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As the Handheld World Changes, Nintendo Strikes Back

Between iOS, Android, the impending release of Vita and cursed by its predecessor's success, 3DS struggles to position itself.

Dusty and with a dead battery, the current state of most people's 3DS machines. Including mine.

No one can say Nintendo isn't taking the tepid response to the 3DS seriously. The cost of buying a brand-new 3DS will drop from $249.99 to $169.99 on August 12, slashing the retail price $80 almost five months after launch.

"At $169.99, the 3DS is now an incredible value to both gamers and consumers," said EEDAR analyst Jesse Divinich over email to me today. "I think it is safe to say we are unlikely to see another 3DS price cut anytime soon, and the fate of the 3DS hardware will now solely rest on the quality of content. Content, I believe, will shine this holiday season."

The DS launched on November 21, 2004. By the end of March, Nintendo had sold 5.27 million units worldwide. Nintendo has pushed 4.32 million 3DS units in roughly the same timeframe, but it's crucial to note that's without the benefit of the holidays.

3DS' future will be better judged after Christmas.

The biggest release so far has been a remake, while the next major release is...the same thing.

In the meantime, content is something 3DS has been sorely lacking. The no-glasses 3D trick was not enough to convince consumers en masse that 3DS was worth picking up at $249.99, with games like Pilotwings Resort and Super Street Fighter IV leading the software charge. Last month's The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D was the first substantial release from Nintendo since the hardware's late March launch.

Sluggish hardware sales have prompted publishers to start quietly pushing content back, in fact. Sega had planned to release both Crush 3D and Shinobi in September, then suddenly announced both would be pushed back several months, with Crush 3D not arriving until 2012.

Alongside the price cut, Nintendo confirmed release months for Super Mario 3D Land (November) and Mario Kart 7 (December).

"Nintendo plans to release some of its best content for the 3DS this holiday season and as long as consumers agree," said Divinich, "I foresee no reason to doubt a Nintendo turn-around this holiday season."

"As long as consumers agree" is the key issue. Nintendo can get away with charging $39.99 for its releases, thanks to brand recognition for its characters and franchises. The problem third-parties have always struggled with on Nintendo platforms in the modern age is competing with Nintendo's tent-poles.

Complicating matters is the rise of the smartphone as a reliable on-the-go gaming machine. Consumers expect to pay less for mobile entertainment now. Dollar games are plentiful on Apple's App Store, and some of them are terrific.

Epic Games made $10 million off Infinity Blade and nothing off BulletStorm. Guess which was cheaper to make?

There may be more substance to Nintendo's creations, but what's the threshold of "good enough"?

The race to the bottom was challenged by Nintendo president Satoru Iwata at this year's Game Developers Conference, where he encouraged developers to continue to assign value to their work.

“The objectives of smartphones and social network platforms are not at all like ours," he said.

At the same time Iwata was speaking, Apple CEO Steve Jobs was literally across the street announcing the iPad 2, and revealing Apple had paid developers more than $2 billion through App Store sales.

Iwata asked developers to avoid the race to the bottom common on iOS and social platforms.

"What I wanted to argue most was that video game developers need to be careful about 'preserving the value of video games' so that the video game industry, regarded as valuable by many people, can be sustainable," said Iwata, reflecting a few months later.

Combined with Facebook's games explosion, the expectations from consumers for games has changed completely.

"Consoles used to be 80% of the industry as recently as 2000," said Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello in an interview with Industry Gamers. "Consoles today are 40% of the game industry, so what do we really have? We have a new hardware platform and we’re putting out software every 90 days. Our fastest growing platform is the iPad right now and that didn’t exist 18 months ago."

Nintendo has been slow to encourage development on the eShop, mostly relying on its existing DSiWare catalog and a steady release of revamped "3D Classics." Nintendo's storefront is a better experience on 3DS, but it's hardly the App Store in breadth or ease of use. There are rarely sales on the eShop, let alone demos. Many iOS games happily play with price points to spur attention, and if you're just looking to download a bunch of apps to play with, there's an entire free section to explore.

Free doesn't exist in Iwata's wheelhouse (unless you're talking about Virtual Console games to early adopters, anyway).

I'd love to download a bunch of experimental 3D projects for a buck on my 3DS, wouldn't you?

On WiiWare, Nintendo at one point made a big deal because a small slice of games were honored with the ability to have a demo--temporarily. They eventually disappeared. That's not a way to encourage people to experiment with their dollars.

One of the more immediate questions outside of Nintendo's financial sphere is how the 3DS price drop will affect Sony's PSP successor, Vita. The industry welcomed Sony's decision to price match 3DS at $249.99 for the cheapest Vita model, and it's unclear whether Sony will be able to adjust any lower.

