The eShop is an opportunity for Nintendo. Other developers and publishers have been making fantastic use of the PlayStation Store and Xbox Live Arcade to make sure little known games and indies get an audience while accepting minimal risk for their efforts. Yet, almost 3 years after its launch, Level-5 and XSEED are the only companies that are doing it right.
Publishers should be looking at the eShop as an opportunity. It's a chance to test the waters with games that might normally get localized or made, and see how people react, without having to worry about the costs of creating physical copies or even mass marketing. Basically, it's an opportunity to be inventive. Sadly, these two companies seem to be the only ones taking advantage.
Let's start with Level-5, since they've been the most proactive when it comes to the eShop. Anyone who's heard the tale of Guild01 and Guild02 can see the genius. Both were mini-game collections, containing games created by famous developers. Releasing them as-is, on carts, could have led to a sales disaster for the company. Instead, they split the games up and sold them separately on the 3DS eShop.
It was a win-win for everyone. People could pick and choose the titles that interested them most and, if one struck a chord, they could investigate further. Obviously, the efforts are paying off, because just last week Weapon Shop de Omasse, the last, unreleased, Guild01 game, was released on the 3DS eShop. It was accompanied by a massive Guild01 and 02 sale, which also shows how smart Level-5 is.
All the available Guild01 and 02 games dropped to $2.99 temporarily, showing Level-5 wasn't afraid to offer substantial price drops to lure in the uninitiated. Which is another important point. So far, it's really only the smaller developers and publishers that are consistently putting their games on sale in the eShop. Level-5's games have been reduced multiple times, as have many Atlus games.
Of course, mini-games and game sales are minor risks when compared to the bigger chances both Level-5 and XSEED have taken. Both companies are the only ones to date that have released eShop exclusive 3DS games. So far, the offerings include Level-5's just released Inazuma Eleven, and XSEED's Senran Kagura Burst and Unchained Blades. All three are major efforts.
Though, some could argue Inazuma Eleven isn't too big of a risk for Level-5. The game was translated into English, after all, since it was released in Europe already. Level-5 just had to apply the data to the 3DS version of the game released in Inazuma Eleven 1-2-3. But, XSEED's efforts with Senran Kagura Burst and Unchained Blades were shots in the dark. Neither had been released in other regions, and it meant a lot of work on the part of the company to get them prepared for a localization.
Level-5 and XSEED should be lauded for their efforts. They're trailblazers in the 3DS eShop, bringing us games that, in past handheld generations, would never have been released outside of Japan. They deserve our support, because if other companies see Level-5 and XSEED's investments paying off, it could mean a more diverse gaming environment for everyone with a 3DS.