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

Nintendo in the Crosshairs: Why PlayMG Believes it Can Top 3DS

Nintendo in the Crosshairs: Why PlayMG Believes it Can Top 3DS

Wed 29 Aug 2012 8:38pm GMT / 4:38pm EDT / 1:38pm PDT
Mobile

We speak with the startup about its upcoming MG Android-based portable

When it comes to the dedicated portable games market, Nintendo is unquestionably still the leader. While 3DS got off to a slow start, sales have picked up very nicely, fueled by stronger software and a price cut. With over 19 million sold, 3DS is the king of portables, but Nintendo and the entire handheld market faces increasing pressure from smartphones and tablets. Now a startup called PlayMG is attempting to leverage the best of the Android market as a way to shake up the portable gaming sector.

GamesIndustry International spoke with T. Scott Edwards, PlayMG Corp Founding Partner and Marketing Guru, about the firm's new MG portable device and why they're so confident they have what it takes to compete in a difficult market.

1

PlayMG's team has a wealth of experience with consumer electronics and mobile devices. Edwards himself was recently Senior Vice President, General Manager and Chief Marketing Officer for Cricket Communications where he brought affordable wireless services to over five million customers. He's also worked in senior roles for huge tech companies like Hewlett-Packard, Gateway and Sony. Edwards believes now is the time to strike, as the handheld sector is rapidly evolving.

"We wanted to extend our wireless experience beyond phones and into an innovative consumer opportunity. We looked for areas where there were consumer problems that needed to be solved and where the industry incumbents weren't solving them and then moved very quickly. Portable gaming is in a state of transformation, and we decided we could help fuel the redesign of gaming. It was also a really fun project to do with our kids who have been very involved in the development process," he noted.

"Many consumers no longer want to pay $40 for Nintendo games when they can get the same entertainment value from app games for free or $.99"

PlayMG is a relative unknown, however, so why should gamers trust that the MG device will offer an experience they want? "Three reasons," answered Edwards. "1) Our team has more than 50 years of designing and delivering consumer tech to the market, including designing and delivering 5 million wireless phones to the US market in the last 4 years; 2) the gaming platform that we operate on is the widely known and popular Android game app market; and 3) we spent a lot of time listening to kids and parents about the problems they had with the current gaming experience and most of our innovations are inspired by them."

Kids and parents... who else might be targeting those very same consumers this holiday season? Nintendo, of course. Edwards doesn't appear to be too concerned by the house that Mario built, though. In fact, PlayMG is even pricing its MG at the same price point as 3DS: $169. (Consumers can get it for cheaper if they support the Kickstarter campaign.)

2

"To solve consumer needs, we considered total cost of ownership. Many consumers no longer want to pay $40 for Nintendo games when they can get the same entertainment value from app games for free or $.99. That makes $169 for the MG a lot more attractive to many consumers than the Nintendo 3DS system," insisted Edwards.

Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata would counter this by saying that all those free or cheap Android apps simply can't provide a deep experience that core gamers crave. Edwards believes that consumers are the ones who will ultimately decide.

"I think eight consecutive quarters of double digit declines speaks for itself. Einstein said, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results"

"We don't believe in telling consumers what they like and don't like. Our research shows that gaming behavior is changing and many people are now defining gaming by 'occasion,' not the types of people they are. Hard Core and Casual are old school ways of talking about the multiple gaming experiences enjoyed today. There are many different types of games developed for the app marketplaces, and many are the premium 'high quality' games that were traditionally reserved for 'hard core gamers'," he continued.

With NPD reports in the US showing constant declines at retail, Edwards doesn't see much hope for the retail software market. The opportunity is digital, and he hopes PlayMG can take advantage this holiday.

"I think eight consecutive quarters of double digit declines speaks for itself. Einstein said, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. We hope the MG will add some much needed innovation excitement to the portable game industry this holiday," he said.

For now, PlayMG is only launching the MG in the US market, but if things go well, it could possibly launch internationally. "At this point we are very focused on doing a great job launching in the US market. Then we will take it one step at a time; but whatever our future, we will move extremely quick. We will make and sell as many as we possibly can this holiday season, but to make sure you get one, go to Kickstarter and beat the rush," he noted.