Sony did not return my request for comment on the 3DS price drop.

Sony found a way to price VIta at $249.99, but will they find a way to slice away at the price more?

"This price cut does put the Vita in a tough position," said Divinich. "Not to sound like a broken record, but it all comes down to the content and if the Vita can deliver a library of high quality entertainment products, it should be able to thrive at the $249 price point."

The reason Nintendo dropped to $169.99 specifically may have more to do with margins. Bloomberg Japan reports that Nintendo will be taking a loss on each 3DS sold going forward. One of Nintendo's hallmarks is its ability to turn a profit on all hardware on day one, so whatever the sales outcome of the platform, at least the company is making money. Not anymore.

"I would suspect that the 3DS is now being sold at near break-even for Nintendo," said Divinich.

Given that Nintendo's reporting a massive quarterly loss, all bets are off.

And while no one will question whether Nintendo's move today was bold, will it be enough?

Iwata traditionally speaks to investors right after a financial report. We should know more about what Nintendo's thinking soon.

Patrick Klepek on Google+
157 Comments
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Posted by PenguinDust

They really need to get a Pokemon game on this platform lickity-split.  That will sell a lot of units for them because the kids, they love them pokemons.

Edited by patrickklepek

@Xtrminatr said:

How are they losing money on every console sold now? The 3ds has $100 in parts in it.

Parts isn't the total price of getting it on shelves. Add that in, and Nintendo's taking a loss in the short term. It'll change.

Staff
Posted by Enigma777

I'm still not getting one at $170 because absolutely none of the current announced software lineup interests me. Maybe a year or two from now when they release a Lite model with a better battery, I might bite.

In the meantime I'll pinch my pennies for a Vita, since that one is much more appealing to me. Uncharted Golden Abyss alone makes it a must buy.

Posted by Shaanyboi
@Thoseposers said:

I honestly do not understand the desire to play mobile phone games at all. Their quality is nothing compared to normal console games or handheld games.


When they're trying to blatantly emulate what a retail console game does, I'd agree with you. 
Posted by ReddenBlack
@Enigma777 said:

I'm still not getting one at $170 because absolutely none of the current announced software lineup interests me.

 
THIS.  My friend was trying to convince me to get one the other day. His main argument was that I should get it just to Ocarina. I told him I played that game a decade ago. 
Posted by aceofspudz

I think there will always be a market for high-spec portable gaming. It isn't the blue ocean, but the Vita has a chance.

Posted by paradox121
@mracoon said:

Comparing 3DS sales up to this point with initial DS sales, the 3DS has done pretty well all things considered. I mean the Japanese earthquake, general economic downturn and releasing in a non-hoilday season are all going to make a dent in sales so 4.32 million sold is nothing to scoff at.

I really wish this was pointed out more. The 3DS launch has been pretty amazing for many reasons; the late e-shop launch, the dramatic price cut, but most of all people being amazed that it both had an average launch line-up and wasn't selling gangbusters like the DS. It took the DS a good year and a whole hardware revision to get going. I'm in no way saying that that's what it'll take this time, but the way people forget about the DS' first year is pretty amazing. I can see why people would assume that the 3DS should've had some 'steam' coming off of the DS branding, but again you're in a saturated market that has either moved to mobile gaming or already has got a DS. I think the holiday season will definitely be telling, both for the 3DS and probably the Vita, but this weird perception among the gaming industry that the thing should be selling out constantly with a stock-filled library of games is a little ludicrous. 
Edited by Advancedcaveman

I really don’t understand the situation with “pick up and play bite sized games” when people bring up smartphone games. Why does this automatically have to mean some microscopic high score game like tiny wings where all you do is touch the screen for 3 seconds and upload your high scores to facebook or whatever? Any game in any genera can “bite sized.” A first person shooter can be pick up and play! All the term pick up and play really means is that there’s less bullshit between you and the basic gameplay.

The only real reason we even now distinguish the idea of a pick up and play games is the fact that basically every modern game constantly forces you to sit through variations of the half life train-ride sequence. Stop playing so we can force you to sit through some exposition. Before half life, first person shooters where the very definition of "bite sized." Duke Nukem 3d, Doom, Jedi Knight, Quake, all of these games could be enjoyed in 5 minute chunks because there where never any 30 minute unskipable scripted  sequences that forced you to stop playing the game so the developers can wave their budget in your face. You could also save anywhere, and aside from not letting you play the damn game, not letting you bookmark your progress on your own terms seems to be a problem the game industry has. 

