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Friday, October 19, 2012

Why the 3DS Has Prevailed and the Vita Has Not (It's Not What You Think)

The Nintendo 3DS and Playstation Vita have been in so many comparison articles it's ridiculous. Even before the Playstation Vita was released there were doomsday articles claiming that it would never surpass the popularity of the Nintendo 3DS.

While the aforementioned articles may be a bit alarmist, they are absolutely true. Unfortunately not for the reasons they may have mentioned however.

The real reason is actually quite simple.

The Nintendo 3DS (and the DS family) is the only system Nintendo has right now that actually offers great Nintendo games. If you want to play great Sony Playstation games, you have those on the Playstation 3. You simply don't need the Vita. Nintendo fans however do need the 3DS as the Wii's lineup is sad at best.

Boom. There you go. Want me to explain farther? Fine.

If you're a fan of Nintendo games - and let's be honest, who isn't? - then you're going to start looking for a platform to play these games on. You walk into your local games retailer and begin searching through Nintendo Wii and Nintendo 3DS games. For the sake of argument here, let's compare the top 25 titles that were released for both systems.

Nintendo DS
  Nintendo 3DS

Nintendo Wii
Professor Layton and the Unwound Future
  3D Classics: Kirby’s Adventure
Wii Sports Resort
Animal Crossing: Wild World
  3D Classics: Kid Icarus
Wario Ware: Smooth Moves
Planet Puzzle League
  Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: 
Shadow Wars
Sin and Punishment: Star Successor
Mario & Luigi: Partner in Time
New Super Mario Bros. 2
Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn
Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes
Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D
Kirby: Canvas Curse
Mighty Switch Force!
America’s Test Kitchen: Let’s Get Cooking
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy
Red Steel 2
Pokemon Black Version
ZEN Pinball 3D
Mario Kart Wii
Pokemon HeartGold Version
Dead or Alive: Dimensions
Okami Wii
The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked
Monster Hunter Tri
Elite Beat Agents
Mutant Mudds
Super Paper Mario
Pokemon SoulSilver Version
Art Academy: Lessons for Everyone
No More Heroes 2
Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies
Star Fox 64 3D
Dead Space Extraction
Pokemon White Version
Art of Balance Touch!
Resident Evil 4
The World Ends With You
Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure
Xenoblade Chronicles
Resident Evil: Revelations
The Last Story
New Super Mario Bros.
Cave Story 3D
Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars
Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow
New Super Mario Bros. Wii
Advance Wars: Dual Strike
Kid Icarus: Uprising
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
Mario Kart 7
Donkey Kong Country Returns
Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story
Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition
Super Mario Galaxy
Mario Kart DS
Colors! 3D
Metroid Prime Trilogy
Chrono Trigger
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Flipnote Studio
Super Mario Land 3D
Super Mario Galaxy 2
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

To make this easier to read I've gone ahead and highlighted all the classic Nintendo games (you know the ones people buy and care about) in red.

By my count, that's 12 games for the Nintendo Wii, compared to 24 for the Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo DS combined - and this is only the top 25 of all-time. 

So you are now thinking to yourself, "Okay, so I now know that there are more games for the DS systems, but what about cost?" That's also an easy one. The Nintendo 3DS is backwards compatible, meaning it can play every DS game that has ever been released. Suddenly you are now between only two systems: the Nintendo 3DS and the Nintendo Wii.

The price of a brand new Nintendo 3DS is $169.99, with the price of a Nintendo Wii being recently lowered to $129.99. A $40 price difference to allow you, the gamer, the ability to play twice as many games. Oh, and by the way the Nintendo 3DS is a system that is still being supported. Also keep in mind that only recently was the price of the Wii dropped. When it launched it was $249.99 - the same price the 3DS launched at, only with many more games that could be played.

The decision is easy. More games, more portability, better controls (the Wiimote is horrid), and Pokemon. I had to add that in there as we all know how popular that series still is. Then there's the whole argument around parents buying their children the DS due to it's portability for road trips, plane rides, and every other reason to keep your child occupied so that you don't have to.

At the end of the day it's not even that the Nintendo 3DS is competing against the Playstation Vita. It's basically competing against the Nintendo Wii.

Now let's compare the Vita titles versus the Playstation 3 titles (games in red are Playstation exclusives):

Playstation Vita
   Playstation 3
Unit 13
   Grand Theft Auto IV
Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus
   Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Frobisher Says!
   Batman: Arkham City
Hustle Kings
Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational
   Red Dead Redemption
MLB 12: The Show (also on PS3)
   Portal 2
Plants vs. Zombies
   Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Virtua Tennis 4: World Tour Edition
   Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention
   Mass Effect 2
MotorStorm RC
   Street Fighter IV
WipEout 2048 
   Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
FIFA Soccer
   The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3
Uncharted: Golden Abyss
   Mass Effect 3
Metal Gear Solid HD Collection
   The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Super Stardust Delta
   God of War III
BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend
   Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
Lumines: Electronic Symphony
   Super Street Fighter IV
Gravity Rush
   Rock Band
Sound Shapes
Mortal Kombat
   The ICO & Shadow of the Colossus Collection
Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack
   Pac-Man Championship Edition DX
LittleBigPlanet PS Vita
   Rock Band 2
Rayman Origins
   LittleBigPlanet 2

There are 8 Playstation 3 games in the top 25 that are exclusive franchise titles, as opposed to 4 on the Vita, with each of those having Playstation 3 counterparts (if not the exact same game). Moral of the story here is if you want to play great Playstation games, you don't need the Vita. The Playstation 3 has plenty out there for you, and the list above doesn't even list half of them. For the record, the lowest ranked game in the Playstation 3 list is scored at 91.

The main reason the DS/3DS is absolutely destroying the Vita in terms of global sales (163,559,285 total DS/3DS and 481,573 for Vita) is simply due to the fact that Nintendo fans don't really have a choice. If they want to play solid, Nintendo branded games they have to go with the portable systems. Even when you compare the DS/3DS sales to the Nintendo Wii (93,663,523) you see a substantial difference.

Scary thought, what if Nintendo supported both systems? Or even more frightening, focused their support on one system.

I don't know if it's brilliance or ignorance that the Wii hasn't been supported by Nintendo themselves, but it's clearly working. As a casual gamer, parent buying a system for their child, or a fan of games like Zelda, Mario, and Pokemon, your choice is made for you: Nintendo 3DS. If Sony wants their Vita to succeed they are going to need to take a page out of Nintendo's book and start making games that people actually want to play.

The handheld war comes down to game choice, yes. Game choice within brands however. It's remarkable how few games there are for the Wii compared to how many there are for the 3DS. It's also remarkable how few games there are for the Vita compared to the Playstation 3. Sony needs to figure out whether they want to support the Vita, the Playstation 3, or both. Nintendo has clearly made their decision - even with releasing a new console this year, which has already been reported to have difficulty getting developers to get behind it.

Luckily for us the 3DS is a waterfall of great games.

Source: Metacritic, VGChartz
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