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Opinionation: The 3DS Circle Pad Attachment

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Yesterday, the interwebs exploded with people speculating wildly about the new right circle pad add-on for the 3DS and what it might mean for the future of the fledgling handheld. In the interest of quelling some of the freaking out, I contacted Nintendo for more information, but unfortunately couldn't get anything more out of them than the same PR release they sent to all the other outlets:

We can confirm that Nintendo plans to release the Circle Pad attachment, but Nintendo's regional subsidiaries will make further announcements about its availability at a later date.

That's not a whole lot to go on, so until we get more information at this upcoming 3DS press conference on the 13th, I wanted to offer up my opinion on the subject based on what we know so far.

Nintendo has a history of tweaking its portable hardware, but never in a way that changes the games that can be played on it. They'll make the systems larger or smaller or different colors, but the changes are cosmetic and doesn't affect gameplay. Which is why I am still skeptical that this attachment adding a second analog circle pad and two additional shoulder buttons will lead to a new hardware SKU that includes them built in.

The 3DS got off to a rough start with people complaining about its launch library (although technically, the DS launch library was less impressive in comparison), and the fact that many of its much-touted features (The eStore and web browser) weren't available at launch (and full-length 3D movies still have yet to materialize in any form). Then, to boost flagging numbers, Nintendo dropped the price, which spiked sales, but risked alienating early adopters who were placated with free NES and GBA games. So I feel like an entirely new hardware configuration would further erode confidence in the 3DS and create a PR nightmare that would be extremely difficult for Nintendo to give a positive spin.

I had originally thought that the add-on was simply something that Capcom had come up with to solve the problem of adapting the Monster Hunter controls to the 3DS, but Nintendo's statement would seem to indicate that it's a Nintendo accessory. This leads me to believe that other developers would be encouraged to create games that use the attachment, but it would be similar to Rock Band instruments or the Wii Motion Plus attachment, in that not many would.

So until Nintendo announces that they are creating a new 3DS SKU that incorporates the new controls, I'm not going to freak out. And as I said, I really can't see them doing it because of how gamers would react. If you thought the interwebs exploded just from rumors and speculation, imagine what would happen if there were actual facts to go on!

4 Comments

faePuck said:

_Finally_ someone else says what I've been feeling about this whole situation! Thanks, Woot :D

Nintendo has a long history of adding peripherals to their systems that end up with small adoption rates - developers looking toward the 3DS have almost zero reason to actually require the second analog stick, and so far the only confirmed title is Monster Hunter. Even if Nintendo does end up redesigning their new system, it's ultimately the developers who decide whether to exclude the thousands of early adopters, and there's almost no way they'd decide on that.

patfoot9 said:

don't fool yourself nintendo fans. you know the 3ds was a mistake and now ninteno is trying to patch the problem with a band-aid. im so glad that i cancelled my pre-order from amazon.

Konami has the circle pad thing now too, so it looks like it might be 'added' on [literally] to the MGS3 port.

Akamaru said:

@patfoot9 - AMEN, I should have been more forceful in demanding my boyfriend return the 3DS the day he bought it for me. Now he is finally coming around to regretting the purchase as all it does is sit on my desk in the charging cradle.

I'm still in disbelief that this situation is even playing out at all.

Six months after the launch of a flagship piece of hardware is NOT, I REPEAT, NOT the time to materially change/ splinter the platform. I just paid close to $300 for what I thought was a complete system a few months ago. A bunch of free crappy games doesn't make up for the price drop and 180 degree turn in platform vision.

There is no justification for this what-so-ever. Nothing materially changed in the gaming market since a year before the 3DS launch. Smart phones where and still are eating into the handheld gaming market, Sony was still planning on releasing a PSP successor, Wii and DS sales were declining also.

It sounds to me like Nintendo got complacent and couldn't see the forest for the trees. They thought they could keep doing the same thing they've been doing all decade and get away with it. Marginal upgrades to an outdated platform doesn't work anymore!

I also think that they are in a tough spot because not only are they competing with other companies in various markets but they're also competing with themselves due to all the gimmicks they released that they now have 1-UP, so to speak, in order to justify a sale to all but the most hardcore Nintendo customers.

In general the "Blue Ocean" strategy they championed back in 2006 is now becoming their undoing. They no longer own the casual market due to smart phones, Xbox 360 Kinect/ PS3 Move, and general household budgetary cutbacks due to the rough economy. And they most certainly do not own the high-end hardcore gamer market like Steam, Xbox 360 and PS3 do. The Wii U is an attempt to buy into the latter market, but I don't think consumers have the stomach for a 4th current generation gaming platform now that they've had 6+ years to invest into Steam, Xbox 360 and PS3. Not to mention the fact that in 2 more years a whole slew of new consoles will be launching.

And girls who like girls who like rumble packs!

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Recent Comments

Akamaru on Opinionation: The 3DS Circle Pad Attachment: @patfoot9 - AMEN, I should have been more forceful in demanding my boyfriend return the 3DS the day he bought...

Chosenoneknuckles on Opinionation: The 3DS Circle Pad Attachment: Konami has the circle pad thing now too, so it looks like it might be 'added' on [literally] to the...

patfoot9 on Opinionation: The 3DS Circle Pad Attachment: don't fool yourself nintendo fans. you know the 3ds was a mistake and now ninteno is trying to patch the...

faePuck on Opinionation: The 3DS Circle Pad Attachment: _Finally_ someone else says what I've been feeling about this whole situation! Thanks, Woot :D Nintendo has a long history...

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