Close
Report Comment to a Moderator Our Moderators review all comments for abusive and offensive language, and ensure comments are from Verified Users only.
Please report a comment only if you feel it requires our urgent attention.
I understand, report it. Cancel

The End of Handheld?

Mon 01 Aug 2011 1:00pm GMT / 9:00am EDT / 6:00am PDT
Hardware

The failure of 3DS isn't just down to Nintendo's failures - it's symptomatic of a much wider shift in the market

Sony Computer Entertainment

Sony Computer Entertainment is a Japanese videogame company specialising in a variety of areas in the...

playstation.com

There have been so many false, unfounded predictions of a huge Nintendo failure over the past few years - mostly involving massively biased fanboy commentators confidently anticipating the death of the Wii - that when the failure actually came, the event was so tempered with a sense of deja vu that it was hard to tell whether it actually felt surprising or not.

Yet there's absolutely no question that what has happened to the 3DS is, indeed, a huge failure for Nintendo. I'm being careful to say "for Nintendo" here, because it's important to retain some perspective; the 3DS has shipped close to 4.5 million units worldwide, which would be considered pretty good by many consumer device companies.

The 3DS is faring a hell of a sight better than, for example, tablet devices based on Android, or phones using Windows Phone 7 - and as others have been swift to point out, the figures aren't actually that far away from those achieved by the original Nintendo DS after its launch.

But that doesn't change the fact that, for Nintendo, this is a failure. Android on tablets and Windows Phone 7 are pitched against hugely dominant incumbents in their respective markets, where 3DS is the successor to a hugely dominant incumbent. Similar logic applies to comparisons with the original DS; that was Nintendo's first truly successful console in almost a decade, and when it arrived few people understood the appeal of the dual screen, touch-sensitive layout. 3DS, as its successor, should have enjoyed much more immediate success.

Nintendo, to its credit, isn't beating around the bush - it accepts the failure and has indicated a willingness to act aggressively to turn the situation around. Moves in that regard range from the symbolic (Satoru Iwata's 50% pay cut) to the practical (the massive price drop for the system and the likelihood of a marketing relaunch), and the company is also keen to be seen as learning from past mistakes - the failure to cut the price of the GameCube after disappointing early sales, in particular, was mentioned at the Tokyo press conference on Friday.

The reasons for the 3DS' disappointing performance don't really need a lot of explanation - anyone following the industry knows what the problems have been with the console. The price was much too high, comparable with a PlayStation 3 and far above the cost of the existing DS or an iPod Touch. Nintendo seems to have hoped that the 3DS would appeal to a core audience initially, with the DS staying on shelves for the mainstream audience. The low sales figures suggest that the company's core audience has also stayed away.

That might be down to the second major factor - the lack of software, or at least, the perceived lack of software. 3DS owners and publishers working on the console might raise their eyebrows when the platform is accused of lacking games - in my own view, at least, it's got one of the strongest early line-ups I've ever seen on a console - but the meme is more important than the reality. Again, Nintendo's abandonment by core fans doesn't help - and while titles like Starfox and Ocarina of Time are excellent, the console could have done with original games rather than remakes at this point in its lifespan.

Another area where perception is more important than reality is marketing, and this has been a complete and miserable failure for Nintendo on almost every count. The public simply isn't aware of the strengths of the 3DS, thanks to a marketing campaign which has tried to strongly emphasise the ties to the DS brand while also talking up the 3D capabilities of the system. As a consequence, many consumers are still under the impression that the 3DS is simply a DS with a 3D screen - these people aren't stupid or uninformed, they believe this because that's exactly what Nintendo has been telling them.

It doesn't help, of course, that 3D is presently in the doghouse as far as most consumers are concerned, thanks to movie studios completely wrecking any enthusiasm for the burgeoning technology with a slew of badly adapted, low-quality 3D releases - the situation is so dire that most ordinary cinema-goers I know will go to a more inconvenient showtime just to see the 2D version of a new film. Thus, the 3DS ends up with its only heavily promoted USP being a technology that consumers don't want, and which many actively resent.

