If you went out and bought a New 3DS this year, you're probably enjoying the speedier load times and fantastic, eye-tracking 3D tech housed within, but what you really want it for is great games. Except there hasn’t exactly been a tidal wave of New 3DS exclusive games coming to the handheld. But the addition of the Unity game engine could very well mean that wave of games can begin to swell up. Would you enjoy playing a portable version of the survival game Rust, or building a city on-the-go in Cities: Skylines? Hell, I would. Adding more indie support for its consoles is something Nintendo has needed, and bringing Unity 3D onto the platform could prove to be a fantastic way to help small developers thrive on a Nintendo platform.
If you haven't heard of it, Unity 3D is a game engine that is largely used by indie developers to create their games. The platform is ridiculously cheap, easy to use, and gives creators enough freedom to produce anything from 2D platformers, to FPS games and full-blown RPGs. I'm not talking about rinky dink indie games here, either. The engine has been used to create popular titles such as Ori and the Blind Forest, Broforce, Wasteland 2, Device 6 and more. Putting those types of games on Nintendo's handheld could do wonders for promoting the appeal of upgrading to the New 3DS, and the 3DS's massive fanbase can give developers incentive to start thinking about developing on the platform.
The Wii U already has Unity support, bringing games such as Ittle Dew, Squid Odyssey, and Teslagrad to the eShop. But developing on the home console doesn't give indies access to a particularly large install base. The Wii U hasn't been selling gangbusters, trailing behind the competition at just over 9 million units sold over the life of the console (compared to Sony's 19 million) and third-party support for the platform has waned since launch. On the other hand, the New 3DS is more of what small developers are looking for. The handheld had a strong start, pulling in nearly 400,000 US sales at it's launch in February, and the 3DS still holds a strong community of faithful. Lifetime sales for all 3DS handhelds total over 52 million - a whole lot of potential customers. The New 3DS could be a new place for indies to shine.
It's great to be able to play Nintendo classics, like all of the Mario, Zelda, and Metroid games that are available in Nintendo's digital library, but at the moment, that's the majority of what you're going to get. With the deal bringing Unity to the 3DS, there's an opportunity for Nintendo platforms to be a place where gamers discover new games and developers, and a platform where devs can discover new game design concepts. Consoles like the Wii U and New 3DS have features that are unique from every other system out there. The 3D and touchscreen capabilities of the 3DS could spawn brand new game ideas and possibly some exclusive games for Nintendo's platform.
Unity support also means we could see popular indie titles hit the Nintendo system. Sidescrolling shooters like Broforce, RTS titles, tactics games, city builders, and many more types of games could flourish when exposed to the 3DS audience and work perfectly with alternative control schemes available on the 3DS. Games like Wasteland 2 could be ported to the handheld, giving that game exposure to a different audience, and fans already playing Unity games can experience the game away from their home consoles and computer screens.
In a market where competitors like Microsoft and Sony already have established indie support for their consoles, it's about time that Nintendo stepped up its efforts on all of its platforms. Adding Unity 3D support to the New 3DS gives indies an excellent platform to develop games on and it gives Nintendo the potential to build a vast game library with various genres from third-party developers on the handheld. It all seems like a win from whatever side you look at it, whether that perspective is from Nintendo, the devs, or gamers. Now it's a question of which game makers are going to take advantage of Nintendo's healthiest and most profitable fanbase.