I understand the desire for smaller games on a portable, but I don't want to play Tiny wings or Canabalt. I hate that shit. I want games that are headed somewhere. Developers can make shooters, RPGs, strategy games, and just about anything else playable in brief chunks, all they have to do is let you save anywhere, and cut out all the bullshit handholding and scripted engine tech dickwaving that modern games do. Make a shooter on the Vita where you just run around and shoot things like old shooters instead of occasionally shooting things between  long, on rails "cinimatic tension building" segments like modern shooters. Give it more simple, stylized graphics, or even retro graphics, so the load times can be short or non existent. Why is that so fucking hard to do? People where doing it on the Gameboy Advance! Why can't they do it on the 3DS and Vita? Why couldn't they do it on the PSP and DS? 
Posted by zigx
@Thoseposers: What if I told you for me, it's never been a matter of quality comparison. I mean trying to compare something like Tiny Wings or Dungeon Raid to full blown games like Professor Layton, Mario & Luigi RPG or Advance Wars is silly. It's always been a matter of convenience to me. Gone are my college days where I had a long public commute and hours of deadtime between classes to get my handheld gaming on. Now I can only do handheld gaming in smaller sized chunks which many iPhone games do perfectly. Plus, while mobile games are a far cry away in depth and quality of the handheld/console library, I can't deny that many of them are simply just fun to play.  
 
I know it's not for everyone, but hopefully you can at least understand why many people, including the staff on this very site, do play mobile games.
Posted by Daveydave

Just saw the new 3DS advert here in the UK. Actually come away pretty impressed. They showcase the graphics alot more, and how its not a DS but a 3DS :)

Posted by DerekDanahy

Good read Patrick.

Posted by Marz

Hasn't anyone ever thought that no one cares about 3D :P

Posted by hagridore

It boggles the mind when Nintendo finally has serious competition in the handheld space and responds with a premium priced device and nothing but tech demos, N64 titles, and Nintendogs (all at a $10 premium from the last DS). At least the 3DS is cheaper than an iPod touch now, but where are the killer apps? At this point in the DS's life didn't we have some awesome games?

I hate iOS games and Its killing me that Nintendo is hobbling themselves.

Posted by DrRandle

So here's the thing I can't stand about these kinds of articles railing Nintendo left and right.

"Last month's The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D was the first substantial release from Nintendo since the hardware's late March launch."

When was the last time Sony or Microsoft released as many first-party games in a year that Nintendo does? In a 3 month span? There's this media-fed perception that only Nintendo is responsible for making a bazillion games for it's system, and we wonder why only Nintendo games sell on Nintendo systems.

"I'd love to download a bunch of experimental 3D projects for a buck on my 3DS, wouldn't you?"

There has been, for three years, a system dedicated to downloading games on the DSi, but all anybody has ever done is slam it for having terrible content. Have you tried looking for a decent game on Android? It's nigh impossible if you don't dive in knowing what you're looking for. And I don't know what I'm looking for without word of mouth. And word of mouth isn't spreading through media outlets because they've all written off the DSiWare as junk, even though it is literally no worst than Android's selection of broken ROM's and bejeweled clones. And yeah the market for DSiWare sucked, but they fixed that now on 3DS, so why are people not telling me how awesome Cave Story, Mighty Flip Champs, and Shantae are? Because they're still ignoring it in favor of their precious iPad's, which has some how elevated itself into godhood, and is unstoppable as a force in the world.

I'm not saying there aren't problems, I'm just tired of every media site focusing on things that aren't the actual problems. They're looking at symptoms, not the real trends, and it's only hurting the game industry more.

If sites really want to continue worshiping the iPad and Facebook as the new gaming gods, and not trying to stir things properly, then we're going to be saying goodbye to the Mass Effects and the Persona's of the world, because there won't be any money left in those markets. It should be the responsibility of these sites, if they really give a damn to see video games continue in a way that doesn't include virtual farms, to help highlight the truly positive qualities of systems out there, instead of constantly shitting all over them.

Posted by bhhawks78

Take out the 3d and then cut the price in half of what it is now is basically the only way of even having a passing interest in purchasing a unit.

Posted by mracoon
@paradox121 said:
@mracoon said:

Comparing 3DS sales up to this point with initial DS sales, the 3DS has done pretty well all things considered. I mean the Japanese earthquake, general economic downturn and releasing in a non-hoilday season are all going to make a dent in sales so 4.32 million sold is nothing to scoff at.