In theory, all of those things could be fixed. You can cut the price - Nintendo already has, making the 3DS into probably the first console it has ever made on which it's taking a loss on hardware sales. You can bolster your software line-up, and Nintendo's already on the way to that. Even if you can't change the ill-conceived name, you can at least formulate a marketing campaign that promotes the console's other positives and downplays the 3D factor a little.

What you can't do, however, is make smartphones and tablets go away. I think the factors outlined above are probably the core reason for the failure of the 3DS to achieve the strong launch Nintendo had hoped for, but in the medium to long term, it's smartphones and tablets that will have the largest impact. Multifunction devices may not play games quite as well as dedicated devices (yet), but they play them well enough for most consumers - and have led many consumers to see handheld games as something that should be free or very inexpensive, casting huge doubt on the market for £30 software.

Given those factors, two major questions arise from Nintendo's humiliating about-face on the 3DS' price. Firstly, has the company done enough to save the 3DS?

The answer, I think, is probably "yes - for now". At a much lower price point and with the software catalogue growing rapidly, with a better marketing campaign behind it and hopefully with the leeway for some good software bundles as we approach key sales periods this winter, I believe that the 3DS should have pretty decent sales in the vital fourth calendar quarter.

For most consumers, hardware purchases follow a simple equation - you balance up the number of games in which the consumer is interested on one side, and weigh that against the price on the other side. The fall in price makes it much easier for consumers to justify the purchase as the software library grows - and while for some consumers the rapid price cut will diminish confidence in the device, it should encourage others to come off the fence and buy into the console.

In the longer term, however, I believe that it's simply impossible for the 3DS to replicate the success of the DS. The audience that Nintendo won for itself with the DS hasn't stopped gaming, but they've discovered - as many other gamers have - that there's a lot of high quality entertainment to be had for much lower prices. Iwata may rail against the dangers - as he perceives them - of low-cost software on iOS style platforms, but the reality is that billions of dollars are being spent on iOS Apps, many of them games, and that clever companies are finding ways to fund even the development of pretty large-scale, high quality projects using new business models provided by smartphone platforms.

Which leads us to the second question - what does the difficulty faced by the 3DS mean for the wider console market, particularly the handheld market? Where does this leave PlayStation Vita?

Some commentators have opined that Vita was actually a seriously negative factor for the 3DS, and I think there's some truth to that - the fact that Sony was going to launch a technologically superior handheld, without the divisive, unpopular 3D tech, at the same price point as the 3DS, definitely dampened sales. However, it's easy to put too much weight on that idea - the reality is that most consumers who chose not to buy a 3DS did so not because of Vita on the horizon, but rather because of being perfectly happy with something that already exists, like an iPod Touch or a DSi.

If anything, I think Sony will be seriously worried by the early failures of the 3DS. For a start, it puts them in the uncomfortable position of launching a much more expensive product than their rival - and as has been proven time and time again in recent years, for most consumers, the argument that it's more powerful so it's worth the money just doesn't wash, especially with a handheld platform. It also creates a market expectation of failure for dedicated handheld devices, so Vita's launch will probably be dampened by consumers holding off a purchase in case it, too, ends up being heavily discounted a few months later.

More importantly, though, the blow Nintendo has taken with the 3DS is an illustration of the real strength and influence of iOS devices in the gaming space. That traditional handhelds would suffer from the rise of iOS, not just due to the incredible sales of Apple's devices but also due to the resulting sea-changes in business models and consumer expectations, has been long theorised. Now we have proof, and it's solid enough proof to have wiped a fifth off Nintendo's formerly soaring stock value.

Sony, at least, understands the outline of this problem, even if I'm not convinced that it's grasped the full scale of it just yet. The PlayStation Suite framework for Android is designed to give the company a leg-up in the mobile gaming space, and it's shown vastly more commitment to delivering low-cost, high-quality content on PSN than Nintendo has on services like the 3DS eShop or its predecessors, which are much more focused on squeezing value out of retro titles than on providing a marketplace for original content.

