Nintendo DS

Why Only One Nintendo Title At 3DS Launch?


When the Nintendo 3DS launches, the only Nintendo-developed games for the device available on launch day will be Nintendogs + cats. The rest of the initial 3DS library will consist of third-party games.


An investor at Nintendo’s recent financial results briefing asked company president, Satoru Iwata, to explain just why this was, and if Nintendo’s release strategy had perhaps changed.


Iwata’s reply to the question was threefold. The first reason, he said, was that the 3DS includes pack-in software, similar to the way the Wii had Wii Sports, in the form of augmented reality games. Iwata feels the system’s inbuilt software will act as the primary driving force of positive word-of-mouth.


The other reason, he revealed, was that the company wishes to address the concern that only first-party games sell well on Nintendo systems. While the Nintendo DS shows no traces of this problem now, early on, it too caused similar concerns, which were quickly dispelled. The Wii, however, still faces the same stigma, and Iwata says that with the 3DS, Nintendo wish to create a healthy third-party environment right from the system’s launch. For this reason, they’re holding back their own software for the moment so that third-parties can enjoy the attention of the market.


And finally, Iwata revealed, is the matter of a consistent release schedule. Both the DS and Wii suffered from dry spells shortly after launch, as Nintendo released a wide range of first-party games alongside both systems. To ensure that the 3DS doesn’t suffer a similar dry spell, they’re holding games back, even though there are some 3DS titles that were completed even before Nintendogs + cats.

Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.