I really wish this was pointed out more. The 3DS launch has been pretty amazing for many reasons; the late e-shop launch, the dramatic price cut, but most of all people being amazed that it both had an average launch line-up and wasn't selling gangbusters like the DS. It took the DS a good year and a whole hardware revision to get going. I'm in no way saying that that's what it'll take this time, but the way people forget about the DS' first year is pretty amazing. I can see why people would assume that the 3DS should've had some 'steam' coming off of the DS branding, but again you're in a saturated market that has either moved to mobile gaming or already has got a DS. I think the holiday season will definitely be telling, both for the 3DS and probably the Vita, but this weird perception among the gaming industry that the thing should be selling out constantly with a stock-filled library of games is a little ludicrous. 
Part of the problem is that Nintendo's own expectations were that it would sell gangbusters from brand recognition even if there wasn't any software to back that up. Another problem was that they were banking heavily on the popularity of 3D but, as can be seen by movie ticket sales, that isn't something people necessarily want.
 
I agree with you that the holidays will give us a much clearer picture of how the handheld market is doing.
Moderator
Posted by TheKing

These 3ds doom and gloom stories are getting old fast. Patrick said it himself "3DS' future will be better judged after Christmas.." so let's wait till then.

Posted by walterbennet

Are the sales really "sluggish" though? The numbers Patrick reported of the DS launch period vs 3DS launch period really sealed the deal for me -- Nintendo overreacted, and so has the general press. There's only a 1m unit discrepancy between the two platforms in their first 4 months of life. That's negligible when you consider the economic climate and as Patrick noted, the lack of a holiday period in that window.

The hardware and pricing isn't the problem here. The perception that the 3DS is failing is due to lackluster software releases.

Posted by Xtrminatr

@patrickklepek said:

@Xtrminatr said:

How are they losing money on every console sold now? The 3ds has $100 in parts in it.

Parts isn't the total price of getting it on shelves. Add that in, and Nintendo's taking a loss in the short term. It'll change.

Gotcha, didn't think it'd be $60 more to get it on the shelves though.

Posted by coonce

@klepek - can we expect to see sales charts for the 3ds in the weeks following the price drop?

Edited by mekklesak

The indignity of shopping at GameStop is thwarted by Steam and digital distribution. The recent Steam Summer Camp "sale" was a perfect example of this. Games, including those like Super Street Fighter IV AE were available for "download" at slashed prices... No one will pay for premium ever again!!!! My next console is an affordable PC Laptop (after I upgrade to a newer Mac Book Pro, iPad and iPhone). Digital distribution lays waste to the oppressive chains of bulky consoles and soul sucking chain stores! Free at last! 
 
(edit:) Also, on the developer side Smart Phone gaming opens doors to smaller garage style games (like it has been doing). This is a revolution! Just like when Pac-Man was being presented to Atari for the first time. It's just like the early 80's, all over again. Never underestimate the little guy! Viva la resistance!!!! 

Posted by deerhaunter

More companies really need to follow the Steam model. The only time I buy a game anymore is when it's on some crazy Steam sale. Great games can be cheap too. Iwata can't argue that Terraria wasn't an amazing deal for $2.

Posted by csl316

All this discussion is all well and good.

But what does Michael Pachter have to say about all this??

Posted by OldManLollipop

I think I hate everything.

Posted by Lukeweizer

Kinda satisfying to see Nintendo struggling. Got pretty sock of them rehashing their old shit and people just eating it up.

Edited by PXAbstraction
@DrRandle said:

So here's the thing I can't stand about these kinds of articles railing Nintendo left and right.

"Last month's The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D was the first substantial release from Nintendo since the hardware's late March launch."

When was the last time Sony or Microsoft released as many first-party games in a year that Nintendo does? In a 3 month span? There's this media-fed perception that only Nintendo is responsible for making a bazillion games for it's system, and we wonder why only Nintendo games sell on Nintendo systems.

"I'd love to download a bunch of experimental 3D projects for a buck on my 3DS, wouldn't you?"

There has been, for three years, a system dedicated to downloading games on the DSi, but all anybody has ever done is slam it for having terrible content. Have you tried looking for a decent game on Android? It's nigh impossible if you don't dive in knowing what you're looking for. And I don't know what I'm looking for without word of mouth. And word of mouth isn't spreading through media outlets because they've all written off the DSiWare as junk, even though it is literally no worst than Android's selection of broken ROM's and bejeweled clones. And yeah the market for DSiWare sucked, but they fixed that now on 3DS, so why are people not telling me how awesome Cave Story, Mighty Flip Champs, and Shantae are? Because they're still ignoring it in favor of their precious iPad's, which has some how elevated itself into godhood, and is unstoppable as a force in the world.