Yet the reality still remains the same - PlayStation Vita is going to launch at the same price point which sank the 3DS, and even if some of the factors around it look more positive (not least that the early adopter market still likes Sony, but regards Nintendo as having blotted its copybook badly in the past generation), it's still going to be competing with iOS devices sporting a huge game catalogue at vastly lower prices. That's a tough nut to crack, and I'm not sure Sony has really worked out how to crack it.

The long-term diagnosis is tricky. It's easy to look at home consoles and core gaming on PC and confidently predict that it's here for the long-haul; even if the pace of the graphics arms race slows down (as it must), the simple reality of tens of millions of core consumers will ensure that the market remains fairly healthy regardless of how popular casual and social gaming gets.

Handhelds are a trickier proposition. The reality is that they're not quite so hardcore a market - some core titles break through, such as the extraordinary Monster Hunter (which, I recently discovered, actually commonly features in personal ads on dating sites in Japan, such is its ubiquity), but where few Xbox or PS3 owners are going to be satisfied with a complete move to an iPad or a bunch of Facebook games and free-to-play MMOs, a pretty large proportion of DS and PSP owners would probably be perfectly happy playing on iPhones or Droids.

That transition is no longer hypothetical - the money being pumped through the iOS revenue system, contrasted with the failure of the 3DS to ring the tills at retail, is proof positive that it's already happening on a large scale. The only question is how big this factor is going to be. 3DS and PS Vita will, quite simply, never scale the heights of the previous generation of handhelds - but if Nintendo and Sony are fast, and clever, and more than a bit lucky, there's a good chance that they can carve out a viable, if smaller, market.

One thing is certain - dedicated handheld gaming devices are now in rapid decline, and barring an extraordinary technological advance, they're not going to come back. Birthed with the Game & Watch, this sector is going to end with the 3DS and Vita. All that remains to be seen is whether it ends with a whimper, or a bang.

21 Comments

Nicholas Lovell Founder, Gamesbrief

211 254 1.2
Strong words, Rob. I have to agree with you. The challenge that dedicated consoles face is NOT [added not. whoops]that there won't be *any* audience for them - plenty of vocal gamers argue that they will always want the dedicated machine with its better input devices and graphics processing.

It's that there won't be *enough* audience to justify the manufacturing of the consoles, the fixed costs of dedicated factories, the development costs for third party publishers and so on?

How many people need to leave? I don't know. But if 30-50% of the historic handheld gaming market chooses iPads, iPhones and Androids over handhelds, it will be very tough to make money from a dedicated machine.

So, like you, I think it's the end of an era.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nicholas Lovell on 2nd August 2011 12:13pm

Posted:3 years ago

#1

Bjorn Larsson CEO & Executive Producer, Legendo Entertainment

11 4 0.4
It will be hard for any platform maker without "OS DNA" to compete in the future as we move towards the cloud, both SONY and Nintendo lack the necessary infrastructure, knowledge and "back-end servers" to offer a compelling and convenient user-experience, which is what really drives iOS (and to some extent also Android, probably even moreso in the future).

Posted:3 years ago

#2

Gary Lucero QA Analyst, Advanced

28 7 0.3
As someone who plays most of my games on the Xbox 360, and who has owned all of Sony and Nintendo's handhelds (except for the 3DS, that is), I have to say I agree completely and would personally never consider buying a 3DS or a Vita. Why? Because my iPod touch is good enough.

I know people who spend considerable time playing core games on handhelds like the 3DS; for them it's the platform of choice. They will buy the Vita, spend $30 - $50 on new games, and get their money's worth out of the system. But for me, someone who might play a lot of an iOS game like Game Dev Story or Tactical Soldier: Undead Rising, I prefer the platform because games are inexpensive and there is such a large variety of them.

I can spend 99 cents on a game, try it, and if I don't like it, delete it and never play it again. And even if I spend $5 that doesn't hurt anywhere near as much as games on dedicated gaming handhelds. But besides the games, my iPod touch can do so much more. I use it for far more than gaming, and that makes it a wise investment.