Speaking of Kickstarter, most in the industry are now aware that you can't rely on the crowdfunding model for everything. Fatigue is setting in, and there's hardly a guarantee that Kickstarter will work to generate the funding needed for a proper launch. That's not a problem, though, Edwards told us.

"We are funded, and have been so far, to make a commercial launch this holiday," he remarked. "Kickstarter, is a wonderful vehicle to allow consumers to get involved in helping us establish our company and brand from the start, a process that has not been traditionally available to new product introductions.  So the more support we can get from the Kickstarter community the better we will be able to take on the 'Big Guys' who are not offering consumers much innovation this holiday. I think we are only seeing the beginning of where Kickstarter and crowdfunding is going."

PlayMG naturally doesn't have the budget of a Nintendo or Sony, but Edwards still plans to be very active in getting the word out about the MG. "We will go to where our consumers are spending most of their time and sharing information quickly. There are 'new rules' in marketing that really bring down the barriers of not having huge budgets and we will execute on these with a great deal of fun, and more game," he said.

Considering that MG is an Android device, we wondered if there might be a plan to get PlayStation Mobile certified. Edwards doesn't appear interested in getting additional PlayStation games on the MG, though. "There are over 60,000 games available on the Android app market. We believe that will be enough to keep our customers satisfied for a while," he said.

One way to draw attention to MG, however, is to secure some exclusives, so it's not completely reliant on the Android app market. "We hope to work very closely with developers, big and small, to help fuel the redesign of gaming. That will likely include some exclusives in the future," Edwards said.

While the MG is an interesting idea, there are other Android-specific gaming devices coming to market, like Wikipad, for example. The difference, Edwards said, is that MG is still the only one that's actually a portable. You don't want to try to put a tablet in your pocket, after all.

"We don't know of any other portable, pocketable Android gaming device on the market. Our target was pretty intent that their gaming experience be able to fit in their pocket, so that is where we put our focus. We see our competition as other portable, pocketable gaming systems, but mostly those who are still dependent on expensive physical game cartridges/discs," he said.

36 Comments

Zan Toplisek

44 16 0.4
Popular Comment
Oh please... This has failure written all over it.

Posted:2 years ago

#1

Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd

1,020 1,467 1.4
Popular Comment
Yeah, not to be super negative, but this doesn't seem to have any of the good features of either market its straddling. You don't get the buttons or game depth and quality of the 3DS nor the variety of apps on smart devices. Why on Earth would anyone buy this over a 3DS for dedicated games or over a Nexus 7 for a mix of the two? Sorry guys, but to me this is a swing and a miss.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nicholas Pantazis on 29th August 2012 11:19pm

Posted:2 years ago

#2

Nuttachai Tipprasert Programmer

79 60 0.8
All Android devices available out there in the market can do everything this thing going to offer; most of them can even do better. So, tell me again why I need to buy your device when I already have Galaxy S in my pocket?

Posted:2 years ago

#3

Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.

2,270 2,439 1.1
PlayMG Believes it Can Top 3DS.

Ambition without execution leaves empty hopes.

Posted:2 years ago

#4

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,193 1,170 0.5
Popular Comment
Yikes. Then there's the MOGA handheld to consider as well as a contender, but I think Nintendo isn't worried much about PowerA either...

Then there's this bit of pompousness:

"Many consumers no longer want to pay $40 for Nintendo games when they can get the same entertainment value from app games for free or $.99."

OK, OK, mobile-centric people. We get it already, thanks for playing, but you still don't understand everything.

Where are the Zeldas, Marios and Professor Laytons of the mobile era that cost a buck but aren't awful knock-offs that can get people away from those "$40" games (which aren't all $40, by the way). Or, get them away from Nintendo, for that matter.

People like paying more for some of these console and handheld games because they feel they're getting their money's worth at the end of the day thanks to a combination of factors that come BEFORE the price point. Not to mention they get an actual physical product.

With download only games, there's a layer of cheapness and invisibility that not even the best games can disguise. With some exceptions, you don't "own" what you buy at all on your device. It's all just taking up space in your memory until you delete it for that new cheap game that's popular. Yes, you can recover that deleted game, but for how long? And what happens when you lose the ability to? What, you're supposed to say "Oh well, it was ONLY a dollar" or something? Multiply that by X number of gamers and yeah, that's a lot of dollars disappearing.

