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Nintendo's 3DS being destroyed by mobile gaming... except not at all
News reported by 
Editor-in-chief
November 01, 2012, 20:33:01
 
At least, Matt Matthews at Gamasutra doesn't seem to think so. And he has lots of fancy charts and graphs using real live "numbers" to back up his view. His interpretation of the data is that Nintendo is basically still doing business as usual the same as the GBA / DS eras, without any hit, although his interpretation also requires considering the DS an anomaly of sorts.

What do you think?

Source: Gamasutra

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Posted: 11/01/12, 20:33:01    
 
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@deathly_hallows I didn't say "stay the course" at all though, I said there are much better places for Nintendo to look to expand the eShop using developers that handheld gamers care about. Nintendo handhelds already got Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, etc. and no one cared. Why would any Nintendo handheld owner particularly care if they got a game "from the developer of" Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, etc.?

I think there is some kind of misunderstanding here because it appears that you are painting my position as "Nintendo doesn't need Western developers" or "Nintendo shouldn't expand" or something or other. It's not. My position is simply that I haven't really seen any evidence that handheld gamers care an iota whether a 3DS game is made by a "big" cell phone developer or not, or that cell phone gamers will follow those developers to handhelds. (I'm not even sure if cell phone gamers follow developers on cell phones, I think 95% of the sales of the big games are people just buying what their friends are talking about, but that's a whole other can of worms.) And considering that I also don't think the "big" cell phone developers are particularly good developers, I just don't see the point in Nintendo spending time and resources to try to obtain exclusives from them. In fact, it's generally the worst kind of spending when you go for something that is "big" (and therefore most likely costly to obtain) but that doesn't really appeal to your market, because the cost to benefit ratio is out of whack. If handheld gamers aren't going to care about the name "Rovio" and such, why not spend your money on developers who it would be cheaper to work with and could output the same quality? (And you know there are many developers just as good.) And no one is going to convince me that Rovio is some brilliant casual game developer that has cracked into some subtlety of casual game development that no one else can touch. Maybe someone could convince me that of PopCap, but PopCap games with popular names haven't sold much on Nintendo platforms so far, so why should I believe that they would do any better with an exclusive?

The only advantage I really see is not so much in what they could gain, but what they could take from cell phones, but I doubt that would even matter. Cell phones get like 8,000 games a week, ultimately I doubt cell phone gamers will notice much if Rovio takes a bit of time off to make a Nintendo game.


Posted by 
 on: 11/03/12, 19:18:25  - Edited by 
 on: 11/03/12, 19:25:11
@deathly_hallows

I never used to see many people playing DSes and PSPs in public, I seldom played them in public myself, and I don't see tons of people playing smartphone games on the subway either. So what does that mean.

All I know is that the people around me who never owned handhelds before continue to not own handhelds, and some of them now have phones, but why add them in the equation now? They clearly weren't in the market for a dedicated gaming handheld, still aren't, and telling them the developer of Angry Birds is making an exclusive game for 3DS still wouldn't make them pay $180 for the thing.

My annoyance with all the Apple talk stems a bit from the fact that it's obscuring everything else. The name Apple makes people click on things and read articles, so it's in every article about the supposed troubles of the 3DS, but to me that's kind of the equivalent of all the rape and abortion talk of the presidential race: there are much more important issues that should be discussed and aren't. I don't care how nuanced Jargon thinks these views are: by bringing up Apple constantly, you're ignoring the actual issues.


Posted by 
 on: 11/03/12, 19:25:27  - Edited by 
 on: 11/03/12, 19:27:03
@Zero

How do you know that no one cares about Angry Birds on 3DS? How do you know that PopCap games haven't sold much on Nintendo platforms? I find it very difficult to know about any of these things, especially now that it's so hard for exclusives to get in the NPD Top 10.


Posted by 
 on: 11/03/12, 19:25:59
@Jargon

PopCap's feet shuffling when it comes to porting its games to Nintendo platforms is a big clue, no?


