Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Renegade Kid’s Swan Song for the DS!

It is an interesting time for the Nintendo handheld market. The DS has tens of millions of owners scattered across the world, and the new 3DS is going to be released in early 2011.

As a player, and a fan of Nintendo’s handhelds, I look forward to getting my hands on the 3DS. At the same time, however, I feel sad that the DS era is coming to a end. Ignoring the fact that the first exterior design of the DS was “phatt” and ugly, it has been an incredibly enjoyable games machine to own. The unit is (fairly) durable, and the games have been a lot of fun. Sure, there are now oodles of terrible games available for the DS, and the explosion of less-than-mediocre virtual pet and fashion games is not something that gets me excited (I do enjoy good virtual pet games, though), but, I believe the likes of Mario Kart, Henry Hatsworth, New Super Mario Bros., the Call of Duty series, and of course Renegade Kid’s own contributions, provide an incredible gaming experience that can be enjoyed on-the-go, or anywhere you choose, due to the portability of the console. I guess I am just unwilling to let the DS go in the same way I was hesitant to let the GBA step aside for the DS. I loved my GBA, and I love the DS. And, I’m already falling in love with the 3DS. Everything will be ok. :)

Now, as a developer, I am torn. Naturally, I want to dive into the development of 3DS games. And, we are doing just that at Renegade Kid. But, at the same time, I don’t want to turn my back on the DS. As I mentioned above, the DS has tens of millions of owners, whereas the 3DS currently has zero. If I had enough money of my own, I would invest it into the development of something truly special for the DS: Renegade Kid’s swan song for the DS. However, the reality is that I don’t have enough money of my own to fund development, and publishers are unlikely to invest in the development of something that hasn’t been proven to be a financial success by existing sales data – which unfortunately boils down to the safest bet being license games at this point. Sure, games like Scribblenauts have a chance too, but that avenue requires the developer to essentially develop the game first to prove that it is cool to a publisher, which requires a whole lot of money / risk.

We rely on publishers to fund the development of our games, so we have to sell the concept of our games with a proposal document or a playable demo. Obviously, a proposal document is easier, cheaper, and quicker to create than a playable demo – but it also relies on the publisher sharing your mental vision of the game, which is very tricky. So, it is not always the best way to sell an original idea. Moon and Dementium II were fairly easy to sell in concept to publishers due to the fact that Dementium: The Ward acted as proof that a decent third-party FPS could be created and it could sell OK too. Both Dementium: The Ward and ATV Wild Ride needed to be playable before publishers were interested in signing on to invest money. On a side note, something that the publishers failed to recognize with both Moon and Dementium II was the fact that Dementium: The Ward had a hefty on-line ad campaign when the game was released (on time) on Halloween 2007, which was instrumental in the exposure and ultimately decent sales of the title. Thank you for that, Gamecock. I could go on about my annoyance about all of this, but not today. ;)

OK, I got a little off track there. Back on topic. It would seem like a reasonable idea to develop titles for the system that has tens of millions of owners out there: Nintendo DS. Especially, when considering the high price of the 3DS and the subsequent lack of players who will be able to afford to buy it in 2011. Until the 3DS drops in prices to below $200, it will not be selling like the DS did. Hm, what was the price of the DS at launch? Oh yes, $149.99. Interesting! Taking into account inflation since 2004, I would say that even a higher price of $189.99 for the 3DS would be acceptable today – perhaps even $199.99.

Anyway, that’s enough rambling for one day I think. I’m not sure there’s even a tangible point to this post. I just felt like sharing some of my thoughts. In summary: looking forward to the 3DS. Still want to make great DS games. Hope the price of 3DS drops to below $200 ASAP.

I hope you're having a great day.