In Japan, portable games tend to be more popular than console games. Some of Japan’s most successful game franchises such as Pokémon and Monster Hunter have made a name for themselves primarily on portable systems.
Additionally, the lower costs of development and convenience of play associated with portable consoles have encouraged a large number of Japanese publishers to treat portable game development with the same — or in many cases — more importance than they would console game development.
In the U.S., the opposite is true. With the exception of a select few portable franchises or titles, console games have enjoyed a greater level of popularity, which is one of the many challenges that many Japanese games face outside their home market. This is a challenge that Nintendo intend to address, says the company’s president, Satoru Iwata.
Iwata believes that the Nintendo 3DS presents a “great opportunity” for Japanese publishers to expand their market outside Japan. While Nintendo products sell well worldwide, regardless of whether they’re on a portable or console, the same doesn’t hold true for other Japanese developers. To address this issue, Iwata says that Nintendo will identify third-party 3DS games with strong overseas potential, and will collaborate with their publishers to turn these games into hits.
If one were to think back to the Nintendo DS, they would spot existing examples of this initiative. Dragon Quest IX (pictured), published by Square Enix in Japan, was heavily promoted by Nintendo in the U.S. and Europe. The Professor Layton series, developed by Level 5, is published by Nintendo in the U.S. and Europe as well.
Conversely, you can also find third-party console games (on the Wii) that are popular in the U.S. self-published by Nintendo for Japanese players. Activision’s GoldenEye 007, Disney’s Epic Mickey and Ubisoft’s Just Dance are examples of this scenario.
Food for thought:
Nintendo collaborated heavily with Capcom to promote Monster Hunter Tri in the U.S., and they published the game themselves in Europe.