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In retrospect, the Nintendo 3DS had pretty weak third party support

Jubenhimer

Member
Third party support. It's been a consistent issue regarding games systems released by Nintendo. While the company has its award-winning first party group to supply games for its various consoles, It's not always a guarantee that other game publishers will back their systems. It's been an issue that existed since the Nintendo 64, and one that Nintendo has attempted to resolve with its future systems, to varied degrees of success.

The Nintendo DS was one such success. While the system was made popular with innovative non-gamer titles such as Nintendogs and Brain Age, many hardcore gamers remember the DS for its excellent third party support. Many DS fans would argue, third parties outdid Nintendo's offerings on the system. With many big Japanese publishers putting out fan-favorite games and series such as Ace Attorney, The World Ends With You, Final Fantasy, and Western companies such as EA, Activision, Ubisoft, and WB bringing big franchises like Call of Duty, Skate, and Assassin's Creed, along with innovative oddities like Scribblenauts and Might and Magic.

So with the DS' successor, Nintendo 3DS being in development, it naturally got the attention of developers. The DS was only the second best selling gaming system ever made at 150 million units sold, and with more power and a stereo 3D display, developers could bring over games that couldn't have run on the original system. So when Nintendo first revealed the console at E3 2010, Nintendo took the time to spotlight all the games and franchises that would join the games from Nintendo's own software divisions such as Kid Icarus: Uprising and Nintendogs + Cats.


Some pretty big names were shown such as DJ Hero, Dead or Alive, Saints Row, Resident Evil, Assasin's Creed, Batman, Kingdom Hearts, and Metal Gear Solid. The 3DS was shaping up to be better than the DS in every single way... And then the system released.

The 3DS launch was notorious for being mediocre. The best game at launch Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition, a game people already played on consoles. And once sales of the system became sluggish in the summer, developers became antsy. As such, many of those promised projects from third parties slowly began being cancelled. In fact of that lineup, only about half of it came to fruition. And who knows how many other projects planned that were cancelled.

The 3DS' storefront, the Nintendo eShop, wasn't even ready to go at launch. We needed to wait until the June system update to download Virtual Console and digital games from it. As for the eShop itself, Nintendo learned quite a few lessons from WiiWare and strengthened its good points like allowing for self publishing, while removing most of its limitations such as its file size restrictions. Indie devs put out a few stand outs in the systems' early days, but like the rest of the 3DS' third party support, it'd eventually start to become limited, as the system's lack of power and engine support compared to other, more powerful consoles and mobile phones, meant it missed out on many of the big indie hits during the 8th generation.

Even once Nintendo started turning the system around and managed to get some must have titles out, third parties still were skeptical about it. Throughout its life, the 3DS was always that system that third parties just saw as... kind of there. While the DS got a wide range of titles from innovative artsy games, to miniturized versions of big console franchises at the time, most developers eventually just saw the 3DS as the system to throw together some quick and cheap RPGs, and maybe an occasional platformer. Nintendo knew this was a problem, and so 2012-2013 revolved around a strategy to distract 3DS owners from the system's middling third party support. Pump out big first party releases in rapid fire succession, and promote the shit out of the bigger third party releases such as Monster Hunter and Shin Megami Tensei IV. It certainly worked, the 3DS had what was perhaps their most aggressive first party support yet, but third party was rather underwhelming compared to its predecessor.

At the very least, it wasn't the Wii U, a console that the vast majority of the development community avoided like the plague after the first year or so. I'd say it was moreso on par with the GameCube and Wii's third party lineup. It's not... great, but it's got some solid stuff if you're willing to dig. And on the plus side, it fared better than the PlayStation Vita, which suffered from both poor third AND first party support.

TL;DR - The Nintendo 3DS was a fantastic system. But it was really more of a Nintendo first party and JRPG box than many fans remember or are willing to admit it to be. While it had some stand outs like Resident Evil Revelations and Tekken 3D. Third party support was generally pretty lackluster compared to the breadth of variety the DS saw.
 
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NeoIkaruGAF

Gold Member
Uhm… not really.
It had more JRPGs that I could play in a year, rhythm games, a ton of indies and smaller games, Monster Hunter, Kingdom Hearts, Resident Evil, and many more I can’t even remember now. I still have to even start about half of the stuff I bought for the system.

Sure, DS had more, but DS development was cheap and the thing printed money so everyone was on board. DS also had tons of shovelware that 3DS didn’t get precisely because it’d be costlier to develop and license and it wouldn’t have the same chance of selling, so it ended up on PC instead.
 