Posted by 
 on: 11/03/12, 19:27:39
@Guillaume

Not enough that I would say anything definitive about it.


Posted by 
 on: 11/03/12, 19:41:12
@Guillaume
Hm, well maybe NYC is a special case because people are so densely packed or commutes are so long, but you can literally watch the trends unfold by watching people on the subway. For example I didn't need to read an article to tell me that Game of Thrones books were popular, all of sudden there would literally be at least 2 or 3 people reading a GOT books in every car! That's not even counting the people reading the books on their Kindles (which there are many of)!

Anyway, regardless of that, I don't see why it's so annoying to discuss Apple, like it or not they are a player now, just like Sony or Microsoft. Trying to discuss the 3DS without discussing iOS would have been like talking about GCN without ever mentioning PS2, sure it would have been nice, but it's not realistic, especially in threads on the subject of "the 3DS being destroyed by mobile gaming"!

Gui said:
They clearly weren't in the market for a dedicated gaming handheld, still aren't, and telling them the developer of Angry Birds is making an exclusive game for 3DS still wouldn't make them pay $180 for the thing.

Getting iOS developers on the eShop wouldn't be a selling point like a traditional 3rd Party exclusive on a console (everybody buy a GCN!!! RE4 is the best game ever and it's only on... oh wait, never mind), it would be more to flesh out the offerings with cheap downloadable titles with tons of variety to make the eShop itself a more enticing offering. Obviously, if someone has never owned a handheld gaming device and never intends to, it won't make any difference, but for gamers having a robust eShop with tons of cheap and high-quality games in a ton of genres would be a good selling point (IMO). I mean what if in 2 or 3 years the eShop was the Steam of portable gaming? How awesome would that be?


Posted by 
 on: 11/03/12, 19:41:48  - Edited by 
 on: 11/03/12, 19:44:58
@Jargon Because I have my pulse on the sales of the industry? We're talking about developers who sold what... 10s, maybe 100s of millions of copies on cell phones? And they come to the DS and 3DS and they don't really make a splash at all. I know VGChartz isn't the most accurate, but I think they do ok from an estimate level, and looking at their DS list, the top game that I recognize from a 'cell phone developer" is PopCap's Plants vs Zombies at 190th place.

Do you have any evidence to the contrary? I'm curious. It seems pretty obvious that the phone to handheld transition hasn't made a splash, if it had, people would be talking about it. I really mean that, and yes, I definitely take the lack of chatter as evidence to my point, as well as the fact that any time I have seen sales numbers, the big names in the cell phone world are much, much further down the list.

@deathly_hallows But if we're just talking about padding out the eShop with cheap, cell-phone-like games, Nintendo can easily find a million developers willing to do so without turning to Rovio, PopCap, etc. who would certainly demand some real money to create an eShop exclusive because they're already making good money on phones and it would take away from that. I just don't see what getting the "big" cell phone developers adds to anything. And I suspect that Nintendo is thinking long and hard about what a bunch of $1-$2 shlock on eShop would do to the perception of the eShop. There is a reason that Microsoft kept XBLA and XBLIG as two different things. Yeah yeah I know, "cell phone games aren't all shlock" but trying to recreate the iOS effect to some degree definitely involves opening your platform up to a lot more cheap shlock.


Posted by 
 on: 11/03/12, 19:48:47  - Edited by 
 on: 11/03/12, 19:55:55
@Zero
Well it would probably help if these games were released day and date with the iOS versions and had price parity. I loved Plants Vs. Zombies, but it was like 2 years old and $17 more expensive by the time it was released on the DS (although it did have a sweet slipcase).

Plus the graphics just weren't as good, that's a small point to niggle, but why play on a blocky DS screen when it looks so much better on an iPhone or Android phone?