Posted:3 years ago

#3

Laura Greenfield Studying Biomedical Science, Middlesex University

12 0 0.0
This makes me sad. Nintendo have always had the best handhelds, but the 3DS is flopping so much. I love my 3DS, and I can see how it touches all ages and genders. I believe if it had better press, then it wouldn't be doing so bad. A perfect example is that my 10 year old cousin really wants one for her birthday but my Aunty's responce is always 'I cannot get it you darling because I'm scared it will hurt your eye sight'.
I can tell her and tell her that it doesn't, that I do not get head aches or issues with my eyes and I can stay on it for over 5hours without "resting" or "taking a break" like nintendo asks me to. Once a hint of bad news gets to the parents, they do not buy it for the children, and after all, its the biggest consumers to the market.

Posted:3 years ago

#4

Sergey Galyonkin Marketing Director, EMEA, Nival Network

24 0 0.0
I see Vita more like a console not for gaming on a go, but as a console that you can take with you. And I will buy PS Vita for my kids.

3DS problem is not price, misinformation or smartphones - it's Nintendo. It is almost half a year on a market and still has no games! Ocarina of Time is like 12 years old now, c'mon!

Posted:3 years ago

#5

Thomas Luecking

69 13 0.2
In my opinion, there will always be dedicated gaming handhelds. Let alone for the physical buttons. The question for me is, who is going to make them and who is providing the software. As Bjorn said, a solid backend infrastructure will be key in the future. The Xperia Play is a concept which could be the standard for dedicated gaming handhelds in the future. Different hardware manufacturers would offer their gaming devices running with a common OS like Android and Nintendo IPs would be available through an integrated Nintendo eShop for example. Maybe a little far fetched today but could be reality in 5-10 years...

Posted:3 years ago

#6

Josef Brett Animator

296 0 0.0
The 3DS has only been on sale for a few months. I'd hardly call it a failure just yet. Don't count Ninty out on this one.

I do believe that this and Vita will probably be the last dedicated handheld systems, which is a bit of a shame.

Posted:3 years ago

#7
you know i really cant take an article seriously when it starts off by listing obvious real reasons for lack of sales then decides to through it all away just to proclaim handhelds dead whilst ignoring the very points they made .

the main problem i have with the whole handhelds are dead argument is that up until now i have not seen any dta that proves a sale on smart phones is one taken from handhelds so far i have only seen graphs and guestimates mostly made by drawing conclusions with data that works both ways.

honestly i belive we may not have dedicated hande helds one day but as of yet there hasnt been any real evidence to suggect that there dead or in massive decline if any thing i see the market going back to game boy advance numbers at worse.

Posted:3 years ago

#8
you know i really cant take an article seriously when it starts off by listing obvious real reasons for lack of sales then decides to through it all away just to proclaim handhelds dead whilst ignoring the very points they made .

the main problem i have with the whole handhelds are dead argument is that up until now i have not seen any dta that proves a sale on smart phones is one taken from handhelds so far i have only seen graphs and guestimates mostly made by drawing conclusions with data that works both ways.

honestly i belive we may not have dedicated hande helds one day but as of yet there hasnt been any real evidence to suggect that there dead or in massive decline if any thing i see the market going back to game boy advance numbers at worse.

Posted:3 years ago

#9

James Knight QA Manager/Game Design

20 1 0.1
Perhaps they didn't make *enough* of the 3d. They kept saying 'you don't need to play your games in 3d' ...right, so there's no unique feature, the game wasn't designed with 3d play in mind. It's just a visual gimmick in that case. And if there's not much to distinguish it from a DS why buy it.

I always found the casing a bit plastic toy like for my liking. I've yet to get my hands on a vita yet but they always have the black polish. I like the vita but not the company so much were as I like nintendo but they don't make games I like.

Down the line if we get this online cloud streaming to handhelds it could take off again. Frankly personally I want AR mixed games in glasses format which properly mixes reality and simulation.

Posted:3 years ago

#10

Marcelo Martins President, Clefbits

6 0 0.0
Rob, congratulations for this great article.

