3DS Development Costs May Approach Wii Levels

By Ishaan . June 22, 2010 . 9:36am


At a post-E3 conference Q&A session with various analysts, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata commented on the hardware upgrade from Nintendo DS to 3DS, and how developers should expect the new device to affect their costs of development.


“As long as you are already creating a fully rendered 3D world, all you have to do in order to create the 3D visual effect is to capture the same images with two cameras, one for right eye and the other for left eye,” said Iwata. “From a development perspective, it actually does not make much of a difference in terms of development costs to create the 3D visual effect.”


For those who couldn’t quite wrap their heads around yesterday’s 3DS GPU specifications, what this means is that every game running in 3D is rendering its visuals twice. This is why the 3DS’s “effective” resolution while running 3D software is horizontally doubled to 800×240 px, instead of 400×240 px, which is the device’s standard screen resolution.


“On the other hand, because the visual capabilities of Nintendo 3DS are more powerful than the existing Nintendo DS, if you are going to take full advantage of the graphics capability of Nintendo 3DS, the development cost is also expected to rise,” Iwata continued.


“Therefore, if developers decide to try and maximize the graphical powers of the system, then the cost would be more expensive than what it is currently for Nintendo DS and may potentially approach the cost of developing Wii software. “

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  • malek86

    See, that’s what I was talking about. Hopefully the increased audience (well, not in the beginning, but with time) will offset this.But when you think about it, the general public for niche games in Japan has not increased with time. And I highly doubt the 3DS will help in this regard. So, if games end up selling pretty much the same amount, but cost more to make, that will lead to (even) lower profits.It probably won’t be much of a problem for the big guns, but if the small japanese companies want to use the 3DS as their golden goose like they did with the DS, they’ll have to find a way to increase the userbase for their games first.That, or just keep making low-graphics games. It worked well enough with the PSP (which I assume has development costs similar to the 3DS, probably a bit lower).

    • I believe the difference with the 3DS is that it will be taken more seriously on a global scale, which is why it’s good for all kinds of developers. Because now, you have a device that’s high-tech enough to appeal to the west, but at the same time, is portable enough to appeal to the Japanese home market.

      This is all in theory, of course. Whether or not it actually plays out like that remains to be seen.

      • malek86

        Yeah, big companies might have more incentives to develop for the 3DS. But I don’t think that’s gonna affect the small companies. Even if the device is taken more seriously (but really, the DS still sold a lot, so…), people will still be reluctant to buy niche games from unknown companies. In that sense, nothing might change.

        • Define “small” though. I would say Gust are extremely niche. Yet, despite indications of low sales, and developing for the PS3 of all things, they’re doing okay. I suspect we’re talking largely with regard to Marvelous here.You know, it really kills me to say this, but MMV haven’t played their cards right in a while. Little King’s Story, for instance, shouldn’t have been expected to sell “well” anywhere. The thing with MMV is, the DS and PSP seem like their best bet, and the 3DS doesn’t look to be too far from the PSP. (think of all the PSP / Wii multiplatform games)What I’m banking on is that the added novelty of a new platform, new technology (largely in the form of 3D) and, hopefully, better piracy protection, will capture the audience’s attention, and ultimately be of benefit to a company like MMV. Like I said, it’s a theory. :/

          • malek86

            A different story with Gust. I guess they managed to find a market on the PS3. Just like Cave has gone with the 360 this gen. Good for them. But admittedly, there aren’t many companies in such position.By the way, as for MMV, it would be too easy to blame stuff on the piracy, novelty and technology. MMV should first start to understand how to market their stuff. I’m not even speaking about large investments in advertising, just how to make your game known to the public. And manage your expectations/budget better. I think MMV has much bigger internal problems to solve, before they can think of the stuff outside.Maybe that’s the problem with most japanese companies. Before the 3DS can help, they’ll first have to understand what’s not going well with themselves. If they don’t, the 3DS will probably only help in the short term, before everything goes back to how it is today.

          • Sounds like we’re in agreement. :)

          • malek86

            Good. It means you understand my greatness :P

            Anyway, you know what I think is the main problem with MMV? They don’t have a clear target market. Cave is targeting the shmuppers on the 360, Gust the people who like alchemy RPGs, Idea Factory is mostly going for SRPGs…

            But who’s Marvelous targeting? Their games are too different, even from each other. And before you can spread your titles, you need to make your name known for something in particular. In today’s market, you can’t simply be “pretty ok at everything”, you need to be “great at something in particular”. Only once you’re big and famous enough, you can start covering other areas. Not just because it costs more, but also because people won’t trust someone they don’t know.

            If MMV could create just one hit game, that might help them change everything.

          • Agreed again. MMV don’t have a business plan. Harvest Moon is supposed to be their flagship brand, but it’s just so…iterative. They haven’t shaken things up where they need to be.

            I didn’t mention this earlier because it sounds terribly idealistic when you say it out loud and we have no reason to believe it’ll even happen…but I’m kind of hoping that, beyond just a technological level, 3DS will represent something of a change in outlook for developers. I’m hoping they’ll see it as a chance to start over and make their products count, just like Level-5 did on the DS.

          • malek86

            Uhm, I see what you mean. That might actually happen. Though most companies will probably hang to what they already have. But for a company who doesn’t have an identity, like Marvelous, that could be a big chance.

            Only if they make it count, though. I have this feeling they haven’t read Business 101.

          • jarrodand

            I dunno if Marvelous would’ve fared all that much better had their Wii projects been on PSP/DS… they had a fairly recent swing back to DS/PSP software towards the latter half of 2009 and it pretty much blew up in their faces with almost everything underperforming (Luminous Arc 3, Rune Factory 3, Ikki Tousen, Hitman Reborn, etc) or bombing outright (Sakura Note, PostPet, Lively Garden, etc). Wii got the blame in the press, but the company’s downfall really seems platform agnostic imo.I do agree that Wii+PSP multiplatform development should be an attractive option for JP developers though, and I can’t fathom why none seemingly took on that notion? The platforms really help cover each other’s weaknesses and compliment each other’s strengths, and as a bonus they’re not quite directly competitive for the most part. Tales of Graces and Sengoku Musou 3 would’ve assuredly done better with PSP versions in Japan, as would Soulcalibur BD or MGS Peace Walker in the west with Wii releases. A real missed opportunity all around imo, and now 3DS is probably going to put support for both Wii and PSP in the grave anyway.

          • Oh, they wouldn’t have. MMV’s problem is a lack of brand and marketing. It’s something they figured out two years ago, but what they couldn’t figure out is how to address it.

            Even Harvest Moon, which is a franchise going all the way back to the Super Famicom days isn’t nearly as respected. Frankly, MMV are lucky that support in the West continues for Harvest Moon despite the relative lack of innovation and the constant iteration.

            MMV made the mistake of not considering the business side of things and going super-creative. And as much as we all love them for it…well, look where it got them.

  • FireCouch

    And this is why the PS3 and Xbox have very few unique/different games. No one is going to be willing to spend such a massive amount of money to create a niche game.

    I’m guessing this is why all the RPGs for the past couple of years have been on portable systems.

  • jarrodand

    I think as PSP has shown in Japan, there’s plenty of room for both high end and low end approaches to software design. Not everyone needs to compete with Metal Gear, Kingdom Hearts or Resident Evil…

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