I have a feeling that anything big they do announce at E3 won't make it out this year.
Posted: 04/09/14, 17:31:54
But wouldn't Smash BE their big hitter?
Posted: 04/09/14, 17:35:58
Heck, in some ways I kinda hope they don't have a second big hitter for the fall because it'd mean that Smash might be delayed to 2015.

Interesting replies here so far. It's true that this probably guarantees more sales in the long run (mostly for the 3DS version anyway) so Nintendo would still be making money either way, but what about from a personal standpoint? Does no one else really feel that the Wii U version will feel sort of like an HD remake of the 3DS game when it hits?

Like others have mentioned, I really wish there were a couple new characters in the console game to further encourage double-dipping.
Posted: 04/09/14, 17:50:15
@Zero

I'd think so. At this stage of the game, does it GET any bigger than Smash Brothers for Nintendo? Even Zelda doesn't pull Smash Brothers numbers. I guess Mario Kart maybe.

I'm fine with them releasing two or three huge games a year and then putting out some unique "Nintendo" stuff along side. What other company in the entire world does that? None others. And we complain they aren't releasing enough...

PogueSquadron said:
Once someone has the 3DS game, will they really want to shell out $60 for essentially the same game?

I dunno, do people shell out $60 yearly for Madden, Halo, Call of Duty, NSMB, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. to infinity?

It's as much the "same game" as those. It has different modes and different stages. The core gameplay is the same, just like Madden or Call of Duty, and it's the levels and modes that make each one unique. But really all that even fades to the sidelines when it boils down to 4-player local multiplayer Smash Brothers funtime. I've played hundreds of dollars worth of fun out of Brawl and Melee with friends (plus the good ol' original, but those days we were more addicted to Goldeneye and MK64) so to me $60 to experience those times again is dirt cheap. I imagine many others will feel the same.
Posted: 04/09/14, 17:52:57
TriforceBun said:

Does no one else really feel that the Wii U version will feel sort of like an HD remake of the 3DS game when it hits?

I feel like it will be an HD remake of Brawl with a ton of new levels and a couple of new characters I likely won't even use. So... I already felt that way and it was no water off my back before. It's Smash Brothers. It's Nintendo. Nintendo lives to give us what are essentially HD remakes of the same gameplay they've pushed on us for decades. I don't necessarily say that as a bad thing, either, because it's brilliant, unsurpassed gameplay. It's the same, nonetheless.

If you don't want it to feel that way, there's a very easy answer: Don't buy the 3DS version. Boom. Done, you're saved. It's totally up to you.
Posted: 04/09/14, 17:55:52
@TriforceBun

The fact that the game looks so similar to Brawl substantively makes me think that there's something they still haven't showed off about the Wii U version that will help justify its later release and make it stand out even more from the 3DS title. Maybe that's wishful thinking, but the game has been in development for a long time and they must have been working on something else than new graphics and (hopefully) improving online.
Posted: 04/09/14, 18:05:59
@Zero
Of course. But Mario was unquestionably the big hitter last year but we got a decent lineup of stuff building up to it. In the few months before it we got Pikmin 3, Wonderful 101, Wind Waker HD, and New Super Luigi U. There doesn't even seem to be that good of a late summer/early fall lineup this year unless they're just keeping everything secret, but I think all the other stuff that's disappeared off the radar isn't going to be ready this year at all. Zelda isn't coming this year. if Metroid is announced at E3, it won't be for this year. Smash is big, but they need more games when they're the only big company making games for the thing.
Posted: 04/09/14, 18:11:16
@kriswright Normally I'd agree with you but I'm not sure that the Wii U is in a situation to be making that kind of gamble.
Posted: 04/09/14, 18:29:13
@Zero

Smash is massive, no doubt about that. As JKR said, it pulls numbers really only Mario Kart can beat. But I'm just looking at this from the glass-half-empty side of life. Nintendo doesn't put big games next to each other, so "moving" Smash to November/December essentially confirms there's nothing else coming alongside it. I thought with E3 we'd get Nintendo spilling their guts and saying "Here's [this game], it's been in development for 2 years now, it'll release in November 2014".
Posted: 04/09/14, 18:30:16
Smash is their heavy holiday hitter on the Wii U, there's no doubt about it but if they honestly have absolutely nothing in between it and mk8 then they are completely mad.
Posted: 04/09/14, 19:32:32
I guess Nintendo might push Hyrule Warriors something fierce at some point in between Kart and Smash. And let's not forget Codename S.T.E.A.M.
Posted: 04/09/14, 19:36:17
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