Jubenhimer

Member
Sure, DS had more, but DS development was cheap and the thing printed money so everyone was on board. DS also had tons of shovelware that 3DS didn’t get precisely because it’d be costlier to develop and license and it wouldn’t have the same chance of selling, so it ended up on PC instead.
I don't think I'd agree with this argument since I feel even the Nintendo Switch has better third party support than the 3DS, and that's an HD hybrid that can connect to a TV. Granted the Switch is a much more modern system with better engine support, but I feel like the sheer variety of games on Switch has kind of expossed how underwhelming the 3DS' third party support actually was IMO.
 

GeekyDad

Gold Member
3DS was a weak system for its time. Complete shit.
 

NeoIkaruGAF

Gold Member
I don't think I'd agree with this argument since I feel even the Nintendo Switch has better third party support than the 3DS, and that's an HD hybrid that can connect to a TV. Granted the Switch is a much more modern system with better engine support, but I feel like the sheer variety of games on Switch has kind of expossed how underwhelming the 3DS' third party support actually was IMO.
Switch has literal hundreds of games you wouldn’t regret if they didn’t exist, making the shop a nightmare to browse. That kind of quantity doesn’t mean quality. And all that stuff is there because of the Switch’s success. I’m glad I didn’t have to rummage through all that junk on 3DS, the shop was clumsy enough as it was.
 

Jubenhimer

Member
Switch has literal hundreds of games you wouldn’t regret if they didn’t exist, making the shop a nightmare to browse. That kind of quantity doesn’t mean quality. And all that stuff is there because of the Switch’s success. I’m glad I didn’t have to rummage through all that junk on 3DS, the shop was clumsy enough as it was.
That's true, but even disregarding that, the Switch still has much better third party support IMO. Even now, 5 years into its life, developers are still putting out unique exclusives like Daemon X Machina, and Ninjala, "Impossible" ports of console titles like Doom and The Witcher III, big live-service multiplayer titles like Fortnite and Knockout City, and high profile indie games for it. Meanwhile you almost never saw anything like Resident Evil: Revelations on the 3DS after the first year or so.
 
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lh032

I cry about Xbox and hate PlayStation.
Well third party games runs like ass on Switch, and some are cloud version.
 

gradient

Resident Cheap Arse
It's perhaps a bit unfair to compare the 3DS to the DS in terms of library size given how much of a monster the DS was. The DS got massive 3rd party support because it was a phenomenon and opened up a massive market of all ages that were highly appealing for 3rd parties. The obvious positive from this was a significant volume and variety of great 3rd party games, but like other massively successful consoles that also came with a lot of 3rd party trash as well.

The 3DS didn't take hold like the DS did and given it's very shaky start it didn't capture the momentum the DS had nor inspire the same confidence in 3rd party developers. Nonetheless given it's sales, in comparison to the DS it still did very well from 3rd parties and boasts having some of the best showings from some series of any console.

6 Shin Megami Tensei games
6 Entries in the Entrian Series
3(4 if we count 4 Ultimate separately) Mainline Monster Hunter games
1 Monster hunter RPG
2 Dragon Quest games
A Tales Game
A Rune Factory
2 Games from the Resident Evil series
2 Persona games (albeit not mainline)
A Kingdom Hearts game
Bravely Default 1 + 2
2 (3) Final Fantasy offshoots (Explorers and Theatrhythm 1 + 2)
A Metal Gear Solid game
A Castlevania
Street Fighter
Dead or Alive
Tekken
Project X-Zone 1 and 2
7th Dragon 3 Code VFD
Sega 3D arcade and a couple of Sonics
Minecraft
Terraria
Shovel Knight
Legend of Legacy 1 + 2
Stella Glow
Fantasy Life
Virtue's Last Reward
A Tom Clancy game (Ghost Recon - Actually a really great game)

Western devs definately weren't providing the same level of support as Japanese devs, but in terms of 3rd party representation there are some amazing representations of some 3rd party games and series on the system.
 
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Chastten

Member
I wouldn't call it great or anything, but it had decent Japanese support? There were plenty of jRPG's for me to play so there's that.

The formfactor wasn't really suited for fast paced action games so stuff like RPG's are all that matters to me personally. Mario Kart 7 is a great game, but I never played it much because my hands got uncomfortable really quick.
 
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Werewolf Jones

Gold Member
It wasn't as revolutionary as it could have been. I actually stopped using mine once I got a Vita in 2015 and went back to it last year to get the releases I missed. It's got some solid releases but yeah it would have been nice if it gotten something better.
 
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stranno

Member
It was actually pretty damn weak for the time: PICA200 (GPU) sucks, I/O performance sucks, clocks suck, you had two render two displays with that (which also sucks). And it was mainly a single-core machine, I haven't seen any game using the CPU time of the syscore (you can notice that if the home menu struggles while in-game, some homebrew use that extra power).

