Earlier this year Nintendo released a brand new handheld console, a supposingly innovative system which was regarded by many as a gimmick device. With their brand new 3DS, Nintendo had promised “a breakthrough in portable entertainment”, and had called their device “a cutting-edge piece of hardware that is more than just a leap forward in 3D gaming technology”, with “built-in features and applications that are accessible right out of the box.” They had promised a unique social experience, and claimed that their device “opens up a whole new world of eye-popping gameplay possibilities.”
3D gaming, however, is currently still very much a gimmick, as the 3D used in the games do not actually affect the gameplay in any meaningful way. Also, unfortunately as of right now, the 3DS is still missing some of its promised features, including access to the internet browser and the online games shop. Meanwhile, other core features like the StreetPass functions are more or less made redundant for most users, due to a lack of compatible users in their nearby areas. On top of that, the system had launched with a very limited and lacklustre lineup of games, a lineup which did not fully take advantage of the systems hardware, and failed to show off its more interesting features. At the end of the day, we are left with a system that feels and functions very much like all the other existing systems on the market. Simply put – at this current stage in time, the 3DS fails to live up to its potential, and its own promise of innovation.
To be fair, this device was released only recently, and it is early days still for the console. But, there lies the problem. There are so many companies out there promising innovation, but often, especially in the gaming world, it feels like they are banking on innovation happening at a later stage on their systems, as supposed to delivering the innovation that they themselves have promised along with their products. Or worse still, is seeing companies out there releasing products that shows great potential for innovation, and then seeing the very same companies failing to nurture and capitalise on their own products, and thus, in the process allowing their products to become mere gimmicks.
There is a very thin line between innovation and gimmick. True innovation have become few and between nowadays, and products and features which companies herald as ‘innovation’ rarely are. Which is why it angers me so much, seeing companies claiming territory on the side of innovation, but ends up spending all of their time dancing on the borderline, but never quite landing on either side. It just breaks my heart, seeing all the wasted possibilities out there. It is like seeing a cartful of cold deserts melting quietly under a hot summer sun – all that potential, wasted, abandoned, and unrealised…