Last Saturday’s announcement of Pokémon Black Version 2 & Pokémon White Version 2 was rather shocking.  We knew that there was going to be a Pokémon game announcement, and we all knew that it was likely going to be the third installment of the fifth generation Pokémon game that would most definitely include new Kyurem forms.  We didn’t, however, see it all.

Most fans were predicting the game announcement would be Pokémon Gray, the “third” installment in the Generation V Pokémon series, but they were wrong.  Instead both Pokémon Black & White Version 2 were announced, two separate games.  This marks the first time in history that a main series Pokémon game is getting two different titles as the “third” installment and the first time a main series Pokémon game gets a direct sequel in terms of numbering.

A bigger shocker was that both Pokémon Black & White Version 2 will be for the DS and not the 3DS.  That’s right, the new main series Pokémon games won’t be for Nintendo’s latest handheld.

Many people are discussing this decision, but was it the right way to go?

The Good

There are some good reasons that Nintendo and The Pokémon Company International would like to keep these new games on the Nintendo DS.  The most significant factor is the global the install base for the Nintendo DS family of hardware, which sits at approximately 150 Million units.  Yes, that includes four different hardware configurations (DS, DS Lite, DSi, and DSi XL), but one cannot simply scoff at a large install base like that.

Comparably, the 3DS has sold around 16 Million units globally, and one must also remember that the 3DS can also play DS titles. In reality, due to backwards compatibility, the install base for older DS titles is around 166 Million units. While that number seems massive, one must remember that doesn’t equate to 166 Million different users, as many people have various DS or DS-compatible devices.

Additionally, Nintendo knows that this large DS install base is hungry for Pokémon.  Pokémon Black and Pokémon White, which released last March in regions outside of Japan, has gone on to sell around 13 million units globally.

Maybe Nintendo is worried that the current market of 3DS owners isn’t enough to support the kind of sales that they expect from a new main series Pokémon release.  The original DS launched in 2004, and it took until 2007 for the first main series Pokémon game to come out for that handheld outside of Japan (Diamond and Pearl). Could it also be that the current 3DS install base isn’t saturated with Pokémaniacs?  It could very well be that 3DS sales haven’t fully penetrated the main age demographic for the series. Again, Nintendo and The Pokémon Company International want to profit off these new games as much as possible.

The bottom line is that releasing both Pokémon Black and White Version 2 on the Nintendo DS will just increase profits for these two specific games.  This is a short-term approach, but it will work.

As far as the player is concerned, this means more people will be able to enjoy the games, and that is important, since Pokémon thrives on competing and trading with others.  Additionally, maybe you are someone out there that has yet to purchase a 3DS and are happy that you can wait a bit longer.  Regardless, after looking at the numbers, this is an announcement that will benefit more players than hurt.

The Bad

While the points mentioned above may sound great, they aren’t without fault.

Nintendo is trying to build up an install base for the 3DS, and has been doing a great job so far.  If Pokémon Black and White Version 2 were just ports of Pokémon Black and White with 3D graphics and some new features, and made exclusively for 3DS, they would easily sell many more 3DS units and promote healthy growth for the 3D handheld.  It’s clear that most people that would have picked up a 3DS for the latest main series Pokémon games would also, eventually, buy other non-Pokémon games.

For this reason, I think it would have been a better decision to promote long term growth for the 3DS instead of going for the quick buck (although a big one) that Pokémon Black and White Version 2 on the original DS represents.

The concerns don’t end here.  Pokémon fans that don’t have a 3DS may now hold off on buying one altogether.  If someone is a major Pokémon fan, and they know that these games are coming to the DS, won’t it now be harder to get them to make the jump to the 3DS?

Because both Pokémon Black and White Version 2 are coming to the DS, it’s likely that the next main series Pokémon games won’t hit until late 2013 in Japan and, therefore, 2014 in North America.  Additionally, I would expect to see a 3DS Lite around this time.  Savvy consumers may be thinking the same thing, thus delaying a 3DS purchase.  This hurts Nintendo in the long run.

I’m also confident that many people bought a 3DS in hopes of new main series Pokémon games and, after this announcement, they may feel burned in the short-term.

The “Unown”

There are still some unknown factors in this Pokémon Black and White Version 2 situation.  We still don’t know much about the game at all!

That’s right.  There hasn’t been a single screenshot, gameplay video, or much information outside of there being two new forms for Kyurem, and of course both games heading for the Nintendo DS.  Due to this lack of info, I feel Nintendo and the Pokémon Company International may still have a chance to use both Pokémon Black and White Version 2 to their advantage by selling 3DS units while still profiting massively off the traditional DS market.