Nintendo couldn't even feature a compatible resolution to do an integer upscale to GBA or NDS, which sucks over all the other things :messenger_tears_of_joy:

Vita came out 10 months later and it was far more powerful: Cortex vs ARM11, much more ram, three usable cores, much better GPU and 2x PSP upscaling.
 
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GeekyDad

Gold Member
It was actually pretty damn weak for the time: PICA200 (GPU) sucks, I/O performance sucks, clocks suck, you had two render two displays with that (which also sucks). And it was mainly a single-core machine, I haven't seen any game using the CPU time of the syscore (you can notice that if the home menu struggles while in-game, some homebrew use that extra power).

Nintendo couldn't even feature a compatible resolution to do an integer upscale to GBA or NDS, which sucks over all the other things :messenger_tears_of_joy:

Vita came out 10 months later and it was far more powerful: Cortex vs ARM11, much more ram, three usable cores, much better GPU and 2x PSP upscaling.
From the thread title:

"...Nintendo 3DS had pretty weak third party support"

I think what you're referring to is perhaps addressed in a different thread.
 

Holammer

Member
The system was an overpriced failure. Part of a one-two punch that damn near killed Nintendo as smartphones had eroded the handheld market long before it released.
No wonder Third party support was lacking.
 

Woopah

Member
Gone are the days when most third parties will develop specific games for specific hardware. That change left 3DS out in the cold (especially in the West) and it's something Nintendo has begun rectifying with the Switch to make sure it can get multiplats (though there is still some progress to make).
 
3ds had way more 3rd party exclusive games then the vita and support for the 3ds was excellent the 3ds got games the vita never got to this day you can find hidden 3ds games especially from atlus,square and capcom and that before we talk about jp only games that you have to import great handheld.
 

stranno

Member
From the thread title:

"...Nintendo 3DS had pretty weak third party support"

I think what you're referring to is perhaps addressed in a different thread.
It's basically one of the main reasons for the lack of third party support. If you can't run the game on the system or offer a decent 3D experience (some games didn't have any at all) it's gonna be one game less on the system.

And the 3D experience of the first model wasn't any good. The Super-Stable processor improved it a lot, but the original experience was more about getting the correct angle than playing the games. Not a 3DS problem alone, of course, all those parallax-barrier phones that came out before and after 3DS suffered from the same problem.
 
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GeekyDad

Gold Member
It's basically one of the main reasons for the lack of third party support. If you can't run the game on the system or offer a decent 3D experience (some games didn't have any at all) it's gonna be one game less on the system.

And the 3D experience of the first model wasn't any good. The Super-Stable processor improved it a lot, but the original experience was more about getting the correct angle than playing the games. Not a 3DS problem alone, of course, all those parallax-barrier phones that came out before and after 3DS suffered from the same problem.
Eh, personally I was satisfied with both the third-party support and the original 3DS hardware. I'm still playing on it every day, truly.
 
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gundalf

Member
I think it has a great library, which is actually quite surprising since the 3DS was released in the time where you want to get your business ASAP involved into the new mobile smartphone gaming market.
 

Camreezie

Member
It's insane to me how good its library was even without a lot of third party support. Saying that though, they did still get games from the bigger Japanese publishers and it seemed to be the western ones that snubbed the 3DS. Sega Namco , Square and Capcom put a fair few of their series on it
 

Celine

Member
3DS had indeed weaker software support compared to other past Nintendo consoles which is easily verifiable by looking at the total numebr of titles released.
Here the number of titles, with a physical release, available in America for every Nintendo console as December 2021 (source: Nintendo).

NES: 679
GB: 965
SNES: 719
N64: 297
GBA: 1021
GC: 552
DS: 1737
WII: 1265
3DS: 497
WIU: 172
NSW: 1325

The causes are mostly related to 3DS being conceived with old paradigms in a rapidly changing world.

1) 3DS was conceived as a console for which developers had to create custom software for it, just like in the past, however in the '10s the development world quickly moved toward multiplatform support and middleware to try to reach the biggest audience possible.

2) Another big trend that erupted in the past decade was the rise of "indie development" which had in the digital distribution the essential tool to distribute self-produced software.
3DS digital support was weak and so, in conjunction with not supporting the most popular middelware engines, meant it missed a lot of possible third-party support.

3) Nintendo, even before 3DS launch, planned a push to drive the franchises commonly associated with PlayStation from PSP to 3DS (think about prestige japanese series shown for 3DS in the lead up of the console launch like Street Fighter, Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, Monster Hunter, Kingdom Hearts, Ridge Racer, Dead or Alive, Samurai Warriors) with the intent to drive off the market the PlayStation handheld line of consoles.
Nintendo achieved their set goal however the japanese push fizzle out in the second half because 3DS couldn't secure a strong market penetration outside of Japan and the lack of multiplatform middleware support meant that the 3DS efforts weren't deemed future-proof for japanese publishers that started to move all their resources for projects that targeted PS4/XBO/PC (and cross gen at the beginning of that generation of consoles).