For first-party games, at least Nintendo offers up reward points and other incentives that don't end up costing users a dime.

That's a bred loyalty that's happening, which is a lot more than I can say for mobile, which is (going back to the disappearing dollars comment I made above) basically all about users constantly paying out of pocket to play a single game time after time, making that .99 investment cost MORE than $40 in a lot of cases. Most people I've spoken to love their mobile gaming for what it is, but hate the fact that if they like a game, they end up blowing too much on it and not feeling too good about that (after the fact, of course).

Until those days of mobile epics and evergreen games that people don't mind paying premiums for ONE time roll in, are a regular occurrence AND can be successfully marketed while not making dedicated system gamers feel like they're "inferior" for not playing them, maybe some of these products will get more respect.

Posted:2 years ago

#5

Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game

1,254 421 0.3
Ok, but there are a fair few Android phones cheaper than that. Just looked at the US Amazon to familiarise with prices of US low end Androids, some came in at $125. So why not buy one of those, put in a pay as you go sim, and save $60?

Posted:2 years ago

#6

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
This falls into the huge void between two stools.
On the one hand we have the Google Nexus 7 and other upcoming 7inch tablets which will be vastly more cost effective for customers.
On the other hand we have the DS, which taps into Nintendo's rich vein of IP.
How can this thing compete with either?

Posted:2 years ago

#7

Steve Peterson West Coast Editor, GamesIndustry.biz

108 73 0.7
I don't really see the advantage here over the Android phone you might already get, aside from not having to purchase a contract... but then if you do you get phone and data service. Why not just get a Galaxy S III? On the other hand, the Nintendo 3DS at least has one analog joystick (though it should be two), and dedicated buttons, as well as some cool games. I don't really see the unique selling point here. Maybe if they lowered the price, or added some controls...

Posted:2 years ago

#8

Peter Dwyer Games Designer/Developer

482 293 0.6
Popular Comment
I looked at this in complete disbelief.

Who funded this and where oh where can I get some of that free money! After all it's not like the funders are expecting to get anything back and I'm quite happy to act as a tax write-off.

Posted:2 years ago

#9

Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters

527 786 1.5
This looks like a project that someone came up with before anyone knew the Nexus 7 was coming along, and may have even been a good idea back then. But then along comes that Nexus and obliterates every advantage the PlayMG might have had. It's like they've been living in a bubble for over a year and haven't noticed what's already out there on the market. It amuses me the way this guy talks about Android as if he's only just discovered it and thinks we all have no idea what it is.

Posted:2 years ago

#10

Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game

1,254 421 0.3
The other big issue, when you get past competition of mid range androids, the iPod touch that already exists, and the Google Nexus tablet, at similar price points, is that if this took off, being Android, Samsung or HTC or Sony could just release a cheaper one with access to all the same games.

Posted:2 years ago

#11

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing

1,135 1,171 1.0
An iPod touch without Apple branding? Others have tried and failed. Best of luck to Mr. Edwards, but I believe he is too focused on the price point of games debate. I think this device is too offline to appeal to the social crowd and too touchscreen to appeal to the gamer crowd.

Personally, I am more excited for the Neo Geo X.

Posted:2 years ago

#12

Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters

527 786 1.5
Also I don't understand why if you're going to interview them, why you wouldn't ask that blindingly obvious question, what their response is to the Nexus 7? Did they decline to talk about that because they know they have nothing to rival it and hope people just don't notice?

Posted:2 years ago

#13

Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator

954 182 0.2
That design is a bit dire, I'd be embarrassed to whip it out in public, but hey that's just me.

Posted:2 years ago

#14

Daniel Hughes Studying PhD Literary Modernism, Bangor University

436 496 1.1
"Many consumers no longer want to pay $40 for Nintendo games when they can get the same entertainment value from app games for free or $.99"

So long as that mentality persists, this device is doomed to fail. You don't compete directly with Nintendo by believing that Nintendo's top games don't deserve or even demand a premium price. You don't dismiss Nintendo's games as the 'same entertainment value' as free or $0.99 apps provide; it's either blind arrogance or complete stupidity.