Long time Nintendo fans may remember that The Legend of Zelda Oracle Series released for the Game Boy Color only one month before the Game Boy Advance launched in North America.  Why is this significant?  Both games had added features when played on a Game Boy Advance.

Nintendo and the Pokémon Company International would be wise to do something similar for both Pokémon Black and White Version 2.  It’s likely that Black Kyurem and White Kyurem will be exclusive to Pokémon White Version 2 and Pokémon Black Version 2 respectively.  What if the player had the option to catch them both in either game when played on the 3DS?

Other ideas include special 3DS access to Pokémon that know moves they previously couldn’t learn when playing on a DS.  Maybe there can also be an entirely new area only accessible to 3DS owners, or special 3DS exclusive Pokémon forms.  The ideas go on and on.

Having 3DS exclusive content would solve the problem by giving Pokémon fans that shelled out more cash for the 3DS a sense of satisfaction and a slight competitive edge over those that didn’t.  At the same time, those Pokémon fans that have been holding off on a 3DS purchase may be motivated to get one because of the exclusive content. This, in turn, would increase the 3DS install base.  Both Pokémon Black and White Version 2 could end up being titles that help to move some of the DS install base over to the 3DS by taunting them with content.

Ultimately, I think it’s way too early to tell if releasing both Pokémon Black and White Version 2 on the DS is the right choice, but Nintendo keeps telling people that the new games are also playable on the 3DS.  This could be nothing more than stating the obvious, but hopefully, for the sake of growing the 3DS market, it means there will be 3DS exclusive features.

Want to stay up to date on the latest Nintendo news, information, editorials, and more?  Follow me on Twitter @KingNintendoFan or Like Me on Facebook.  Be sure to let me know what you think about the decision to release both Pokémon Black Version 2 and Pokémon White Version 2 on the DS.

18 COMMENTS

  1. Personally, the best thing I think they can do is make them as normal, and also make a 3d version that costs maybe $10 more. But, this will only work if the games are still compatible with each other (so someone with Pokemon white 2 could still battle someone with Pokemon black 2 3d) If not, then they should just stay with the DS/DS lite/DSI system.

    P.S. ‘DS’ stands for double screen. So think about ‘3DS’

  2. It’s the right move for a huge money maker. It’s the wrong move for moving the 3DS. Had the game shipped on the 3DS… it would of moved units. 

  3. What about the people who ultimatly can’t afford a 3DS yet? It would be still expensive even after you traded in your old DS and adding the price for this game( mind you, 3DS games ae starting to become expensive) it might be a while before many people can purchase the system and the game.

    • Usually you get a game with a system in a bundle. Games should be cheaper on the 3ds now when they are new because the hype after release and the upping of prices after the cutback (ironically) are over for now.

  4. Well it my mother (who is 48 and plays pokemon) and my sister (who is 13 and plays pokemon) do not own a 3ds as of yet and my mother’s ds is only a year old. My mom would most likely upgrade with a new 3ds revision as long as it stayed under $200 dollars. But that is a year or two away from now…  (Only my brother and I have a 3ds system.) Also! Usually it takes Game freak a couple of years before putting a new pokemon game on a new platform. It takes time and experimentation to figure out a systems limitations and strengths. It is a smarter move to work with your larger ds owner base than to jump on the 3ds bandwagon. I’d expect a 3ds pokemon maybe 2 years from now. I’d rather a strong game than a rushed 3d port anyways… 

