Nintendo has been hammered pretty hard lately - the WiiU hasn’t sold anywhere near as well as they hoped, leading company president Satoru Iwata to adjust Nintendo’s sales goals. Nintendo took a big hit last year on the home console, especially if you compare sales to its predecessor: the original Wii.
But Nintendo did sell another 13 million 3DSes. Let’s ignore that for now though.
Iwata has been under pressure to either step down or do something drastic to right the ship. Mobile phone gaming is pretty big these days, so unsurprisingly, analysts have suggested that Nintendo should make games for iOS and Android.
Iwata isn’t keen on the idea. “The spread of smart devices does not spell the end of game consoles...It doesn’t mean that we should put Mario on smartphones,” he said.
Following that, there are plenty of stories comparing Nintendo’s troubles to Sega following the flop of the Dreamcast. Stocks dropped pretty hard after Iwata announced that Mario won’t be on iPhones.
Let’s put this into perspective.The 3DS is the core of Nintendo right now- it’s what keeps them going. Yet the businessmen want Nintendo to focus its attention on a market that’s enamored with Candy Crush?
That’s not how this works. The 3DS exists only to play games. It’s not a smartphone with games tacked on.
Pokemon, Zelda, Fire Emblem, Phoenix Wright, Mario - these games are designed for one system and they’re complete packages that you buy upfront and play at your discretion. What’s being suggested here? Should Nintendo make a regular game (lest we forget, they’ve never made an iOS/Android game) and stick it on the App Store? A 3DS game is usually around a $40 purchase - who’s going to buy a $40 iOS game?
No one. Free to play is what drives revenue on the App Store - do you really think you’d want a free to play Mario game? With what, one level? Or maybe you couldn’t use items unless you paid a 99 cent microtransaction, and you could only play for a few minutes before Mario would need a rest. Or you could pay a dollar to recharge his energy instantly!
If you want to mess around with gimmicky games on your phone, that’s one thing. But Nintendo’s entire business model relies on the public respect of their IPs. The 3DS is working quite well for those who want to play in-depth video games on a mobile platform. Why should Nintendo bother?
The criticism to that: maybe you don’t want to carry around another device all the time. I get that. I mean, my pants always have pockets because they’re pants, but maybe yours don’t. Or you carry a pocketbook and don’t want another device taking up space. Fair enough.
But then you’re probably playing simple flash games that were designed for touch screens. Like Candy Crush..
“But you can do hardcore games on iPhones now,” you say. “Apple has gaming peripherals!” Sure. For an extra hundred dollars, plus you’d have to carry the add-on with you.
Tell me, how is that more convenient than a 3DS? What this market speculation suggests is that Nintendo should ignore its biggest moneymaker in a market it dominates. Why?
To pursue another market it knows nothing about. Analysts and investors believe that the only gaming people do away from their homes is on their phones - but 43 million 3DSes prove them wrong..
Regardless of what you think of Nintendo, you can’t deny that their software drives their hardware sales. If you want Zelda and Pokemon games, you buy Nintendo consoles. Investors are criticising Iwata’s decision right now, but what they fail to realize is that while Nintendo does need to shake things up (Iwata admitted that much, at least), developing mobile games to cash in on the current market boom would be a mistake.
Tech reporter and on-air personality. Ambitious, but not rubbish. CUNY J-School alum and fan of all things that go vroom.