I don't think this is the end of handheld consoles. There are some people interested in rich and deep gaming experience which is not very common on .99 games. I do believe they must target their games to hardcore audiences to justify the $30-40 price tag.

I personally didn't buy a 3DS simply because the games currently available don't appeal to me. I love Zelda, but I donít like to replay old games. I will consider buying a 3Ds when they release Super Mario 3DS and a new version of Zelda.

Posted:3 years ago

#11

John Blackburne Programmers

41 0 0.0
If I were Sony now I'd be looking at whether it's even worth launching the Vita, if it has no hope of selling enough so it becomes profitable. But certainly it looks like this will be the last portables from the companies.

The question is what's next for Sony and Nintendo in portables, after the 3DS and Vita? Sony have the Xperia Arc which is a pretty good phone, uniquely suited to playing games. I can see them evolving that platform so there are multiple models and price points, much like their other Xperia phones, making it a strong brand that stands out among Android smartphones.

Nintendo have no such option now, but they could do something similar with the DS. Or as they don't make phones they could license the tech to others to make phones able to play DS games. They could even become a pure software company much like Sega, except with much stronger IP which they could deploy on iOS and elsewhere, especially if the Wii U also disappoints.

Posted:3 years ago

#12

Rick Cody PBnGames-Board Member

144 14 0.1
I'm an avid gamer with a reasonable budget. I've never once considered a 3DS or PS Vita. I have an iTouch 2G which I'm going to upgrade to an iPhone or iTouch 5G (this September?). There are deep enough experiences to be had on iOS and Android devices. My good friend, a very hardcore gamer, is in the process of converting lately. He got an iPhone 4.
Consoles though... Those are trickier. They've got another generation left if they play it smart.
"Good enough" is the important thing here. The gaming experiences on iOS are good enough that I don't even care a little bit about dedicated handheld gaming devices. I want simplicity.

Posted:3 years ago

#13

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,196 1,176 0.5
Wait... isn't there a difference between SHIPPED and SOLD units? What are the ACTUAL numbers of SOLD 3DS systems (not including giveaways from contests and such which there seem to be quite a lot of).

As for those who want "simplicity" well, there goes the neighborhood, I say... As I keep asking (and to date, no one has a good enough answer), what do all these people do for their gaming fix when there's some sort of nonsense going on online and that precious content can't be accessed or updated. Sure, you're used to servie outages from an update or two, but as the PSN and Amazon hacks showed, once you get that sort of major ding happening, there's nothing one can do except sign up for the next big lawsuit that's going to be tossed out of court for any number of reasons...

Meh, whatever - Apple bends people over a pipe every year with a "new" model device and they're HAPPY about paying more for it (and you STILL can't change the damn battery on your own?), so I guess those sheep won't realize it until it far beyond too late... which it is...

Posted:3 years ago

#14

Rob Stevens Managing Director, Strangelands Ltd.

3 0 0.0
I think the point made by Laura is certainly one missing from the article - there are a lot of negative reports about the glasses free 3D being bad for children's eyes.

In my opinion the ideal market for the 3DS is in the 8-12 year old age range. Phones are great, but I don't want to fork out for an iPhone for a 10 year old because they are just as expensive (either in hardware or contract terms) and certainly more fragile than a 3DS.

I'm sure a lot of kids are asking for their 3DS' (like Laura's cousin) but not getting them due to these health scares. I've heard all these reports from many different people, both gamers and non-gamers, so they are wide spread enough to affect sales.

Otherwise I'm in total agreement with Rob; I blame Nintendo's incredibly weak marketing and poor branding, the lack of strong, original games and the price for the, so far, disappointing results. The bizarre choice of launch date didn't do them any favors either, I'd say.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Rob Stevens on 2nd August 2011 10:33am

Posted:3 years ago

#15

John Ozimek Director, Chomp Ltd

6 0 0.0
What we may see is a shift in the trajectory of the industry over 3D in general based on the lack of stellar success (I won't say failure) of the 3DS. Several smartphone vendors have already shown 3D and holographic screen technology, and it is expected that 3D smartphones will ship to Western markets next year. However, it does seem that right now, developers would rather fight for market share at 59p on the Apple store than develop a game that retails for a dedicated handheld at £35 - that in itself, shows the shift underway in the industry. If the 3DS is seen as a success as a handheld but a failure as an introduction to 3D, then that shift to iOS and other phone platforms may become more pronounced. Recent stats on purchase of 3D televisions has also shown a decline in interest from consumers.

