clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Opinion: With the 2DS, Nintendo is fixing the wrong problem

Nintendo is trying frantically to fix the wrong problem.

With the announcement of its Nintendo 2DS, a 2D-only version of its 3D portable system, Nintendo has codified what it believes is the company's number one problem: price.

The 2DS will be $129.99, $40 cheaper than the normal 3DS. The price point will certainly appeal to people who wanted a 3DS, but hated the entire point of the system. Which, judging from a casual Twitter search, is a fair number of video game devotees.

But attracting game enthusiasts has never been Nintendo's problem. The 3DS could be a grapefruit, so long as it plays another Mario game.

The 2DS will appeal to people who wanted a 3DS, but hated the entire point of the system

No, the 3DS and also the Wii U have a separate problem, far worse than their high, but not insane price points. The real problem is their befuddling messaging, their silly names, their complex compatibilities.

This is as layman an explanation as you'll find for Nintendo's current hardware.

DS games run on the DS, 3DS and 2DS; 3DS games run on the 3DS and the 2DS, but not the DS; and there are no 2DS games.

Wii U runs Wii and Wii U games, but to play Wii games you'll need to run the Wii on the Wii U. Wii doesn't run Wii U games. The GamePad is portable, but it's not mobile, and it's like a DS, but it doesn't play DS games.

Take a moment to catch your breath.

The original logic is understandable, almost reasonable. Nintendo named its latest hardware to capitalize on the tremendously popular Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii brands.

But the company didn't properly distinguish the new hardware from the old. It didn't use familiar language, like numeric iteration (the Nintendo DS 2) or superlatives (the Super Wii). Instead, it went with vague wordplay.

Nintendo's real problem is its messaging

And so, the conversation I have time and again with people when they learn about my job is, "Why won't the Wii play Wii U games?" or "I don't get it. The 3DS makes my DS games 3D?"

These people aren't stupid. They're normal, and they're being fed needlessly complex messaging. It's killing Nintendo.

And today we get the Nintendo 2DS: a video game system that doesn't have any games of its own. Try explaining that to the average person.

Disagree? So does Polygon's Samit Sarkar. Read his reaction, "Nintendo 2DS proves the company knows it audience."

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Patch Notes

A weekly roundup of the best things from Polygon