With the Nintendo 3DS set to release sometime within the next year, one of the questions on our minds was how it would fare in terms of third-party support in North America. It’s no secret that the majority of good DS and PSP games tend to be from Japan, with maybe one or two western-developed games filling in the gaps.
Additionally, lately, there’s also been a trend of western publishers backing away from supporting original games on the DS entirely. As part of a larger interview, Renegade Kid (Dementium: The Ward) founder Jools Watsham revealed to us that his company has been having a hard time getting publishers to bite, ever since June 2009. While Renegade Kid currently do have two projects with publisher support, these deals were only struck recently.
Ishaan: Why do you think publishers backed off? Was it just to do with the state of the economy or do you think it’s also the nature of the games you try to create and the platform you work with?
Jools: Due to the fact that we’re nearing the end of the DS’ life, the number of original third-party games will reduce while the number of licensed titles, such as movie licenses, will increase. This has happened with every console. And, we’re not opposed to developing licensed titles. However, publishers are more inclined to use developers who have already produced licensed games rather than go with a developer who has not.
Ishaan: Do you think publishers will be more willing to fund original games on the 3DS? Obviously, there’s a lot we don’t know about the device, but there’s been a lot of talk about addressing the piracy issue from Nintendo. With E3 right around the corner, what’s the general consensus so far among the people you talk to?
Jools: Everyone seems very excited about the 3DS. I know I am. I think the beginning of any new platform’s life is the best time to release original games. They have a much better chance of selling due to the limited selection of games available. And, if you manage to release a good title, there’s the chance of releasing a sequel and a new brand is born.
Ishaan: Do you think the upgrade in hardware is going to catch the interest of third-parties in North America more than the DS? With the exception of a handful of developers — you guys included, of course — there aren’t too many companies that really excel at making good “core” portable games, or even try to, outside of Japan. Do you feel like a more powerful system would make them feel like it’s worth their time?
Jools: Yes, I think the number of US developers supporting the 3DS is going to be larger than it has been for the DS in terms of teams who are focusing on creating original so-called “core” games. I think we’ll see a lot of the current Wii and iPhone developers adding the 3DS to their development plans. However, I don’t expect many 360/PS3 teams to move onto the 3DS due to what is assumed of its graphical power not matching that of the 360/PS3. But, for us the upgrade in graphical power is awesome and exciting.
Ishaan: As you pointed out, iTunes is a growing market and that’s where the majority of the talent seems to be developing. But DSiWare, for instance, has a much stricter approval process. Do you see people just porting their stuff over or will we see, perhaps, a more “fleshed out” library focused on quality?
Jools: Nintendo isn’t going to want a series of direct ports from the iPhone, so in regards to digital titles I expect we’ll see a more robust library of games available for the 3DS. This will be Nintendo’s next iteration on their on-line system, so that should be interesting. If it’s anything like the growth of Xbox Live from the Xbox to the 360 then we’re in for a treat.