There will always be an audience for innovative, dedicated devices and games platforms. But the continued production of those depends on there being enough to cover the huge investment any new tech launch requires - and I do wonder how long those sums will continue to make sense. But I think there's more threat to Sony here than to Nintendo.

People complain about the control exerted by Apple, but Nintendo over time has been far worse; just read up on the history of the company, and the exorbitant charges for the production of game cartridges back in the SNES days. Nintendo's control is absolute; so as long as it declines to offer its games on any platform but its own, it will still have a viable market for high-margin products, as it's the only way to play Nintendo games.

For Sony, it's diverged nature means that it is effectively competing with itself. Although the Playstation Xperia phone plays PS games, it's not linked at all with SCEE and the core games unit. Which is a shame, as a truly converged strategy linking console, handheld and smartphone does seem the logical way forward. Time will show whether Sony's execution will match its vision.

And I agree with a few of the comments above - Nintendo chose not to launch the 3DS with any major new titles or IP. What sold the DS to the mass-market wasn't Zelda or MarioKart - it was Nintendogs and Brain Training - showcasing the tech and delivering a truly mass-market experience. I'm amazed that this has been missed on the 3DS so badly.

Posted:3 years ago

#16
Great comments here. I'd like to add that for a 250$ handheld, the buildquality is sub-par. And the battery life is ridiculous.
That's a markteing flaw, not a technological flaw btw. The battery is of low capacity, apparently to reduce cost. The whole thing just looks like it was designed for a high profit margin, not functionality.

Seems to me that the market hasn't changed that much from the DS times. I find it hard to believe parents would buy their kids cellphones in stead of a cheap and sturdy handheld. Price is obviously a barrier in that market.
The core market might be shrinking slightly, but there will be an audience for high quality games. The DS has the disadvantage that it seems horribly underpowered compared to the vita, and the library can't make up for that like it did for the DS.

The wii U seems like an equally big mess of bulletpoints. The wii was genius, but succes leads to resting on your laurels apparently.

Posted:3 years ago

#17

Daniel Hughes Studying PhD Literary Modernism, Bangor University

436 497 1.1
"What you can't do, however, is make smartphones and tablets go away. I think the factors outlined above are probably the core reason for the failure of the 3DS to achieve the strong launch Nintendo had hoped for, but in the medium to long term, it's smartphones and tablets that will have the largest impact."

Where is the proof for this, still? Normally I love your articles and insight, Rob, but I can't help but think this is flawed. We're seeing correlation, but no causation as of yet. You rightly underline that almost every factor hampering 3DS is a failing of Nintendo, and not a result of smartphone and tablet competition, yet you then hold these low 3DS sales as an example of the effect of smartphone gaming on dedicated handheld gaming. That's very flawed reasoning. That kind of data doesn't exist yet, we're seeing the correlation of growing smartphone gaming with declining returns of handheld gaming, but there are other factors to consider--namely the fact the older handhelds have peaked in every market, as is the normal cycle for console based systems. A lull coincides with the end of one system, and the beginning of another. We'll only really see what kind of road 3DS has when we get passed this crucial Christmas season.

You also missed out other key failings that have contributed to 3DS's slow start--the software line up isn't just sparse, it's also very low key and poorly thought out. They launched small Nintendo IP (Steel Diver and Pilotwings) rather than a blockbuster like Zelda from the off--Nintendogs was also a very poor choice of launch title. It isn't a blockbuster title--it's an evergreen title that sells best when bundled and heavily advertised, and neither of those things has happened. The highest profile and best quality title that has come out from third parties is a game available in several other editions on several other platforms--Street Fighter IV. Not the kind of exclusive content that sells systems!! The online and connectivity features of 3DS weren't even available from day one. Add to that, the 3DS went on sale outside of the highly profitable end of year season. When you take that into account comparing sales with the original DS--which had a Mario port at launch and launched in November in Japan and the US--the fact the 3DS is managing to keep pace despite the poorly timed, badly supported, overpriced and terribly marketed launch is quite decent. Not impressive, but certainly not the end of the world.