I'm not saying there aren't problems, I'm just tired of every media site focusing on things that aren't the actual problems. They're looking at symptoms, not the real trends, and it's only hurting the game industry more.

If sites really want to continue worshiping the iPad and Facebook as the new gaming gods, and not trying to stir things properly, then we're going to be saying goodbye to the Mass Effects and the Persona's of the world, because there won't be any money left in those markets. It should be the responsibility of these sites, if they really give a damn to see video games continue in a way that doesn't include virtual farms, to help highlight the truly positive qualities of systems out there, instead of constantly shitting all over them.

Pretty much this. The way iOS fandom has so come to dominate the tech and gaming press is getting out of control. Not that iOS shouldn't be counted, to say so would be silly. But because of the current trend of mainstream consumers buying iPhones and iPads as fashion accessories (which can and will die off, eventually resulting in a still big iOS market that won't be growing nearly as fast), even what was a good launch for the 3DS with all things considered gets written off as a disaster because anyone who doesn't sell as much in a quarter as Apple has clearly failed. Patrick said it himself, the 3DS has sold less than the DS, even though it launched in the middle of the year instead of Christmas and had the same horrible software lineup that every console and handheld launch pretty much ever has had. But instead of that being the norm, it means "the handheld market has moved on, dedicated handhelds are dead, long live iPad!"
 
I think it's ridiculous to assume that all portable gaming is moving to mobile but yes, it is possible. If so, that saddens me greatly. 95% of what's on the App Store is garbage (even many iOS fanbois will say this, they don't look at anything that isn't super highly rated.) Of the 5% of stuff that isn't garbage, it's almost all disposable experiences with no depth, no memorability and most of it is derivative and simplistic. Infinity Blade sold because it's Unreal Engine on iOS. It's a crappy attempt at a Punch Out game with swords. Angry Birds is a simplistic (and in my opinion grossly overrated) physics puzzler, of which there are hundreds. It just happened to get mainstream attention. Guess what? No other title has done that since and there's a reason for that. Only just a few years in, the App Store has become completely hit driven. There have been multiple reports lately talking about how most App Store content loses money and that it's already being dominated by large companies and the 1 game in 50,000 that manages to get mainstream mindshare. The rest remain obscure and their creators make no money or in many cases, lose it. And the argument that "well you can write something for iOS for peanuts in your bedroom" is quickly changing as well with rapid advancements in the hardware that in turn, require more time and money. 3 or 4 more iOS generations and making a game for a few hundred bucks in your spare time will be a thing of the past.
 
iOS is absolutely a viable gaming platform but the current meteoric rise of the platform is a fad and it's not going to keep going the way it is. Before anyone freaks out, I'm not saying that iOS is going to die off, that's absolutely not going to happen. But its current rate of growth is not sustainable (just like the Wii's wasn't) and it's going to trail off and level out. The tech and gaming press seems to be so blinded by fanboyism for the "new hotness" that everything has to be compared to Apple and even when a platform does relatively well, they just say "It's a failure because of Apple!" This needs to stop. Apple is not God (no matter how much some may think so) and to say that companies with a century of experience and success (i.e. Nintendo) should simply give up because they exist is absurd. Look at things objectively and please try to remember that Apple doesn't live in a different world.
 
When everything becomes disposable experiences with the depth of a spoon, that's when I'll personally find a new hobby.
Posted by mekklesak
@Lukeweizer: I heard in Far Cry 3 that, being "crazy" is buying the same Mario game over and over....
Posted by JBird

As much as i love Giantbomb sometimes the journalism on more economic news is a bit waffled. I find the BBC news story to say all of this in a much more succinct manner. 

Posted by Rowr

This is a well written article on the current state of handheld platforms.

Posted by beard_of_zeus

@Rowr said:

This is a well written article on the current state of handheld platforms.

Agreed. Thanks Patrick, keep up the great job with the news section!

Posted by Gerhabio
@JetForceGemini
Who needs real games when we can play iPod games and flash games for cheap or free! Hopefully Apple and Adobe Flash(tm) put the final nail in Nintendo's coffin! 
Yeah... Super high quality games like Tiny Wings or Angry Birds...
I really don't see the appeal of most popular mobile games, they are too monotonous.
Posted by Red_R0B0T

I'm curious where EA's John Riccitiello got his info from. Patrick, do you know where he's citing "consoles are 40% of the market now" from? I'd be curious to see the breakdown for consoles, mobile, facebook/social, and pc, and how they obtained their data.