@Zero
I'm not talking about padding with crappy games, I'm talking about good games with real value like The Walking Dead, Galaxy on Fire 2, Machinarium, Bastion, Lili, NOVA 3, Hero Academy, Rayman Jungle Run, Asphalt 7, Sword & Sorcery EP, Need for Speed Most Wanted, etc.

(and yes I did just open the games folder on my iPad and list everything I own )


Posted by 
 on: 11/03/12, 19:56:07  - Edited by 
 on: 11/03/12, 20:02:26
@Zero

No I don't but I'm not relying on that fact to make an argument. You could be right but I don't think your evidence is very compelling.

@Guillaume

I don't think you should get annoyed at people talking about Apple in a thread that specifically is about comparing mobile gaming to Nintendo handhelds. You may disagree with their conclusions, but I'm not sure what you expected to see in here. I blame ad69.

Guillaume said:
"If you want to know what I think, if you want to know what I meant when I said the DS was an anomaly: if tablets and smartphones didn't exist at all, I believe we'd have seen a very similar drop from DS to 3DS. The crowd that bought Brain Age and that bought DS because it was a neat gadget they wanted: they weren't coming back for another helping, anyway."

That would seem very strange to me for Nintendo to give up on getting those people back unless they had reason to believe they had directed their focus elsewhere. Why intentionally leave millions of sales on the table?

Also, rape and abortion are pretty big issues. I agree other important issues get ignored in favor of that discussion, but that discussion is still relevant.


Posted by 
 on: 11/03/12, 20:04:40
@deathly_hallows Well there you go, you yourself brought up two reasons people will avoid the handheld version. Why indeed? I really don't think Nintendo has much to gain going after that market when like 90% (pulling from my ass) of people already own a smart phone and carry it everywhere they go. Differentiation is the key here, not acquiescence.

The thing about a phone is well... it is a phone. You're not going to convince people to carry around a 3DS instead of their phone, you have to convince them to carry it around in addition to the phone they are already carrying. I don't think there are many people out there thinking "man I love my 3DS, but there is no point in carrying it around because it doesn't have enough cell-phone-like games like my cell-phone that I'm absolutely going to be carrying around everywhere anyway has..."

I'm not saying there is absolutely nothing to be gained from getting these games, I just don't see that Nintendo should prioritize it. I think they will do much better following the A, B and C that I listed above, which will help give people a reason to want to carry around a 3DS in addition to their phone by adding exclusive content to the eShop that you can't find the equivalent for on a smart phone for $1.

@Jargon It's compelling enough, because I follow sales numbers and have a sense of what is happening and what definitely isn't happening. And really... what would it cost to get a Rovio / PopCap / etc. exclusive on the eShop? I think it would cost a lot, because honestly, Rovio and PopCap know what I know... that they're not going to sell millions on the eShop. They would want big bank up front to offset the fact that they spent time on a game that sells a fraction of their cell phone games.

@deathly_hallows I'm not really even 100% sure what we are talking about any more, because half of those games you listed were made by developers that I wouldn't think of as "cell phone developers" and certainly not the big names in cell phone development, right? This is the original comment that spurred on this branch of the discussion:

Tranquilo said:
You're right in that Nintendo (and Sony) should try to get the most popular iOS/Android games on their respective consoles. Or better yet, give them contracts for exclusive games.

This is the only thing I am arguing against. I don't really see a ton of value in going after the "most popular iOS/Android games" (some of which already exist on Nintendo platforms) nor do I see the value in going after the developers of those games specifically. I never said that there is no point in going after any developer who makes cell phone games. I'm just making the argument that the "most popular" ones don't have much to add to Nintendo's shop simply for being popular on cell phones, and that there are better uses of your time / resources if you are Nintendo than courting these specific cell phone developers.

To me that is a much different argument than something like "should Nintendo court cell phone developers who are making excellent games?" Nintendo should always court quality developers. And if they did, they would probably do it the same way they do a lot of their 2nd party stuff on their consoles... find a developer with talent but not much recognition (IE someone who will work cheaper than a big name) and work with them on a project. Like AlphaDream's Mario & Luigi games or Next Level's stuff or Monster Games or whatever. They don't really need Rovio and PopCap and the likes to do this.