It's a shame. There could be a market for a dedicated portable that can tap into the App market. One of the biggest disappointments for me with Vita and 3DS, is that neither Sony or Nintendo have done anything much to straddle the app market with their digital content. A dedicated Nintendo handheld that gets the best of the app games on its eShop? That would be excellent. I enjoy eShop, and there are some great gems on there, but it could be so much more.

As it is, though, aiming for Nintendo with this is absurd. There might be tens of thousands of apps available for this, but will those thousands of apps (available on smartphones and other devices already) sell 5 million or more systems the way one of Nintendo's big games does? I highly doubt it.

Posted:2 years ago

#15

Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters

527 786 1.5
Surely there's a bit of chicken and the egg going on with regards to devices on Android aimed at actual gamers rather than people who just happen to play games because their phone supports it. Core gamers want decent controls, like sticks and buttons, but unless every phone comes with these, no developer will bother making a game that will only work well on such a device. No one will buy the device unless games are there to support it and no one will make the games when doing so limits your market.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Dave Herod on 30th August 2012 1:29pm

Posted:2 years ago

#16

Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.

2,270 2,439 1.1
I wish you guys well but it's takes a lot of crass, overconfidence, balls and arrogance to come out of the gate with an inferior product and claim you will take down the king of the hill in a totally different market segment.

If nothing else, you got your name out there in the media now.

Posted:2 years ago

#17

Thomas Dolby Project Manager / Lead Programmer, Ai Solve

340 292 0.9
Looking at the specs and the description, I'm desperately trying to find a reason why someone could think this could work. The only reason I could come up with is ignorance. It's outpriced by phone contracts, it doesn't have the feature set or specifications of the Nexus, as far as I can see it doesn't offer phone/3G services, it doesn't even use the latest version of Android. The fact that the only features they can mention are parental controls, a payment system (Google Wallet anyone?) and some kind of avatar system (is that exciting to anyone anymore?) lead me to come to some pretty grim conclusions on it's outcome. If I haven't missed anything and this turns out to be a success, I'll shut up about any kind of predictions in future.

Posted:2 years ago

#18

Rogier Voet Editor / Content Manager

71 31 0.4
And how Is this device downloading games? It Only works with wi-fi that is a problem also for the nexus but that has far more compelling features

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Rogier Voet on 30th August 2012 4:37pm

Posted:2 years ago

#19

Martin Klima Executive Producer, Warhorse Studios

26 50 1.9
Is this anything else than a Kickstarter project right now? They are looking for $950,000 and if they don't find them till the end of September (as I would assume they wouldn't), none of this happens, or is there some other investor?

Posted:2 years ago

#20
No other android gaming devices?! Xperia Play! I own one. I love it. It's the perfect android gaming device and I'm writing on it now. But it's relative failure can't be denied and is surely proof of how hard it is to succeed in this area especially if one of your main selling points is that you believe you are doing something new.

Posted:2 years ago

#21

Laurens Bruins Jaywalker, Jaywalkers Interactive

135 158 1.2
I haven't read anything in this article to tell me 'Why PlayMG Believes it Can Top 3DS'.

As far as I can see, it's an Android phone, but without the phone? Well... that's just... great. ;)

Posted:2 years ago

#22

Adam Campbell Associate Producer, Miniclip Ltd

1,183 973 0.8
Can't say much other than this platform is doomed.

Posted:2 years ago

#23
@Daniel - "So long as that mentality persists, this device is doomed to fail. You don't compete directly with Nintendo by believing that Nintendo's top games don't deserve or even demand a premium price. You don't dismiss Nintendo's games as the 'same entertainment value' as free or $0.99 apps provide; it's either blind arrogance or complete stupidity."

Amen - I wish so called analysts would understand this and stop writing complete drivel.

Posted:2 years ago

#24

James Berg Games User Researcher, EA Canada

172 218 1.3
This is hilarious. Everything about this is awful, including the appearance of the device.

Posted:2 years ago

#25

Wojciech Mroczek Awesome Content Specialist, GOG.com

18 10 0.6
While I can appreciate the need of developing Android-based gaming toys, I can't see any device without physical buttons, d-pad, and preferably some analog stick or knob (or two!) meeting my expectations of a hand-held gaming device.

