Nintendo has been on my mind a lot recently, as I'm completely addicted to the free Swapnote program on the 3DS. Anybody who has Internet-based gaming buddies should check it out—it's a ton of fun to scribble notes and drawings back and forth with people. To link Swapnote into this week's industry scuttlebutt, we may be seeing more small, fun time-wasters on Nintendo devices soon, as the company begins to follow current gaming trends on its new devices.
Nintendo Goes Back to the Future
One of the things that has bitten Nintendo in the rear this generation is that the company has lagged behind industry trends, causing third-party companies to eschew the Big N's devices. We already know that Nintendo will be moving into the world of high-definition graphics with the Wii U, something that has excited companies like Epic. Now, Nintendo has announced that it will be supporting paid downloadable content (DLC) on the 3DS and the Wii U, starting with the release of a new Fire Emblem game in Japan this spring. Although not every gamer likes the DLC model of game expansion, supporting it should further assist Nintendo in attracting third-party development and multiplatform releases.
Industry rumors suggest other measures Nintendo could be taking to keep up with current industry trends. The company is reported to be considering an e-reader service for the Wii U's tablet controller. This service would be shared with the 3DS, following Apples lead with shared services in the iPad and iPhone. There also may be an app-style store for the two devices, making it easier for small and independent developers to become published on Nintendo's consoles. Neither of these services has been confirmed by Nintendo, so we'll need to wait and see if they come to fruition.
Three Dee Ess Takeoff
Speaking of Nintendo, the company has put some solid numbers behind 3DS sales in North America. The new portable has sold over four million copies on this continent, officially pulling ahead of the sales garnered by the original DS during its first year. Mario has been good for the company as usual, with Mario Kart 7 and Super Mario 3D Land selling over a million copies each. Nintendo says they've sold faster than any previous entries in their respective series, proving the lasting appeal of the little red-clad plumber.
Vita 3G Pricing Revealed
Since its launch in Japan, the Wi-Fi version of the Vita has proved far more popular than the 3G version. With Wi-Fi connection spots denser in Japan than they are here, will the 3G Vita be more attractive to American customers? We now know the price of the two 3G plans that AT&T will be offering for the Vita at launch. Customers can choose to pay $14.99 per month for 250 megabytes of data or $25 a month for 2 gigabytes of data. That's not a lot of room for streaming data, but should be sufficient for playing games online. The question is just how much customers will be willing to pay for the convenience of 3G connectivity over finding a spot with free Wi-Fi. Starbucks, may we suggest you consider selling Gamer Fuel?
The Ongoing SOPA Opera
If you're unfamiliar with the Stop Online Piracy Act currently being debated in the United States, check out this great article that was recently posted here on Cheat Code Central. The public backlash against the draconian provisions in SOPA has made a difference for a number of companies such as Nintendo, Electronic Arts, and Sony, which have now pulled their support from the bill.
Just as individual game companies stopped supporting SOPA, however, the Entertainment Software Association hopped on board and announced that it was behind the bill. Since almost all major game companies in the United States are members of the ESA, that organization's support for the bill is a de facto statement of support from those companies as well. Several smaller developers are speaking out, urging other companies to confront the ESA over the bill. It's going to take action from the big players to convince the ESA to withdraw its SOPA support, so let's see if these companies are truly willing to make a stand and protect free speech on the Internet.
By Becky Cunningham
CCC Contributing Writer
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*