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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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The problem isn't 3DS units sold, it's that it's way easier and cheaper to get cheap mobile games out for smart phones and crap. Of course, it's also a lot harder for good ones to get noticed if they don't get quick cult status (though they usually do) so it's also riskier. As long as third-party devs don't drop handheld systems for phones, then we should be good.


Posted by 
 on: 11/01/12, 20:34:55
@Xbob42 Hmm, but those two things are interconnected. The whole "death of the handhelds" was supposed to include not just consumers turning mobile gaming, but publishers / developers as well. Apparently none of this has actually happened.

It may be possible that quality developers are going to make more money on dedicated handhelds than fighting with thousands of others for a chance to sell their game at $1, so the ease and costs of developing for mobile platforms might not be quite as big of a draw to those who have been able to successfully sell games on handhelds at a higher price. May be.


Posted by 
 on: 11/01/12, 20:41:59  - Edited by 
 on: 11/01/12, 20:42:50
Yeah, the 3DS is doing fine. No worries there.

The whole idea of phones taking over handhelds completely is...in the broadest sense of the term, a *possibility* but that's not going to happen in any immediate future.

I'm curious as to what the next 5 or 6 years are going to look like though, for portables.


Posted by 
 on: 11/01/12, 20:50:35
I agree with him... it is inevitable that Nintendo loses the casual players to the smartphone market. Those devices are particularly well suited for casual gameplay and practically everybody already has one in their pockets. The death of dedicated gaming machines, however? Not as long as there is no option for a more precise method of user input on phones... touchscreens cannot provide an enjoyable experience with most games, and you aren't going to see titles with massive budgets from the big developers on them. It is that simple.

I do see an end to consoles eventually, however... at least as we know them today.

I'm sure we have more negativity in the gaming press to look forward to with Wii U as it inevitably fails to live up to the sales of its predecessor.


Posted by 
 on: 11/01/12, 20:50:48
Zero said:
@Xbob42
It may be possible that quality developers are going to make more money on dedicated handhelds than fighting with thousands of others for a chance to sell their game at $1. May be.

Possibly. But the allure of fucking ripping off Scrabble and making hundreds of millions of dollars for it and then having the company that originally made Scrabble pay you millions more to be part of them and get a board game released based on your mobile phone game is pretty strong for many developers.

The thing is, it takes so little effort in comparison to make most phone games that devs actually just section off a few people from their teams to do it, rather than focusing the entire studio. Hilariously, this is also why most of their efforts fail. Quality games on phones sell really well, but just like any other game, you have to put the proper time and effort into it unless you hit an anomaly like ripping off Scrabble. Angry Birds was popular because it was a lengthy, polished, very-playable-on-touchscreens game in an era where most phone games were total garbage. That's why it got as popular as it did. It wasn't cause it was the greatest game ever -- it's cause someone actually made something worth playing.

That still applies. Also, I wouldn't worry about selling your game for $1 when there's about a hundred billion more people with the system. Literally every person I know and have met within the past 4 years or so including my younger siblings all have smartphones or ipod touches, that's a biiiiig audience. My little brother, on the other hand, is the only person I know with a dedicated handheld, aside from my friend from Alaska who has a PSP and, on my recommendation, a DS.

But until these developers put forth a good and proper effort, they will continue to release games that are bombs in terms of sales. Putting virtual d-pads on the screen that dry out and crack your skin after extended use, porting games that weren't designed for the system or that don't make sense, etc, so many developers do this. Others put forth super crappy games and just pray they sell. Others make shitty "mobile" versions of their big games such as Borderlands 2 and Need for Speed. These don't fit the mobile market at all, but it's all a lot of the bigger devs know how to make. They're their "safe" games, and they get confused when playing it safe on the mobile market is actually tantamount to financial suicide. Some give up, some keep releasing their watered down trash thinking, desperately, that maybe one of their lame ass games will sell.

As I said, very few devs are capable of properly understanding what makes a great mobile game (Such as Swords & Sworcery EP) and what makes a shitty one. (Such as Mega Man 2.)


Posted by 
 on: 11/01/12, 20:50:49
Xbob42 said:
But until these developers put forth a good and proper effort, they will continue to release games that are bombs in terms of sales. Putting virtual d-pads on the screen that dry out and crack your skin after extended use, porting games that weren't designed for the system or that don't make sense, etc, so many developers do this. Others put forth super crappy games and just pray they sell. Others make shitty "mobile" versions of their big games such as Borderlands 2 and Need for Speed. These don't fit the mobile market at all, but it's all a lot of the bigger devs know how to make. They're their "safe" games, and they get confused when playing it safe on the mobile market is actually tantamount to financial suicide. Some give up, some keep releasing their watered down trash thinking, desperately, that maybe one of their lame ass games will sell.