Posted by milkman4591

"What I wanted to argue most was that video game developers need to be careful about 'preserving the value of video games' so that the video game industry, regarded as valuable by many people, can be sustainable," said Iwata, reflecting a few months later.

Really Iwata? So releasing shovelware hand over fist was your way of preserving the medium?

Posted by rick9109

I would be willing to pay 169 for a 3DS if there was a single game that I hadn't already beaten several times that interested me for the system. Don't get me wrong, I do want to play Ocarina again and Starfox 64 is one of my favorite games of all time, and Cave Story in 3D sounds fun. But it takes a new experience to sell me on a system and that's just not there yet. Because the truth is I would be willing to pay 250 for a 3DS if there was just something semi-new that appealed to me (and so far for whatever reason Kid Icarus and the new Mario just aren't doing it, even though New Super Mario Bros basically sold me the DS Lite).

Posted by McShank

I will probably buy a 3ds in the next year as my ds itself may not last to much longer. and the vita.. 249.99 is a price id pay for it still just to have the increased graphics and to put my Original psp1000 to rest.

Posted by waypoetic

Hiiilraaaarious. Patrick Klepeck does it again. You can't make it any clearer that you're a Nintendo fanboy. 

Posted by DarkbeatDK

I know that there are tons of games getting sold on the iOS devices, hell I've bought several myself, but I'm really having a hard time accepting it as a gaming device. When I play the Capcom Arcade on it that allows me a few free plays a day, it's more of a novelty to play Final Fight on the go, rather than it feels like gaming.

The touch screen controls are just sooooo imprecise and it's really a bother to actually look where you have to push, rather than simply feeling where you have to push on something like a regular controller or buttons.

If Apple really want to be considered as a competing force (which they don't seem to), they'll put out something like the Xperia Play that retains all the touchscreen functionality, but allows the user to use buttons as well in the apps that support it.

Posted by nomorehalfmeasuresdoctor

Epic Games made $10 million off Infinity Blade and nothing off BulletStorm. Guess which was cheaper to make?

I still find it hard to believe that epic made no money off of bulletstorm.

Posted by Marokai
@PXAbstraction said:
@DrRandle said:

So here's the thing I can't stand about these kinds of articles railing Nintendo left and right.

"Last month's The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D was the first substantial release from Nintendo since the hardware's late March launch."

When was the last time Sony or Microsoft released as many first-party games in a year that Nintendo does? In a 3 month span? There's this media-fed perception that only Nintendo is responsible for making a bazillion games for it's system, and we wonder why only Nintendo games sell on Nintendo systems.

"I'd love to download a bunch of experimental 3D projects for a buck on my 3DS, wouldn't you?"

There has been, for three years, a system dedicated to downloading games on the DSi, but all anybody has ever done is slam it for having terrible content. Have you tried looking for a decent game on Android? It's nigh impossible if you don't dive in knowing what you're looking for. And I don't know what I'm looking for without word of mouth. And word of mouth isn't spreading through media outlets because they've all written off the DSiWare as junk, even though it is literally no worst than Android's selection of broken ROM's and bejeweled clones. And yeah the market for DSiWare sucked, but they fixed that now on 3DS, so why are people not telling me how awesome Cave Story, Mighty Flip Champs, and Shantae are? Because they're still ignoring it in favor of their precious iPad's, which has some how elevated itself into godhood, and is unstoppable as a force in the world.

I'm not saying there aren't problems, I'm just tired of every media site focusing on things that aren't the actual problems. They're looking at symptoms, not the real trends, and it's only hurting the game industry more.

If sites really want to continue worshiping the iPad and Facebook as the new gaming gods, and not trying to stir things properly, then we're going to be saying goodbye to the Mass Effects and the Persona's of the world, because there won't be any money left in those markets. It should be the responsibility of these sites, if they really give a damn to see video games continue in a way that doesn't include virtual farms, to help highlight the truly positive qualities of systems out there, instead of constantly shitting all over them.

Pretty much this. The way iOS fandom has so come to dominate the tech and gaming press is getting out of control. Not that iOS shouldn't be counted, to say so would be silly. But because of the current trend of mainstream consumers buying iPhones and iPads as fashion accessories (which can and will die off, eventually resulting in a still big iOS market that won't be growing nearly as fast), even what was a good launch for the 3DS with all things considered gets written off as a disaster because anyone who doesn't sell as much in a quarter as Apple has clearly failed. Patrick said it himself, the 3DS has sold less than the DS, even though it launched in the middle of the year instead of Christmas and had the same horrible software lineup that every console and handheld launch pretty much ever has had. But instead of that being the norm, it means "the handheld market has moved on, dedicated handhelds are dead, long live iPad!"
 
