When 3DS launched, MCV visited High Street stores to talk 3DS with store staff, and we were disappointed by the results.
Several of the men and women whose job it was to sell Nintendo’s new portable told us that the 3DS was just a DS with a 3D screen. Not the entirely new games console that it actually was.
You can see where the confusion came from. 3DS looked and sounded like another model in what had become an annual stream of new DS SKUs. And to your everyday customer and untrained sales assistant, that’s exactly what it was.
Now, over two years since 3DS first arrived, Nintendo surprised us with 2DS. It’s not a DS (but plays DS games) and is a 3DS (but doesn’t play games in 3D). Is this a confusion too far?
“2DS looks very different, that’s one key advantage,” says Nintendo’s UK marketing director Shelly Pearce. “There’s no mistaking that this is a different product to the DS. And we will clearly communicate to retail and we will clearly communicate online. We will be supporting 2DS on TV. And the name itself helps. I don’t think it will be an issue.
“When you first look at it you might think it’s complicated, but it’s quite a simple proposition. It does everything 3DS does, but at an entry-level price point and in 2D.”
This Christmas is one of battles. Xbox vs PlayStation. Call of Duty vs Battlefield. Gran Turismo vs Forza. But perhaps one of the most important fights will be over the hearts and minds of children.
Today’s under 10s do not view the console as the only means to play games. To them, the browser or Dad’s tablet are just as viable. And yet, in a Christmas dominated by expensive, adult-orientated new hardware, the console games industry is doing very little to win over a new generation.
“2DS looks very different, that’s one key
advantage. There’s no mistaking that this
is a different product to the DS. And we
will clearly communicate to retail and we
will clearly communicate online. And the
name itself helps. I don’t think it will be an
issue. When you first look at it you might
think it’s complicated, but it’s quite a simple
proposition. It does everything 3DS does,
but at an entry-level price point and in 2D.”
Shelly Pearce - marketing director, Nintendo UK
Xbox 360, PS3 and Vita will skew younger this year, but these are still primarily core gamer machines. Wii U has the right content but not the right price point. And 3DS is not as kid-friendly as you may think, with Nintendo warning parents that young Children should not use the 3D screen.
Skylanders and Disney Infinity are perhaps the biggest kids IP over Christmas. But these are expensive products that target the more affluent families.
That’s where the 2DS comes in.
“We saw an opportunity in the market for an entry-level gaming device,” continues Pearce. “It is a streamlined, value gaming system for those younger kids.
“We have had great momentum behind 3DS, and we are moving into peak season with some key titles that will appeal to that younger kid market. We are essentially appealing to existing DS owners or young gamers about to enter gaming for the first time, who were perhaps mucking about on Mum and Dad’s phone and they are looking for a good in-depth gaming device. That is where we see 2DS fitting in.”
2DS may lack the sleek, mature aesthetics of the 3DS XL, but as a kids device it looks the part. Colourful, chunky and robust, it is the sort of machine you won’t worry about getting bashed around in a kid’s school bag or on the beach during a summer holiday.
But Nintendo 2DS is not going to sell to kids based on its design or it’s £108 price-point alone. Software sells consoles, and 2DS arrives on the same day as arguably Nintendo’s biggest kids brand of them all.
“Pokémon X and Y is going to be huge,” says Pearce. “And it launches alongside the 2DS [October 12th].
“We have a very big peak season campaign for Pokémon, and 2DS will feature heavily in that campaign. It will be a good size campaign talking specifically to kids but also to mum, because it is Christmas gifting season and we want to make sure that she is very much aware of it.
“We will be relying on retail to clearly communicate it in store. We have spoken to our key retailers about it, and they are very excited and see 2DS as a big opportunity.”
Nintendo is targeting new gamers with 2DS, but also DS owners that have yet to upgrade. Pearce says there’s a lot of gamers that have been tempted by 3DS but have been put off because “the cost barrier has perhaps still been a bit too high.”
Pearce and her team will be running two main campaigns to push 2DS. The first is focused on the hardware specifically, the other surrounds Pokémon X and Y.
“We are looking at TV, we will be online, we will be working on specific point-of-sale within retail, we will be looking at 2DS outdoor advertising, and we will have 2DS messaging on radio,” says Pearce. “And it will complement the Pokémon advertising, which sits alongside Animal Crossing as our biggest campaign of the year, and will kick off towards the end of September, with a big TV, print and online campaign.”
“We will be relying on retail to clearly
communicate it in store. We have
spoken to our key retailers about it,
and they are very excited and see
2DS as a big opportunity.”
Shelly Pearce - marketing director, Nintendo UK
Yet it’s not all about Pokémon. Pearce is quick to highlight the sheer quantity of 3DS/2DS blockbusters that have just launched or are due in the coming weeks.
“Behind the heart of it all is the software,” she continues. “We have some massive IPs that will be big released this peak season. We have just launched Animal Crossing, and we think that can really appeal to young girls. Pokémon will be a big hardware driver, because we still have a huge Pokémon fanbase, and many have yet to upgrade from DS.
“Then there’s The Legend of Zelda. And we have Professor Layton, too. There’s a strategic opportunity here with Layton. We know there is quite a few people who bought Layton 4 but not Layton 5. There were lots of people who were keen to get it, but weren’t sure about investing the amount of money into a new piece of hardware. 2DS is a great opportunity.”
The announcement of 2DS may have surprised some and confused others. But it was a nice antidote to the Xbox/Sony bickering. A console for kids in a market obsessed with the 18 to 34-year-old male.
It means the retail video games industry has yet another major audience covered in what is shaping up to be one its biggest Christmasses of all time.