The biggest trick when releasing new hardware is walking the tightrope between advancing a product forward and bringing in new audiences, and managing to hold onto the established fan base you've already created. The situation only gets more complicated when the advancement involves something that the existing audience wasn't really asking for.
There wasn't an overwhelming desire for Nintendo to create a brand new glasses-free 3D experience to replace the DS by the hardcore fans, but that doesn't mean that the release can't show gamers something that they hadn't realized they were craving.
In fact, during a recent 3DS event in Amsterdam, Nintendo UK’s general manager David Yarnton boldly claimed that hardcore gamers will be surprised not only by what the 3DS can offer, but how it will allow them to interact with other players:
"For those people who wear the badge of honour saying 'I'm a hardcore gamer', I think they're just going to be blown away by 3DS because what we've got to offer no-one else can.
"The game content, the experience, the ease of being able to play against someone else from all around the world... I just think it's giving them something that's going to make them go 'wow'."
This begs the question, what exactly is a hardcore gamer? This question has been asked numerous times and a clear answer is yet to be found. This unfortunate label is divisive and sometimes lead to venomous debates, but lately the gaming industry has been spinning its wheels, trying to balance their efforts and please casual and hardcore audiences alike.
While there are different markets and demographics to consider, developers should stop worrying about how hardcore a game is and simply concentrate on delivering a satisfying experience. No doubt, there is a certain appeal for a 'gamer’s game', but there are also plenty of titles that deliver the same amount of enjoyment without obsessing over details, or taking itself too seriously.
Some companies are spending so much time bouncing back and forth between casual and hardcore ideologies that their focus is taken off of the important issues.
In recent years, Nintendo has seemingly morphed from the most hardcore video game company into an entity that is seen by many as casual and somewhat outdated. Even though there are many hardcore games for both the Wii and DS, Nintendo’s constant emphasis on bringing in casual gamers, along with their lack of support for key features, has negatively affected their image with more traditional gamers.
Based on their statements, Nintendo has picked up on these negative sentiments and has plans for games and features on the 3DS that will help mend their uneasy relationship with the hardcore population.
Nintendo is the pioneer of innovative hardware in gaming and the 3DS is set to follow in the footsteps of the Wii and DS which popularized motion-controls and touch screens. The 3DS will likely be successful either way, but it would be wise for Nintendo to focus less on the hardcore/casual labels and more on creating great games.
Do you consider yourself a hardcore gamer? How do your perceptions of Nintendo affect your desire for a 3DS?
Nintendo will release the 3DS in North America on March 27th and in the UK on March 25th.