  5. Pokémon Gray &  Pokémon Grey ; haha.

    Anyway, I think it’d be a bad idea to give the 3DS owners more content in any way at all. I think the 3DS owners should simply just get 3D graphics but the same game as the people who play it on the DS. Sure you can’t rely on this new set of Pokemon games to sell many 3DS’s, but Pokemon isn’t the only game in the world. 3DS will sell more guaranteed. Give it time. This year at Christmas? 3DS is gonna sell a lot. Next year? They might have 3DS lite, and that’s gonna sell too. Next year would probably be a good idea to move the Pokemon games to 3DS. But if they do I want some EXTREME graphical improvement, and even a stadium of sorts like the console Pokemon games have. The 3DS is supposed to be nearly as powerful as the Wii. If they leave Pokemon looking the same as it does now, there is absolutely NO reason AT ALL to bring the Pokemon game to 3DS exclusively except to sell more 3DS’s. The 3D effect just isn’t that appealing… I mean, I don’t know about anyone else, but if there are people out there who would buy the 3DS JUST for the 3D, well… I don’t know. And when you make a game, your primary goal shouldn’t be to sell more systems it should be to make the customer like the game. So whatever. :P It would piss off a lot of people if the 3DS owners has access to areas of the game or special items/pokemon that the DS owners didn’t have. If they did that it’d feel just like those F2P MMO’s do. Where you can subscribe to get more benefits but if you don’t you’ll be missing. People wouldn’t want to buy Pokemon to not be able to access everything in the game. Besides if the game does have extra areas in it only for 3DS I’m sure the action replay could find a way inside… lol. Though, I do think it’d be alright to give the 3DS owners something more subtle like: If you buy the 3DS version of Pokemon Black and White 2 your starter Pokemon would be shiny your first time starting the game. Or something like that. A new area only accessible to 3DS owners is just… too much. And a “competive edge”? Isn’t competition supposed to be fair? And also, I know what your talking about with the LoZ: Oracle series. But the special features weren’t much, they were subtle, not enough to make 99% of people want to buy a GBA for that sole reason, but enough to make the game more fun and make some people want to buy a GBA for that sole reason. Also, I own a 3DS so… I’m just saying. This is too long. :O

  6. Pokémon Gray &  Pokémon Grey ; haha.

    Anyway, I think it’d be a bad idea to give the 3DS owners more content in any way at all. I think the 3DS owners should simply just get 3D graphics but the same game as the people who play it on the DS. Sure you can’t rely on this new set of Pokemon games to sell many 3DS’s, but Pokemon isn’t the only game in the world. 3DS will sell more guaranteed. Give it time. This year at Christmas? 3DS is gonna sell a lot. Next year? They might have 3DS lite, and that’s gonna sell too. Next year would probably be a good idea to move the Pokemon games to 3DS. But if they do I want some EXTREME graphical improvement, and even a stadium of sorts like the console Pokemon games have. The 3DS is supposed to be nearly as powerful as the Wii. If they leave Pokemon looking the same as it does now, there is absolutely NO reason AT ALL to bring the Pokemon game to 3DS exclusively except to sell more 3DS’s. The 3D effect just isn’t that appealing… I mean, I don’t know about anyone else, but if there are people out there who would buy the 3DS JUST for the 3D, well… I don’t know. And when you make a game, your primary goal shouldn’t be to sell more systems it should be to make the customer like the game. So whatever. :P It would piss off a lot of people if the 3DS owners has access to areas of the game or special items/pokemon that the DS owners didn’t have. If they did that it’d feel just like those F2P MMO’s do. Where you can subscribe to get more benefits but if you don’t you’ll be missing. People wouldn’t want to buy Pokemon to not be able to access everything in the game. Besides if the game does have extra areas in it only for 3DS I’m sure the action replay could find a way inside… lol. Though, I do think it’d be alright to give the 3DS owners something more subtle like: If you buy the 3DS version of Pokemon Black and White 2 your starter Pokemon would be shiny your first time starting the game. Or something like that. A new area only accessible to 3DS owners is just… too much. And a “competive edge”? Isn’t competition supposed to be fair? And also, I know what your talking about with the LoZ: Oracle series. But the special features weren’t much, they were subtle, not enough to make 99% of people want to buy a GBA for that sole reason, but enough to make the game more fun and make some people want to buy a GBA for that sole reason. Also, I own a 3DS so… I’m just saying. This is too long. :O

  7. I’m double posting…
    I forgot about this.
    “I’m also confident that many people bought a 3DS in hopes of new main series Pokémon games and, after this announcement, they may feel burned in the short-term.”
    Why would anyone buy a system HOPING that a game you want to be made for it will be made for it? I’m confident that more than 75% of people don’t do that. I’m also confident that a majority of the current 3DS sales are from: People just wanting the latest thing, the LoZ: Ocarina of Time, some of the other new games involving Nintendo’s well-known mascot Mario, and the rest of the sales were for other games. I’m confident that a very low percentage of the sales of 3DS were from people buying it expecting a game that they wanted to be released for it. Now, that’s just confidence. And confidence means nothing. It’s not fact obviously. :P

    Also, I think another thing to add to the 3DS version is using your Mii somehow with other 3DS owners. See? Those kind of ideas are ideas that would make the 3DS owners not entirely bummed-out but also not take anything away from the DS owners/not make them feel like they’re missing out on anything huge.

  8. I would have liked it better if they announced the third generations remakes cause I’ve been waiting for those a long time but I guess Pokemon black and white 2 are alright

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