I think it's ridiculous to assume that all portable gaming is moving to mobile but yes, it is possible. If so, that saddens me greatly. 95% of what's on the App Store is garbage (even many iOS fanbois will say this, they don't look at anything that isn't super highly rated.) Of the 5% of stuff that isn't garbage, it's almost all disposable experiences with no depth, no memorability and most of it is derivative and simplistic. Infinity Blade sold because it's Unreal Engine on iOS. It's a crappy attempt at a Punch Out game with swords. Angry Birds is a simplistic (and in my opinion grossly overrated) physics puzzler, of which there are hundreds. It just happened to get mainstream attention. Guess what? Only just a few years in, the App Store has become complete hit driven. There have been multiple reports lately talking about how most App Store content loses money and that it's already being dominated by large companies and the 1 game in 50,000 that manages to get mainstream mindshare. The rest remain obscure and their creators make no money or in many cases, lose it. And the argument that "well you can write something for iOS for peanuts in your bedroom" is quickly changing as well with rapid advancements in the hardware that in turn, require more time and money. 3 or 4 more iOS generations and making a game for a few hundred bucks in your spare time will be a thing of the past.
 
iOS is absolutely a viable gaming platform but the current meteoric rise of the platform is a fad and it's not going to keep going the way it is. Before anyone freaks out, I'm not saying that iOS is going to die off, that's absolutely not going to happen. But its current rate of growth is not sustainable (just like the Wii's wasn't) and it's going to trail off and level out. The tech and gaming press seems to be so blinded by fanboyism for the "new hotness" that everything has to be compared to Apple and even when a platform does relatively well, they just say "It's a failure because of Apple!" This needs to stop. Apple is not God (no matter how much some may think so) and to say that companies with a century of experience and success (i.e. Nintendo) should simply give up because they exist is absurd. Look at things objectively and please try to remember that Apple doesn't live in a different world.  When everything becomes disposable experiences with the depth of a spoon, that's when I'll personally find a new hobby.
Posts like these deserve more attention. Right on in all respects.
Posted by paradox121
@mracoon said:
@paradox121 said:
@mracoon said:

Comparing 3DS sales up to this point with initial DS sales, the 3DS has done pretty well all things considered. I mean the Japanese earthquake, general economic downturn and releasing in a non-hoilday season are all going to make a dent in sales so 4.32 million sold is nothing to scoff at.

I really wish this was pointed out more. The 3DS launch has been pretty amazing for many reasons; the late e-shop launch, the dramatic price cut, but most of all people being amazed that it both had an average launch line-up and wasn't selling gangbusters like the DS. It took the DS a good year and a whole hardware revision to get going. I'm in no way saying that that's what it'll take this time, but the way people forget about the DS' first year is pretty amazing. I can see why people would assume that the 3DS should've had some 'steam' coming off of the DS branding, but again you're in a saturated market that has either moved to mobile gaming or already has got a DS. I think the holiday season will definitely be telling, both for the 3DS and probably the Vita, but this weird perception among the gaming industry that the thing should be selling out constantly with a stock-filled library of games is a little ludicrous. 
Part of the problem is that Nintendo's own expectations were that it would sell gangbusters from brand recognition even if there wasn't any software to back that up. Another problem was that they were banking heavily on the popularity of 3D but, as can be seen by movie ticket sales, that isn't something people necessarily want.  I agree with you that the holidays will give us a much clearer picture of how the handheld market is doing.
I feel in many ways when the 3DS was revealed/shown off back at E3 2010 that was Nintendo's crescendo.  There's no doubting everyone went a little bananas. From a very simplistic view, being told you get to play Ocarina of Time on the go in 3D is a little mad. So, the games journalists went a little mad, the forum posters went a little mad, and Nintendo got greedy off of said madness by sticking a high price on the device. It's kinda crazy to think that the 3DS has sold at the level of the original DS but by today's standards that's enough for them to slash a third off of the price. I think generally, the trouble with 3D, though, is that it's a very 'cool' premise, but in practice unless you throw a spear at the screen every minute its not that amazing. That's besides the point though, the thing that will decide on the 3DS' success is software support. Which annoyingly is dictated by hardware sales. Which in turn is dictated by available software. The fun of the gaming industry, eh?
Posted by Cold_Wolven

I'm not going to make the same mistake with the VIA as I did with the 3DS, I'm going to wait for some damn good games to come out for it then grab one and if a price cut happens before I buy a Vita then bonus.

Posted by Aaron_G

I think Nintendo sees that the market is changing and the release of the 3DS shows that to them. Maybe lowering the price is a great move and the only way to keep moving forward. With iOS apps and other stuff like it, Nintendo has a tougher time selling a console and $40 games.

