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How well do you think Nintendo's port-unfriendly hardware features have worked? [roundtable]
 
That's kind of hard to understand, I guess. But I'm talking about the way Nintendo's recent consoles (DS, Wii) seem almost built to discourage ports, due to unique hardware features, power levels, etc. The Wii had the motion control/direct pointing market for many years. The DS has dual-screens, as well as the at-the-time unique touch-screen and microphone. Nintendo wanted to offer something new, but they also wanted exclusive software. Their gambit has worked in a way, as the Wii and DS certainly have a ton of exclusive software, but it has largely come at the cost of the everyplatform software that third-parties seem to sink most of their time and money into. And, at this point, many of the unique hardware features of Nintendo's platforms have been co-opted by the competition.

So was the plan worthwhile, overall? In retrospect, would you have preferred to have the Wii be another Gamecube that was basically indistinguishable from the other consoles, with the exception of first/second-party software? Did third-parties on DS kind of half-ass it, for the most part, creating software that could easily be ported to the other systems? Did the use of the hardware gimmicks decrease over time to the point where they hardly mattered at all? Did that even matter, since they got Nintendo's foot in the door?

The 3DS is an interesting beast. The 'unique' feature is 3D, but that isn't really a game-changing feature. Perhaps it could be, but Nintendo isn't going to allow software that requires 3D. So it is going to be largely superficial. Almost every other feature can be done better on the NGP, other than the Dual Screens. But is that enough competitive advantage? Or will 3D alone provide the boot in the door, leaving the software library to make up for the rest?

And what of the Wii 2? What do you expect from that? Something completely different? A refinement or adaptation to keep up with motion control standards?

For myself, I would like a paddle. Handheld, home console, whatever. Getting the DS Paddle accessory has reignited the fire inside of me. The fire for analog movement in one dimension.

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Posted: 02/22/11, 19:04:01
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I think it worked fine for DS, as its got a healthy selection of 1st to 3rd party software.

The Wii, not so much. Developers seem more interested in coding for cross-platform releases on PC/360/PS3. While the Wii has a nice selection of 1st and 2nd party titles, 90%+ of 3rd party offerings are either casual cash-ins or minimal effort "ports" of HD franchises.

It's a shame, really. There are a few notable exceptions (Dead Space: Extraction, CoD, etc.), but Wii missed out on practically all of the major IPs the HD consoles shared (BioShock, Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Dead Space, Batman, Assassin's Creed, RDR/GTA, Mass Effect, Bayonetta, Borderlands, etc.).

It will be interesting to see if 3rd parties throw their weight into Wii 2 sight-unseen like we're seeing with 3DS. Can they count on the insta-success that Wii found with their expanded audiences?
Posted: 02/22/11, 19:20:22
Quick, can't-go-too-much-into-detail-because-I'm-at-work answer:

- Obviously it worked great for Nintendo, they managed to make a console that nets them a respectable profit and differentiated itself so much from the competition that they tapped into a different, larger market than just people who already played video games.

- Obviously, how well it worked for gamers depends on who you ask. There are those who simply can't get over the controls or the SD, and there are those who appreciate the new controls and don't mind the lack of power.

- On the 3rd party support side of things, obviously it hasn't worked so well, which is why so many of us here own another console. The games are not gonna come to us, we gotta go to them.

Obviously. My word of the day.
Posted: 02/22/11, 19:35:07
That's a double-edged sword. Apparently, people don't mind supporting two nearly identical consoles, games and all. For what it is worth, the DS, GameCube, Wii and the soon-to-be 3DS will have/have had a more diverse library that makes it stand out from the pack. Some would argue that not getting ports might make some people feel left out, but let's sum up by saying all other platforms are getting left out by the lack of Nintendo support, which has been pretty much half of everything this last generation.
Posted: 02/22/11, 19:38:12  - Edited by 
 on: 02/22/11, 19:53:07
@New Forms
Honestly, I think few third-parties really utilized the DS features after the first year. That could have been due to the sales and reception of games that did, but I think it has to do more with portability. Publishers seemed unwilling to make truly DS-only games.

As far as the Wii, there is a lot of trash, for sure. But I kind of like the quirky, scrappy library that the Wii has built. At least until this year, it has had a fairly healthy stream of interesting, though not necessarily 'AAA', titles. Those are the kinds of titles that appeal to me, in general, anyway, so I think it has worked out decently well. It could be better, of course.

As to whether Nintendo can garner third-party support for Wii 2... who can say? It could go either way. Next-gen is going to be pretty bloody, development cost-wise. Third parties would probably be grateful for the chance to use their PS3/360 tools and engines, and a PS3/360-level console might be able to handle downgraded PS4/720 ports, anyway. It is certainly something Nintendo should consider. Get Epic on board early.
Posted: 02/22/11, 19:49:48  - Edited by 
 on: 02/22/11, 19:50:25
I'm ahgast by some people's reaction for 3DS' 3rd party support. The DS had/has a quite healthy stream of third titles since its third or second year. I'd say at least half, if not more of the best games released since 2008 released. Layton series, Dragon Quest IX, Okamiden, Scribblenauts etc. A lot of those games took advantage of the DS features. In other games I found it unnecessary and sometimes obtrusive like in GTA: Chinatown Wars. I don't need every game I play to revolutionize gameplay.

