Nintendo playing nice with 3DS developers

Company says it's doing "everything" it can to help third-party developers get the most out of its 3DS portable-gaming device. But will third parties believe it?

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read
The 3DS has strong third-party support, Nintendo says.
The 3DS has strong third-party support, Nintendo says. Nintendo

With the U.S. launch of the Nintendo 3DS just days away, the game company wants to be clear that it's doing its part to help third parties succeed on its newest portable-gaming device.

Charlie Scibetta, Nintendo of America senior director of corporate communications, told IndustryGamers in an interview published Friday that his company is doing "everything we can to help [third parties] promote their products, to get their products visibility" on the Nintendo 3DS.

The 3DS, which allows gamers to play 3D titles without the need of special glasses, is scheduled to hit U.S. store shelves on Saturday for $249. The device launched in Japan last month and sold out in its first weekend of availability.

Third-party development on Nintendo platforms has been an issue that the game company has been forced to deal with over the years. Although its Wii and DS are the world's top devices in their respective game categories, third-party titles haven't reaped the same kind of success as Nintendo's own games.

In January, Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata revealed lists of the top-selling games for all devices. Out of the top 20 bestselling titles in the U.S. last year, 11 of those games were launched on the Wii or DS, and nine of them were developed by Nintendo. In Japan, all seven of the top-selling Wii games last year were developed by the game company, while three of the five top DS games came from Nintendo.

It was a similar story in 2009.

In a company earnings call in November of that year, Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello said the "Wii platform has been a little weaker than we had originally anticipated." He also looked beyond his own company and told investors that across the industry, "very, very few multiplatform titles are succeeding on the Wii so far."

During that call, he promised investors that he would work with Nintendo to try to solve that issue. But just a few months ago, he told IndustryGamers that he believes Nintendo does "less to promote third-party content" than its own games.

"I can come up with a dozen titles in the last decade, but it's really tough to come up with a dozen great titles that have been platform-defining for them that weren't their own," Riccitiello told IndustryGamers. "I don't care whether it's Mario or Twilight Princess or GoldenEye, it was their own content. I'm going back to [Nintendo 64], and I can go back to [Super Nintendo Entertainment System] if you want, but they've never really been a heavy third-party supporting system."

When it comes to the 3DS, however, it seems few developers are as willing to take issue with Nintendo. The portable-gaming device will have 18 games available at launch, and another 12 that will arrive in the next few months. And as Scibetta pointed out to IndustryGamers, "only five of those are from Nintendo."