As I said, very few devs are capable of properly understanding what makes a great mobile game (Such as Swords & Sworcery EP) and what makes a shitty one. (Such as Mega Man 2.)

Oh man..... As someone who used to test these things for a living, I wholeheartedly agree. The effort put into the mobile version sof a lot of those games just screams "a team lower than the B-team".

Meanwhile the simplest-but-most-polished games go on to be the million sellers.

Nintendo has little to worry about until that changes, and honestly I don't think it ever will; most of the big name devs approach the mobile market as a red-headed step-child at best.


Posted by 
 on: 11/02/12, 00:37:44  - Edited by 
 on: 11/02/12, 00:38:53
I laughed when people said smartphone gaming would eat Nintendo's lunch. Then I got a little frustrated when those people insisted it was true. Now I'm just laughing again.

EDIT: Also, remember when surely THIS time Sony's portable will blow Nintendo's "toy" out of the water? aahhhh predictions are funny.


Posted by 
 on: 11/02/12, 03:00:09  - Edited by 
 on: 11/02/12, 03:01:31
@Zero

This seems to be making the exact point that I argued when we had a discussion about smartphones' impact on Nintendo handhelds: that the market for "core games", like New Super Mario Bros., Mario Kart, etc. would be fine, and even grow as more people grow up with video games, but that the market for casual games, like Nintendogs, Brain Age, etc. would be eaten into by smartphones.

I seem to remember you pushing back against me and saying that those games would sell basically just as well on 3DS.


Posted by 
 on: 11/02/12, 04:14:28  - Edited by 
 on: 11/02/12, 04:20:18
I'm just still not convinced that these markets replace each other. People don't buy phones for great gaming experiences. They like to play games, but how many people are actually buying phones based on which ones play the best games? For the most part, so many of these phones are going to play the same games. Rather, I think what smartphones have done is just given people who already have phones something to do with them. I don't think all of these mobile game sales are really people buying iOS games instead of Nintendo games. I think likely, these people just didn't really buy games to begin with.

I think the idea that kids are going to flock to iOS games way more than 3DS games is kind of silly, especially since the numbers just haven't shown that. Mobile game sales are up, certainly, but are they really at the expense of other traditional handheld games?


Posted by 
 on: 11/02/12, 04:37:46
Not to sound cliche, but I sometimes wish my wallet would get the memo that dedicated handheld gaming is dead. :/


Posted by 
 on: 11/02/12, 04:54:38
For what it's worth, I love me some mobile and handheld gaming alike. I hope that the phone game market continues to grow and develop even better games and eventually we get some sort of tactile feedback like a little thumbnub you could hit a button to flip out or something. I think it could be done very slickly. (I don't think phones need more than a single button or two, though. Most stuff should be able to be done with a touch-screen, movement is generally not one of them because your thumb blocks where you're trying to go.)

I've got NO problems with more ways to get awesome game experiences.


Posted by 
 on: 11/02/12, 04:57:50
Good for them. I still wish a built in second slide pad was available but I've moved on since then...


Posted by 
 on: 11/02/12, 05:03:17
The hardware does seem to be doing well. But there are a few caveats here:

- Each hardware unit sold is not making the same profit for Nintendo that the DS did. In fact they might be losing money on each. This is important because it means that the model Nintendo followed with the DS is no longer viable, they have had to pack in new expensive tech (3D screen) in order to compete and differentiate themselves.
- When the number of gamers is expanding, is matching the DS's sales a good or a bad thing? Depends how you frame it.
- With Nintendo focused on making money on software rather than hardware, will software sales be strong enough to bridge the gap?

Nintendo is on the right path with putting retail titles on the eShop, but software pricing is a big problem. In many territories, you can buy new physical games for far cheaper than on the eShop. This needs to be addressed.


Posted by 
 on: 11/02/12, 05:06:46  - Edited by 
 on: 11/02/12, 05:09:49
@Jargon

Isn't it amazing how the definition of a "core" game changes with the circumstances? Seems like any game with "Mario" in the title doesn't count as "core" when media outlets are evaluating software line-ups on Nintendo platforms. =P

@PogueSquadron

Spot on.


Posted by 
 on: 11/02/12, 05:22:48
@NinSage Uh-oh. Now we're getting some cross-thread action! I don't typically talk about Giant Bomb much, but Jeff Gerstmann just said on one of his "Jar Time With Jeff" videos something in reply to an email which was asking about "core games" or something, I forget the email itself but his response was basically "What the hell do you mean Mario's not a core game? Nintendo's main franchises always have been and continue to be "core" games. They define core gaming."

Not an exact quote, but pretty much what he said. I had to essentially say the same thing over in this thread on D1P.


Posted by 
 on: 11/02/12, 05:31:40
I downloaded a new iOS game for the first time in a looong time last night: Punch Quest. It's free, you pay for upgrade or whatever.