Posted by 
 on: 11/03/12, 20:05:07  - Edited by 
 on: 11/03/12, 20:21:08
deathly_hallows said:

Getting iOS developers on the eShop wouldn't be a selling point like a traditional 3rd Party exclusive on a console (everybody buy a GCN!!! RE4 is the best game ever and it's only on... oh wait, never mind), it would be more to flesh out the offerings with cheap downloadable titles with tons of variety to make the eShop itself a more enticing offering. Obviously, if someone has never owned a handheld gaming device and never intends to, it won't make any difference, but for gamers having a robust eShop with tons of cheap and high-quality games in a ton of genres would be a good selling point (IMO). I mean what if in 2 or 3 years the eShop was the Steam of portable gaming? How awesome would that be?
First, how do you propose that Nintendo entice those developers? For the most part, they weren't interested in the handheld scene before smartphones came about. Now they see it as a vast userbase that they can try to get money from. To gain that audience's attention, they try different things, including making the game free with ads, or making people pay for bundles of in-game money.

Nintendo can't give those devs a userbase of a billion people. No dedicated handheld could. So they don't have that carrot to wave.

They also won't allow those devs to price their games themselves, and won't allow games to be priced at $1 as to avoid the situation iOS is in right now: your game has to be free to gain any kind of attention. And they probably won't allow devs to update their games willy-nilly, which is essential on iOS because something as stupid as your Buy button not being big enough could mean you won't make any money.

So what is the solution? Publishing them themselves, or what?

And are those games really that much higher quality than what's already on DSiware? Serious question. People already look down on DSiware and are saying it's just shit. A lot of those games are iPhone ports.

Jargon said:
That would seem very strange to me for Nintendo to give up on getting those people back unless they had reason to believe they had directed their focus elsewhere. Why intentionally leave millions of sales on the table?
I didn't say they gave up. I already said their gamble was glasses-free 3D and it didn't pay off the way they thought it would. Expecting a drop and "giving up" isn't the same thing.

And it's not a case of focus being directed elsewhere in the sense that "well I can get that Brain Age game on smartphones now". It's a case of people being over brain training for the most part. They might still get apps like it on their phones, but as far as I know, it's not brain training apps that are making a big splash on iPhone.

People's attention was probably away from Brain Age and away from their DSes 3 months after they bought the thing, well before tablets were a thing.

I really think the prevalence of phones and tablets today makes people forget what things were like a couple of years ago. Back when Brain Age was around, people were calling it a fad. And maybe that's exactly what it was. And it petered out well before the iPhone came out.

But today, people see phones everywhere, and they retroactively think that phones killed Brain Age.


Posted by 
 on: 11/03/12, 20:05:18  - Edited by 
 on: 11/03/12, 20:14:33
@Zero
If you take a game like Galaxy on Fire 2 or Bastion and put them on the eShop, the graphics might suffer a little (also you have to remember the 3DS is much more powerful than the DS, which is why Plants Vs. Zombies looked so blocky in comparison), but they would also gain tactile controls and play much better, for many gamers that would be a good reason to choose the 3DS version of Bastion over the iOS version.

This is getting to be a tiring argument though because I can tell by the language you use you're still stuck in the mindset that "phone games" are $1 throw-away, time-wasting, skinner boxes and nothing else. If that's your stance then nothing I could sway will change your mind that absolutely Nintendo should steer clear of every crappy game to ever touch iOS.

@Guillaume
Ditto for you, if you think all phone games are shit by definition then of course, yeah, Nintendo should just keep on doing what they're doing and ignore iOS, no reasons to put shitty $1 DLC scams on their hardware, it would just devalue the eShop and ruin everything.


