One of the more surprising and unique features on the 3DS is the inclusion of Game Coins. On the surface, you might guess that players could earn Game Coins by performing certain accomplishments in games, akin to achievements. Nintendo, however, has a very different vision in mind for Game Coins.
As we've learned, the 3DS has a built-in pedometer which tracks every step you take, even while the device is in sleep mode. Taking a certain amount of steps will earn you Game Coins, which can then be used in games to unlock content in games. A pretty unusual feature which was seen in last year's Pokemon release, via the Pokewalker.
I was curious why Nintendo would bother including the feature, so I asked Reggie Fils-Aime, the President and COO of Nintendo of America. Here's what he had to say.
"Nintendo has always been at the forefront of active gaming. Getting up, moving around. Obviously the Wii launched that. As you touched on, we've also done it with a number of handheld games. We had a game called Personal Training Walking that leveraged a pedometer. And obviously the most recent two Pokemon games leveraged a similar type of system.
Wanting your players to stay stay active is a nice marketing spin, but from a business perspective, how does it help Nintendo?
"What [the Game Coins feature] does, it's just another reason to encourage people to get up and walk around. Why? Because we want them to be carrying their Nintendo 3DS, going through Street Pass, Spot Pass types of activity. That's how it all ties together."
Nintendo's rationale is that they want the 3DS to be a device you take with you every day to work or school, even if you're not playing anything. It becomes a permanent fixture in your bag or purse. With the DS, you might have left it at home when you weren't in the midst of a game. Game Coins give you a reason to always take it with you, thus making it an indispensable device, and one that you'll want to support with new software purchases.
It'll be interesting to see whether Game Coins offer enough incentive to make the 3DS the sort of device you carry around with you all day, every day. Once we have more details on what Game Coins unlock, we may have a better sense of what their value is like. For the time being, it's an interesting experiment from a company known for taking chances.