Mooning the Competition

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I couldn’t resist that title, sorry! Who can blame a guy, when developer Renegade Kid has announced that 3DS will be getting a remake of its beloved DS game, Moon? Moon Chronicles has the chance to be an improvement over the original, as it will be bringing a couple of much needed things to 3DS; episodic content and a first-person shooter. Much like DS before it, 3DS seems like a no-brainer platform for an FPS, but developers have, so far, shied away from them on the system. That’s all set to change with Moon Chronicles.

While I worry about altering its pacing by breaking the game into episodes, Moon‘s comeback is a great sign for the industry as a whole. Moon didn’t set any sales records, but it was atmospheric, moody, and smart in a way that just isn’t often seen on a handheld. Moon Chronicles will hopefully be able to reach a new audience and reaffirm to other developers that 3DS can be a vehicle for creativity and risks just like DS was.

That talk about creativity includes the aforementioned pricing and distribution model Moon Chronicles will be sold under. I’m all for devs embracing episodic installments of a game if it will help sales in the longterm (and, thus, guarantee a release!). Again, there’s the issue of pacing to consider when it comes to titles that were formerly released as single servings, but it’s nevertheless a brilliant way of breaking down monetary barriers for customers hesitant to commit upwards of $9-$10 dollars on an unknown quantity.

$10 bucks doesn’t sound like much, but in a world where $1 is the price of entry for many mobile games on iOS and Android, it’s no surprise that consumers now have different expectations. Unfortunately, despite handhelds like 3DS and PlayStation Vita offering a better and more varied experience of play via their mixture of traditional and touch interfaces, many players are simply turned off by those systems’ higher game prices. Episodic releases allow pricing on dedicated gaming handhelds to be more competitive with smartphones and tablets without limiting devs from making a profit off of their games.

I know, it’s not like the game really becomes any cheaper if the pieces all add up to the average price of a retail release, but that’s really being unfair. It’s a psychological thing, and considering it might get more people in the door and allow them to cut the game off at the knees if they don’t like it, I think the consumer is better off, in the end. Regardless, when Moon Chronicles drops, it will be another feather in Nintendo’s cap, and hopefully inspire more developers and players to give the eShop a go.

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