Posted:2 years ago

#26

Kevin Patterson musician

187 103 0.6
I saw the article title and was excited and then saw the unit has no buttons, no sticks, no actual controls.
Gamers who buy 3DS aren't worried about specs, they want the unique gameplay that a dual screen dedicated games unit can bring PLUS those Nintendo style games. Nintendo fans don't mind spending the money for quality games as the unit has controls, and a traditional game experience, touch screens do not offer that.

Posted:2 years ago

#27

Jesse HR and HMI consultancy.

15 6 0.4
@ John Owens
@Daniel - "So long as that mentality persists, this device is doomed to fail. You don't compete directly with Nintendo by believing that Nintendo's top games don't deserve or even demand a premium price. You don't dismiss Nintendo's games as the 'same entertainment value' as free or $0.99 apps provide; it's either blind arrogance or complete stupidity."

Amen - I wish so called analysts would understand this and stop writing complete drivel.
Indeed. Analysts and Bruce Everiss.

Posted:2 years ago

#28

Fyzard Brown Sales Associate, VideoGameAdvantage

39 6 0.2
Who is trying to revive the NGAGE? I see no reason to buy this over any other Android phone. Actually this would make me want to buy a Windows Phone more because at lease that has a brand other than the Me-To I'm on Android vibe I'm getting from this phone.

Posted:2 years ago

#29

Spencer Franklin Concept Artist

95 125 1.3
Just....Wow.
And now I can honestly say, this is the first time I have EVER seen a topic with this many posts, that included Bruce Everiss, and even he was in step with all the views expressed in this thread.

I'm sitting here looking at my daughters 3DS...and looking at this thing, and thinking.."really? your gonna try and take down the king...with this "me too" device?... Seriously..??"

Just...wow.

Posted:2 years ago

#30

Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters

527 786 1.5
The Kickstarter campaign pretty much echoes what people are saying here. Going two days and only 152 backers with just over $20,000. If they keep up that rate they won't even hit a third of their target. I don't want to see people fail, but this whole venture seems like the kind of thing you'd see on Dragon's Den where all the dragons are just sat there facepalming and you hope one of them will talk some sense into them before they embarrass themselves and lose a lot of money.

Posted:2 years ago

#31

Keldon Alleyne Handheld Developer, Avasopht Ltd

449 423 0.9
Many consumers no longer want to pay $40 for Nintendo games when they can get the same entertainment value from app games for free or $.99
A hasty generalisation, and a terrible one at that. "Many consumers" fails to identify any significant population, suggesting a a shortcoming in their market research.
I think eight consecutive quarters of double digit declines speaks for itself. Einstein said, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
Does he have amnesia? Doesn't he know how to read markets over a long term period. The market was steady at around $30bn for over ten years until it started to rise in 2006 with the Nintendo Wii. The industry inflated big time. This generation of consoles has lasted much longer than most and the fall in hardware sales is inevitable, and software sales also fall after four years into the cycle. Clearly he's not done his homework, he gets a D- from me.

Posted:2 years ago

#32

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development

892 1,327 1.5
Archos. Message ends.

Posted:2 years ago

#33

Julian Toseland games podcaster/website

23 6 0.3
@Greg Wilcox
Absolutely bloody spot on mate, brilliantly put, and my sentiments exactly, to keep hearing the same line from these kind of people. "99" games and mobile devices are "Proper" games", is to be honest a joke, not even close, and never will be.

Would I throw a DS/Vita in the mix of "proper"gaming, yes I would for the points Greg makes, top, top games like Zelda and the rest require full blown commitment, were as "99" games grab your attention for minutes at best.

Something else I think as well, nowhere is it ever quoted that folks play these maybe once and then delete, which for me would be an astronomical amount in my opinion.
I also think, since all this "mobile" stuff broke onto the marketplace, I have played hundreds if not thousands of games for my podcast reviews, how many of those are either, 1. have I finished, or 2 stayed on my device for more than a few weeks....answer..NONE.

Mobile gaming is a simple fast fix at best, to bring yet more devices to "try" compete with the bigger boys, is to me, anyway, both foolish and very naive.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Julian Toseland on 1st September 2012 11:53am

Posted:2 years ago

#34

Login or register to post

Take part in the GamesIndustry community

Register now