I fail to see why this slow start is the end of the handheld as we know it. One thing I have always been critical of is the short-term view so many in the industry take, and sadly, I find this article falls in with that. You are judging the 3DS on its first six months of life, during which it has been mismanaged enormously, and then suggesting that this proves that handhelds cannot survive much longer in the current portable market. Where is the direct evidence of that? For Christ's sake, they launched it in the West the same month they launched a massive title (Pokemon) for their older, cheaper handheld!! That's something else you failed to take into account--competition from existing, traditional handhelds, both of which present a much better value proposition right now.

3DS slow start lies entirely in Nintendo's hands, and is entirely their fault, and they have accepted that responsibility and are acting quickly to rectify the situation. If anything, I am reassured by this. They have stated that this isn't good enough, and that 3DS needs more weight behind it--and that's coming in the shape of a 3 year plan to improve online offerings, two big Mario titles and an enormous and much needed global price cut. Nintendo have responded quickly and effectively to the situation, and a very aggressive defensive action. If 3DS doesn't take off at the end of the year, and the Mario titles that will push sales (Mario Land is at least 5 million plus, and the last two iterations of Mario Kart have sold over 20 million each) flounder, then, and only then, should we be suggesting that the era of the traditional handheld is coming to an end. And honestly, is there any evidence Mario is going away?

Posted:3 years ago

#18

John Blackburne Programmers

41 0 0.0
Nintendo sold 20 million DS in 2010. Apple sold 20 million iPhones last quarter. And DS sales are decreasing while iPhone sales are increasing. Add in other iOS devices and 37 million were sold in April, May and June. There's the data. I doubt you'll see causation, no more than you see it in home consoles. But one platform outselling another by a factor of four or more makes it the first choice for developers.

As for the slow start it's true it can be turned around but it takes time, often years. Again developers are a factor in this: if they quit the platform when it slumps and only return when it takes off again they could delay its return to health: the biggest complaint about the 3DS is already lack of software.

But I don't think Nintendo has years. If the 3DS doesn't take off this Christmas and into 2012 the slump could be permanent. Smartphones are growing to take over the whole phone market, and very soon almost all potential buyers of a handheld console will have a phone that plays games costing mostly $0.99. They won't want to pay even $100 for a games console.

Posted:3 years ago

#19

Jinho Choi Lead Character Artist, EA Canada

3 0 0.0
I think Nintendo's biggest mistake is missing the boat on partnering with a major cellphone manufacturer to move into the mobile market while it had the leverage as the largest mobile game publisher.

Nintendo's weak point is their strong home market of Japan. The fact that they are in such a comfortable position at home is preventing them from adapting to the ever evolving situation outside it seems.
You go to Japan, you see people playing games on their DS/PSP all the time. Outside of Japan, all you see are people playing games on their smartphones. That's the difference that they fail to see.

The dominance at home is what ruined the once invincible Japanese electronics companies, and Nintendo seems to be going that way too.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jinho Choi on 3rd August 2011 8:11pm

Posted:3 years ago

#20

Tony Johns

520 12 0.0
I really wanted the 3DS to sell well as well as the Vita.

There are just so many consumers in the market these days more than there were in the past.

So with a huge number of new consumers heading over to the mobile devices, it should be no surprise that there is a spike in sales compared to the consistent handheld market.

If I had more money, I would be supporting the 3DS and the PS Vita

But I have university and one day I will want to get a job and afford a few other things and I just don't see the younger ones come though to addapt to the newer handhelds when they could get something cheeper on a phone or iPad.

Perhaps the Wii U would be a step in the right direction with the screen on the controller that makes it appeal to the tablet users.



Posted:3 years ago

#21

Login or register to post

Take part in the GamesIndustry community

Register now