Posted by 
 on: 11/03/12, 20:16:11
@Guillaume

So Nintendo won over a certain audience with a certain type of game, Nintendogs and Brain Training. Are you saying Nintendo tried to win that same audience over with glasses-free 3D? Or a new audience?


Posted by 
 on: 11/03/12, 20:18:15
@deathly_hallows That's not my mindset at all, I just don't think you are following what I'm actually arguing.

Zero said:
To me that is a much different argument than something like "should Nintendo court cell phone developers who are making excellent games?" Nintendo should always court quality developers. And if they did, they would probably do it the same way they do a lot of their 2nd party stuff on their consoles... find a developer with talent but not much recognition (IE someone who will work cheaper than a big name) and work with them on a project. Like AlphaDream's Mario & Luigi games or Next Level's stuff or Monster Games or whatever. They don't really need Rovio and PopCap and the likes to do this.


Posted by 
 on: 11/03/12, 20:22:35  - Edited by 
 on: 11/03/12, 20:23:59
Bastion isn't an iPhone game, it's a port. If you want ports of XBLA games on eShop I agree that that would be awesome. But the 3DS isn't really powerful enough to make that possible.

@Jargon

The mainstream. Whatever that is. It doesn't have to be the exact same people, but there is probably some overlap between the people who would think "oh, this thing has a touch screen and it can recognize my writing and it has that crazy Brain Age software for it that tells you the age of your brain!" and the people who would think "oh, this thing is 3D and can take pictures and has these weird AR games and you don't need glasses!". Or at least Nintendo thought so, but it turned out that second person didn't exist or got fed up of 3D when they saw Clash of the Titans.


Posted by 
 on: 11/03/12, 20:26:09  - Edited by 
 on: 11/03/12, 20:27:47
@Zero
Probably, I'm getting confused, I don't understand anyone's stance. I've stated my opinions as clearly as I can but I'm sure I'm not doing a good job. Oh well, it will certainly be interesting to see how this plays out over the next few years.


Posted by 
 on: 11/03/12, 20:27:42
@Guillaume

Well, whether it's the same people or not, I think Nintendo would have tried to get that same group by making another cheap handheld and coming out with the next big casual game like Nintendogs or Brain Training (which I think we agree they are capable of), but they saw other companies going after that same piece of the pie with smartphone gaming and audibled to something new. So I think smartphones played some role. I'm not inside the heads of Nintendo's executives so this is just speculation, but I think it would make sense.


Posted by 
 on: 11/03/12, 20:31:17
@Jargon

Who knows indeed. Nintendo has been experimenting with 3D for a long time, testing out ways to make the GameCube 3D and actually releasing a 3D machine with the Virtual Boy, but who's to say the 3DS was not just purely a reaction to Apple.

Now, I see your point about the 3DS not being cheap, but if Nintendo is capable of coming out with the next big casual game like Nintendogs or Brain Age, why aren't we seeing it on 3DS?


Posted by 
 on: 11/03/12, 20:36:29
@Guillaume

It seems plausible to me that Nintendo thinks that crowd is happy with playing Farmville and Angry Birds (or the Japanese equivalents, I believe they do exist) on the laptops, phones and tablets that they already own and wouldn't be willing to buy a dedicated handheld device for Nintendo's forays into that genre anymore, even if they are superior.

That's not to say they wouldn't come out with a game like that once they've built their user base, but it seems to me that they're trying to do this time by going with their bread and butter: large scale Mario games and the like now that they've lost faith in 3D as a selling point.


Posted by 
 on: 11/03/12, 20:42:13
I think Nintendo DID come out with the next big casual game. It was called Pushmo. And we're the only people who've played it.

Oh, and this is as good a place as any to tell Negative World that I just got a job offer from Apple. Paperwork isn't signed yet, but looks like I'm in. Nothing too special, just doing CPU support, but if Apple's the big enemy of Nintendo now, looks like I'm back to my SEGA-traitor ways.


Posted by 
 on: 11/03/12, 20:48:25
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