Posted by Lucidlife

The 3DS is dead. Not releasing games will do that. The problem for Nintendo is people are tired of Mario and Zelda. Hanging that carrot out there isn't going to work this time.

Posted by Trebz

It really is all about our expectations about what a handheld gaming device should be and what it should do. When the DS launched back in '04, there was diddly-squat for months. There was some garbage shovelware and a couple of ports. I bought it on day one and made due with SM64DS until WarioWare Touched! came out three months later. Aside from a couple of rentals along the way, there really wasn't anything good until Canvas Curse in June of that year, which kicked off a steady and increasingly-faster stream of quality releases.  And I'm pretty sure there were plenty of complaints about the lack of decent games for a while. 
The problem is that now, after the advent of "apps," many people expect more for less and don't want to wait half a year for Nintendo to bring the big guns. Nintendo (and Sony) are both going to have to learn, whether it's the easy way or the hard way, that the handheld market has changed a lot in the past six years. It looks like Nintendo's learning the hard way (and hopefully they will learn) but Sony still has plenty of time to plan their marketing and so on. I'm actually very excited to see how this generation's competition will turn out.

Posted by Claude

I wouldn't call it striking back, more like holding on.

Posted by the_OFFICIAL_jAPanese_teaBAG

that would just suck if mobile games completely dominated and killed hand helds...  i dont think iPhone games are fun at all and theyre only mediocre at best

Posted by fallen_elite
@Cold_Wolven said:

I'm not going to make the same mistake with the VIA as I did with the 3DS, I'm going to wait for some damn good games to come out for it then grab one and if a price cut happens before I buy a Vita then bonus.

This is the sensible decision for any console or handheld. I will also be waiting on the Vita and the 3DS until there are enough games worth playing. Preferably when the hardware and software is cheaper too.
Posted by wickedsc3

After seeing the numbers for sales compared to the DS, I would say the 3DS is selling fine its only a million down and that is without the holiday season as PK said. Now with the cheaper price and christmas coming it should get to DS #'s.

Posted by PXAbstraction
@rebgav said:

Kind of irrelevant, if publishers believe that they can make money by churning out shovelware for the App Store then they will do that. If it makes them more money than making semi-decent games for dedicated handhelds then they will focus on that. I doubt that they care much about the quality of their products unless public perception of their product hurts sales. This is why handhelds have survived generation after generation, low-cost development and high profit margins have allowed companies of all sizes to compete and keep that small portion of the market interesting and competitive. If costs escalate because devs have to produce high-quality assets and 3D rendering engines then support for dedicated devices like the 3DS will drop off. The huge percentage of ports in the 3DS line-up, and the questionable quality of most of those ports, is the result of publishers trying to jump onboard with a low-cost low-risk product. Smaller companies might not have the extant software or recognizable IPs to drive sales and those companies will either have to take bigger risks or abandon the platform because they can't afford to compete. That is not a healthy situation for the platform holder or the idea of the dedicated gaming handheld. Look at all of the handhelds which have failed because they couldn't make a dent in Nintendo's market share - while iOS devices have kind of created a new market for portable gaming they're also encroaching on Nintendo's past, present and future share precisely because Apple's devices are not dedicated systems. And that's despite the fact that Apple couldn't care less about the gaming potential of their platforms.
All good points to be sure. I typed my post out pretty fast at work and didn't get to articulate some things the way I would have liked. All I really meant with my comments about the amount of quality stuff in the App Store is that an overabundance of shovelware is what really hurt the Wii and to a certain degree the DS and that's a very large problem right now on the App Store. Consumers will get so scared of buying crap that they'll stick to the brands and names they know, which takes out a lot of the opportunity for tiny developers to succeed, something that has been touted as one of the App Store's greatest benefits. The tiny indie gems that we hear about on podcasts are great and those guys deserve to succeed but like gaming in general these days, it's the mainstream and not the hardcore that makes the big successes and most non-gamers I know who have an iPhone have Angry Birds, Word With Friends and maybe a few EA or ngmoco titles, that's it. My gripe comes from the fact that despite all this and what I mentioned in my previous post, the tech and gaming press gush over Apple as the new revolution that's going to bring the indie spirit back to the mainstream, where in reality it has most of the same challenges the other platforms do. They just refuse to talk about that because it's Apple and it's the new hotness.
 
I have found it funny that Apple has outright stated before that gaming doesn't matter to them, yet it's one of the biggest drivers of the iOS platform right now (well besides the current fashion fad).
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