It's super highly rated critically. It has been downloaded 600,000 times. It's also just another shitty infinite runner game that brings nothing to the table but quirky humor and graphics, i.e. exactly the same thing all these games bring.

I actually chose an iPhone originally because of all the great games I kept hearing about. I feel misled. And I understand you don't judge a library on its worst games but on its best, but the praise I hear are for games that turn out in the end to be crap. Tiny Tower. Jetpack Joyride. The hell. It's as if all critical thinking was forgotten when gaming journalists gush about these timesinks that have little to no design to them, just a quirky theme, quirky music and quirky graphics.

It's a depressing scene.


Posted by 
 on: 11/02/12, 05:32:14
@Jargon No, you said the market for those games won't be big, and I said they will be big enough, and then you got mad because I was being ambiguous, and I said no I'm not, I just don't think cellphones will destroy Nintendo's casual market. I certainly never said sales would be basically the same, and you knew that I didn't say that, hence the comment about ambiguity (which I disagreed with, but whatever the case, you can't now claim that I made some concrete statement that they would be the same when back then you were angered by my supposedly ambiguous statement that absolutely didn't make that claim.)

Keep in mind that we were having this discussion well after Nintendogs + cats had released, so we already had a sense of what that sold like. The context was... what will happen in the future? And I think that is still fairly unknown, because not many other casual games have even released. Brain Age released in Japan but is releasing here this Christmas, so we'll see how that does. Keep in mind too that at that point the 3DS itself was still struggling, so sales overall weren't that hot. We have yet to see a casual title releasing on the 3DS in the midst of good 3DS sales... but we will soon enough.

Still, I don't think that cellphones have destroyed Nintendo's casual market, but I don't think releasing the same games over and over is ever the answer. I think the market for casual games on 3DS is and will continue to be big, but I think it needs something new. For instance, how many people here bought the original Nintendogs versus the 3DS one? We're not running to cellphones to play these games, we just... already played Nintendogs and felt no need to buy it again. (I'm using "we" loosely, I didn't buy either one, but I know the first one sold much better with "core" Nintendo fans too, because it was fresh and new.)

Nintendo needs to find the new big casual thing.

With that said, apparently Nintendogs + cats is one of the best selling 3DS games. It doesn't have a lot of competition, this is true, but it didn't tank or anything either. Sold a few million, and is still selling a year and a half later. When all is said and done it will probably sell 5 million or so throughout the life of the 3DS, and I'll bet there will be other "casual" games that sell even more.


Posted by 
 on: 11/02/12, 05:41:48  - Edited by 
 on: 11/02/12, 05:49:23
@Xbob42

Your [Jeff Gerstmann] gains 1,000 Respect Points.
[Jeff Gerstmann] has leveled up!!

... now, where was all that intelligence during the many, many, many interviews I've seen with him? /rhetoricalquestion

Seriously though, he's dead on with that quote. Nintendo games are pretty much the definition of the core gaming experience! No matter what your criteria are. Which is why modern "hardcore" gaming is pretty much another beast entirely. A violent, angry, scantily clad, image-conscious beast.

@Gui

Yyyyyyup! Well said.


Posted by 
 on: 11/02/12, 05:46:53  - Edited by 
 on: 11/02/12, 05:49:59
@NinSage He's an often extremely sarcastic and hard-to-read person. Sometimes he'll get a kick out of mocking something outright. (He despises Kinect with a burning passion, but will often play the dance games on Quick Looks because it looks so ridiculous. The recent Intel one was fucking hysterical.)

I mean, he's the guy that made The Nintendownload X-Press, where he lists off bad downloadable games for Wiiware and DSiware. The theme was that the rest of the staff was supposed to "hate Nintendo's downloadable shops" where he "loved them," so he actually made his own completely facetious solo podcast for a few months of him feigning undying support for weird ass downloadable titles most of us glance over in favor of the good stuff. (He'd only mention the good downloadable games on the real podcast)

He's a weird, weird dude, but I also find him totally hilarious. And whatever biases he has, at leas the doesn't hide 'em. I've never known him to hate Nintendo at ALL, though -- he just tends to disagree with things that they do here and there. Just like he hates the Kinect and thinks the Move was a lame ripoff.

I swear I don't normally talk about Giant Bomb this much, but recent events make not talking about it nearly impossible for me! If nothing else, I truly feel that Giant Bomb is at least honest about what they do, even if they rub some folks the wrong way.


Posted by 
 on: 11/02/12, 05:58:25
Personally there are a few things that mobiles will always do better than handhelds, and there are things handhelds do better than mobiles.

All I care about is a Kindle app on 3DS.


Posted by 
 on: 11/02/12, 13:50:09
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