Friday, April 27, 2012

Is this the end of the (gaming) world as we know it?

Yesterday several articles came out about Nintendo's announcement of an operating loss of just under half a million dollars.

In many of these articles, the author's posited that the main reason for this loss is the iPhone and iPad. Supposedly, say these articles, the lower prices of the games in the App Store along with the lack of needing a second special device to play them makes them more appealing than Nintendo's offerings.

There's something logical in these arguments. People are becoming more and more used to having their iPhones on them and pulling them out to do basically anything and everything. They will even hand their iPhones to their kids to keep them busy out shopping, eating out etc. So much so that there are actually class action suits over purchases for bonus features etc that those kiddies did while Mommy and Daddy weren't paying attention. And yes those games cost a lot more than the typical iOS game ($35-40 versus $0.99 to $9.99).

Another argument in the mix is that Nintendo just keeps rehashing the same titles and who really wants yet another Mario game. This one to me is a bit moot when we have 4 versions of Angry Birds, Two of Fruit Ninja, at least 3 of Cut the Rope and so on. And these are just the puzzle games. It's just as bad when you get into the shooter/runner apps etc. Many of them are just the same game over and over with different characters.

There's also the issue that Nintendo hasn't really updated their hardware in a while and the latest iPad is barely two months old while the latest iPhone has just hit the half year mark.

I would say that the folks putting Nintendo on the death bed are both right and wrong. I think that we are seeing the end of the beginning for companies like Nintendo. But only when it comes to casual gaming. By casual I mean the folks that are gaming just to kill a little time. The solitaire and minesweeper types. The ones that keep a magazine of suduko puzzles on the coffee table for the commercial breaks. It also includes those little kids at the restaurant.

But on the flip side there is still a big market for more hard core games. iOS does have titles like Infinity Blade and ports of older PC titles like Myst and Riven (although the latter two have not been updated for the iPad). But none of these titles have the wow of a traditional game. The iPhone and iPad just don't have the power yet. Perhaps when we get to the iPhone 10.

In the meantime perhaps Nintendo should consider porting some of those older titles at least to the iPad. Just to keep their names in the minds of those casual gamers. Who knows after fumbling through Super Mario on the iPad perhaps they will be more tempted to get that Wii U with a 'real' controller. I know I'd consider buying. Running a Nintendo emulator is so far the only reason I have considered jail breaking my iPad.

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