If anything I'd say Nintendo has been slipping. For the past two years or so, we haven't seen much from them. Granted, they did publish a few third and second party titles. If anything, I'd be surprised if companies like Bethestha started developing for the 3DS. A lot of those games took advantage of the DS features. In other games I found it unnecessary and sometimes obtrusive like in GTA: Chinatown Wars.

Going back on topic, diferentiating themselves from the competition resulted in a massive boost to their sales and profits for Nintendo. Obviously, the Wii lacks processing power, online infractructure and other components that alienated developers. To me it has more to do with that than with motion controls.

It was said that the PS3 was vastly superior to whatever the Xbox 360 had going on but so far we've only seen a handful of titles that look the part. Most of them look the same, if not better on the Xbox. Raw power doesn't always equal better graphics. And different rendering styles can result in graphics that look identical on the surface.

The console with the games you want to play ultimately decide what you'll buy. Often times what it comes down to is first and second party titles since third parties try to maximize profits by porting their games and I don't blame them.
Posted: 02/22/11, 20:06:54  - Edited by 
 on: 02/22/11, 20:07:43
While the systems aren't very port friendly, Nintendo have been working to make their platforms easy to develop for. I think this has worked very well on the DS and to a lesser extent on Wii. I like the idea of having unique gaming platforms, and it has brought some unique gaming experiences from both 1st and 3rd party developers.

Wii has had less 3rd part support than the other two home consoles. I'm sure that would be different if it was more port-friendly. However, 3rd parties have always put less effort in to Nintendo console games than other consoles since the SNES, so I'm sure the ports wouldn't be as good anyway.
Posted: 02/22/11, 20:14:28
@anandxxx
I agree the 3rd party support seems to be starting out pretty strong. To me, 3rd parties have already burned through the phrase "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me." throughout the entire WiiDS generation, since Nintendo has absolutely dominated the handheld and the home console front with both of them and has left all the 3rd parties in their wake.

Now (artfully mixing metaphors here), I think 3rd parties realize that they don't want to repeat their mistakes and get strike 3 with the 3DS. They're all jumping on board early, and I'm quite certain the results will lead to sustained 3rd party support.
Posted: 02/22/11, 20:18:08  - Edited by 
 on: 02/22/11, 20:19:03
3DS looks pretty good for the first year, which is heartening. Not much Western support, but it's a handheld, after all.

Wii 2, I dunno... Third-parties eventually fulfilled their own prophecy 'only Nintendo games sell on Nintendo platforms' on the Wii with their largely half-hearted efforts. Is the earth already salted? It would definitely behoove Nintendo to get some strong, varied early support like the 3DS has. Even if they have to open the ol' pocketbook.

@Cube191
Actually, I'm not sure the 'easy-to-develop-for' thing has really worked out to Nintendo's advantage. They have gotten some de facto support from smaller third-parties (both good as well as utterly horrid ones), but most of the decent ones still seem eager to 'graduate' to HD. And they don't run Unreal 3, so there goes most Western support. What are the exact financial advantages to developing on one SD platform vs. going HD on three? There are lots of variables there.

And, to be frank, we never had many data points of GOOD exclusive third-party software to use. Epic Mickey is a positive example, but far too late (and it comes with some caveats regarding the demographics).

Whatever the case, I think Nintendo would have truly benefited from rigorous quality control after the Wii/DS were already established. Shelves became clogged with shitware, and that's terrible for the third-parties who were actually trying.
Posted: 02/22/11, 20:22:45  - Edited by 
 on: 02/22/11, 20:26:16
@anandxxx
Unlike Sony and Microsoft, Nintendo NEVER has to open their pocketbook for 3rd party support. The last twenty years have borne that out. Not only that, they never WILL open their pocketbook. Good on them, I say. Keep on keeping on, Nintendo!
Posted: 02/22/11, 20:31:25
anandxxx said:
3DS looks pretty good for the first year, which is heartening. Not much Western support, but it's a handheld, after all.

Wii 2, I dunno... Third-parties eventually fulfilled their own prophecy 'only Nintendo games sell on Nintendo platforms' on the Wii with their largely half-hearted efforts. Is the earth already salted? It would definitely behoove Nintendo to get some strong, varied early support like the 3DS has. Even if they have to open the ol' pocketbook.

@Cube191
Actually, I'm not sure the 'easy-to-develop-for' thing has really worked out to Nintendo's advantage. They have gotten some de facto support from smaller third-parties (both good as well as utterly horrid ones), but most of the decent ones still seem eager to 'graduate' to HD. And they don't run Unreal 3, so there goes most Western support. What are the exact financial advantages to developing on one SD platform vs. going HD on three? There are lots of variables there.

And, to be frank, we never had many data points of GOOD exclusive third-party software to use. Epic Mickey is a positive example, but far too late (and it comes with some caveats regarding the demographics).

Whatever the case, I think Nintendo would have truly benefited from rigorous quality control after the Wii/DS were already established. Shelves became clogged with shitware, and that's terrible for the third-parties who were actually trying.

Well all consoles get shovel-ware. Wii got a lot more (partly because 3rd parties think casual gamers are stupid) but that didn't stop a lot of great software seeing well too. It's not like the E.T. crash when people stopped playing because of all the bad quality software. I agree that Nintendo should have better quality control. I can also see why 3rd parties want to port games. It's cheap and you have a much bigger market to sell products to. I think being multi-console is the best way to go. Then you have Wii for unique games and another console for most of the other game.
Posted: 02/22/11, 20:49:27
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