4) The Smartphone revolution and console game development requiring more and more resources meant that the support provided in the past by western publishers for handheld console moved on greener pastures (big projects for TV consoles/PC and smaller projects for smartphones).


Nintendo understood all the above and made the right corrections with Switch (support of popular middleware out of the box, a special focus on indie software, Switch game software offerings being firmly in the console department and as away as possible from what Smartphones could offer in term of gaming, hybrid concept that let it embrace any kind of preferred game style).
 
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Woopah

Member
3DS had indeed weaker software support compared to other past Nintendo consoles which is easily verifiable by looking at the total numebr of titles released.
Here the number of titles, with a physical release, released in America for each Nintendo console as December 2021 (source: Nintendo).

NES: 679
GB: 965
SNES: 719
N64: 297
GBA: 1021
GC: 552
DS: 1737
WII: 1265
3DS: 497
WIU: 172
NSW: 1325

The causes are mostly related to 3DS being conceived with old paradigms in a rapidly changing world.

1) 3DS was conceived as a console for which developers had to create custom software for it, just like in the past, however in the '10s the development world quickly moved toward multiplatform support and middleware to try to reach the biggest audience possible.

2) Another big trend that erupted in the past decade was the rise of "indie development" which had in the digital distribution the essential tool to distribute self-produced software.
3DS digital support was weak and so, in conjunction with not supporting the most popular middelware engines, meant it missed a lot of possible third-party support.

3) Nintendo, even before 3DS launch, planned a push to drive the franchises commonly associated with PlayStation from PSP to 3DS (think about prestige japanese series shown for 3DS in the lead up of the console launch, game series like Street Fighter, Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, Monster Hunter, Kingdom Hearts, Ridge Racer, Dead or Alive, Samurai Warriors) with the intent to drive off the market the PlayStation handheld line of consoles.
Nintendo achieved their set goal however the japanese push fizzle out in the second half because 3DS couldn't secure a strong market penetration outside of Japan and the lack of multiplatform middleware support meant that the 3DS efforts weren't deemed future-proof for japanese publishers that started to move all their resources for projects that targeted PS4/XBO/PC (and cross gen at the beginning of that generation of consoles).

4) The Smartphone revolution and console game development requiring more and more resources meant that the support provided in the past by western publishers for handheld console moved on greener pastures (big projects for TV consoles/PC and smaller projects for smartphones).


Nintendo understood all the above and made the right corrections with Switch (support of popular middleware out of the box, a special focus on indie software, Switch game software offerings being firmly in the console department and as away as possible from what Smartphones could offer in term of gaming, hybrid concept that let it embrace any kind of preferred game style).
I was reading this post and being surprised at how accurately it described the situation.

Then I realized that it was a Celine post and so was always going to be of quality!
 
The 3DS launch was notorious for being mediocre. The best game at launch Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition, a game people already played on consoles. And once sales of the system became sluggish in the summer, developers became antsy. As such, many of those promised projects from third parties slowly began being cancelled. In fact of that lineup, only about half of it came to fruition. And who knows how many other projects planned that were cancelled.
The launch lineup was *atrociously bad*. Nintendo spun it as giving space to third-parties to let them sell their games, but really they just didn't have any of their big games ready yet. And Nintendo made the same mistake they made with the launch of the Wii U, (I realize 3DS launched first). They prioritized releasing the system as soon as they could, and not prioritizing having the software that would appeal to people, that would entice them to go out and buy a new system.

Many other causes for the 3DS always being kind of a struggle just to perform "ok" in the market. The launch price, especially given the lack of software at launch, was way too high. The big 3D fad was already falling off by the time the system launched, etc. Software delays, no right analog stick until way, way too late.

It was a platform made from a different era, selling in a new era, with Nintendo having to work really, really hard just to keep it going.
 
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kiphalfton

Member
Who cares about third party support when first party support was so strong. And besides first party games are the games you buy the system for in the first place.

This is the exact opposite issue the switch has. If anything they pivoted too hard in the opposite direction. Nobody ever remembers third party games. Nah that's always first party stuff.

But seems like people care more about quantity over quality.
 
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BlackTron

Member
It had the weakest support of any handheld they put out. BUT when the other ones are Game Boy and DS, that's not really saying much.

3DS is fine, it just came off as weak compared to the most successful gaming brands of all time...
 
Nintendo handhelds have had wonky western support since the GBA, DS had a shovelware phase and then the support vanished just like the Wii, but barely any real serious released. 3DS was worse than DS, Switch is looking to have gone past it's Wii u pity release phase since late 2020.
 
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