Why Are People So Upset About the 2DS?
I have to admit, when I first heard the news that Nintendo was releasing an incarnation of the 3DS that plays games in two dimensions, I thought it was a joke. My gut reaction was shame and embarrassment for a company that I typically defend. But after learning more about the product and its intended function, I was right back to defensive mode.
There's nothing wrong with feeling confused or even angry about the release of the 2DS. The mere fact that Nintendo has created something that essentially takes a step backwards in time is a little frustrating and may come across as a kind of affront to devoted gamers. People who play video games are always scouting for the newest technology to get behind, so when they hear that a company is deliberately withholding a feature from a new console, they have a right to feel betrayed. We saw an extreme example of this with the Xbox One and its many planned restrictions. But the 2DS is entirely different, and I hope that over time gamers will come to understand its purpose.
The 2DS is not designed to be the next generation in hand held gaming, and it's not even meant to compete with its three dimensional counterpart. The 2DS is targeting a demographic leftover from the unfortunate news that the 3D effect of the 3DS can damage the eyes of younger players. When parents learned that their children run certain health risks simply by playing with a toy, that sealed off a massive chunk of Nintendo's core audience: children 7 and under.
Almost all of Nintendo's best games are designed to appeal to younger players, scrubbed clean of violence and vulgarity. This is an effort that was both wasted on the 3DS's health restrictions and worked to alienate older players who are sometimes turned off by sugar-coated entertainment. That narrowed the demographic a bit to older kids and adults who don't mind a large library of E Rated games. The 2DS is intended to fix this problem.
Parents who thought of the 3DS as an expensive eye-damager can finally feel comfortable buying a product that's both safe for their children and easier on the wallet. The structure of the 2DS is also considerably more durable than the 3DS because the center hinge is removed, which could be another selling point for parents still holding out. Thirty dollars less might not be much of a drop; but, as a consumer, I can attest that sometimes even the tiniest discount can convince me to make a purchase.
Nintendo's plan is to gather up those final straggling consumers who hadn't yet picked up a 3DS system. And just because the 2DS was designed with children in mind, that doesn't mean Nintendo is only selling it to kids. I know at least two adult males who admitted they might finally give in to the temptation and buy Nintendo's latest hand held now that there's a cheaper model; and also because they've tried out the 3D effect and it hurts their eyes (or they just don't like it).
Some of the complaints I've heard thrown around about the 2DS is that it doesn't fit into any given pocket. I have three responses to this. First, for children 7 and under, the original 3DS would have a hard time fitting in their tiny pockets anyway, so the size difference doesn't matter much to them. Similarly, due to the strange trends of fashion, most pockets designed for girls and women wouldn't fit any portable system. For older male gamers who are interested in carting around a portable console, most pants pockets these days are pretty wide. Any pair of pants of mine would easily fit two 3DS systems side by side—and the 2DS is considerably thinner than the 3DS so it may in fact be pretty comfortable.
I've also heard people complain that the screens are now exposed to scratches and the elements. The 3DS's clam-shell design did do wonders in protecting the touch screen, but virtually no other hand held electronic devices on the market did the same—and they survive just fine. Phones, tablets, competing consoles, you name it—none of them come equipped with a screen-guard built right into the structure. So criticizing the 2DS for being as well designed as every other device out there is an argument that holds very little water. Also, Nintendo made the smart move of casting the 2DS's case to look like a tablet—an aesthetic that's all the rage these days.
Finally, to those who are upset about the release of the 2DS I say this: ignore it. If you're uninterested in the product, it's probably because it wasn't made for you. The 2DS is not the next generation, it's the prequel. It's here to scavenge the last remaining customers who are willing to buy a bestselling portable console but haven't quite been convinced yet. So if you don't want it, don't worry about it.
I will say this. The commercials I've seen for the 2DS so far have not been doing an excellent job of depicting the console correctly. Some of the backlash the product has been creating is probably due to the strange way that Nintendo decided to promote the 2DS, excitedly reporting that it plays 3DS games in 2D! As if that's a specification to get excited about. Thankfully, Nintendo's loyal supporters are here to explain to the doubters that the 2DS was created for a very specific purpose, and if that still makes you angry then I guess you'll just have to wait until the 3DS gets another price drop.