Today Nintendo surprised the entire world with the least expected thing ever: The Nintendo 2DS. The new handheld is a redesigned 3DS, sans 3D functionality (but still capable of playing all 3DS games), being offered for a lower price point. Nintendo says that the new handheld is being made with a very young demographic in mind, as an entry level gaming device.
The vast majority of the internet has been less than receptive to Nintendo’s new toy, calling it ugly, questioning its necessity, and the rest of your expected entitled reactionary gamer nonsense.
But here’s the thing: It’s not for you. So calm down.
More than that, I actually think the device is quite clever. Here’s why.
Let’s start with the design, which seems to be the biggest complaint people are having. While it’s an admittedly odd shape, it ultimately just looks like a regular 3DS when folded completely open.
The new tablet-esque design works on a number of levels, for me. Considering that the 2DS is being marketed primarily to young children, the removal of the hinge means that kids won’t be breaking their expensive new toy so easily. I’ve already heard from one of my friends who shared how her young sisters have already gone through two DS handhelds and one 3DS by breaking the hinges. With this new flat design the 2DS can get thrown around the backseat of a car, in a child’s backpack, and wherever else electronic toys were never meant to go, without snapping in half.
My only real concern is the 2DS’ screens being exposed at all times, which could lead to some real damage if they’re not kept in their sacks.
And while Nintendo is marketing the 2DS primarily as a children’s model, there’s a lot of potential in its design to attract casual adult players. The casual market is one that Nintendo is intimately familiar with thanks to the Wii, but the ever growing phone and tablet market has been Nintendo’s only real competitor in the handheld realm. (Sorry not sorry, Vita)
Casual gamers can play Angry Birds, Candy Crush, and My Little Pony on their iPads while on the way to work and don’t seem to have any qualms about playing games in public. Those casual players might be less inclined, however, to hold a 3DS in their hands which is undeniably a gaming-only platform. In this regard the 2DS’s sleeker (if still somewhat awkward, I’m not denying that) and lighter design has more broad appeal. And when you’ve got big titles like Animal Crossing: New Leaf ready for download (ie, don’t have to go into a game store) that bring loads of casual appeal, there’s a huge market ready to be tapped.
The new design is also quite similar to the Wii U gamepad. Younger gamers will now play games on their 2DS and already be somewhat used to holding a device similar to the Wii U gamepad when the time finally comes to buy a Wii U. With Mario, Sonic, Donkey Kong, Bayonetta, Mario Kart, Pokemon, and Smash Bros. on their way to the floundering console, that time is within the next year. And how convenient: Today Nintendo announced a Wii U price drop coming September 20th.
Speaking of prices: At $130 the 2DS is quite the value item, and will no doubt be a big seller come the holiday season. The 3DS has a huge library, and when combined with compatible DS titles and eShop games has one of the largest and most diverse game selection for any current gen system. However most of the ‘hardcore’ audience, or whatever we’re calling ourselves these days, already own a 3DS in some form. So while the new games may be moving, new consoles aren’t.
With Pokemon X and Pokemon Y coming out the same day as the 2DS, and games like Smash Bros. on 3DS in the works, the guaranteed success of these games as software will no doubt push the new 2DS hardware as well.
All in all, it sounds like the perfect entry level console for children and casual gamers. And that’s exactly how Nintendo is marketing it……so why are gamers so upset about it? They’re telling us point blank who the 2DS is for.
This for little kids that have never owned a video game and aren’t yet old enough to not break the more expensive ones.
This is for my friend’s little sisters who have already gone through three more expensive handhelds.
This is for parents who want to buy their kids a video game but can’t afford the ridiculous prices, or can’t justify spending so much on a ‘toy’.
This is for casual gamers who’d like to explore more ‘hardcore’ titles without investing a ton of money in a device that only plays games.
This is for people, like me, who consider themselves hardcore gamers but rarely have the expendable income to invest in new consoles and handhelds when they first hit the market.
This is for people who want to play Nintendo games and haven’t had the chance yet.
This isn’t necessarily a console for “you”. And that’s okay.