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3DS and Vita Face Tough Battle Against Smartphones 138

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.
An article at the Opposable Thumbs blog looks at the struggle between portable gaming devices and smartphones with access to a plethora of inexpensive games. "...most games simply have to be 'good enough' and convenient. If you already have a smartphone and an hour to kill, plenty of top-notch games can be downloaded in a minute for a dollar. With the 3DS or Vita, you're being asked to buy expensive hardware and then feed it with games that cost $40 and up. Smartphones also present a compelling deal for small, adventurous developers: it's inexpensive to create a game for these platforms, and developers don't have to worry about physical storefronts, packaging design, or cartridge manufacturing. Sony is now pushing for a digital platform that relies heavily on downloads with the Vita, but Nintendo still seems to believe the future rests with expensive, physical carts. Trying to buy one of the few digital games available on the 3DS via the system's e-shop is a slow, frustrating process."
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3DS and Vita Face Tough Battle Against Smartphones

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  • by iamhassi (659463) on Tuesday August 16, 2011 @04:55AM (#37104554) Journal

    I kind of agree. Maybe the next step for Nintendo and Sony should either be: 1) Open the platform for indie development and offer an online store where people can submit games (similar to Xbox live games)

    Agreed. Apple has actually made a mistake in one department: the latest generation iPod Touch only has 256mb RAM [wikipedia.org] compared to the iPhone 4's 512mb RAM [wikipedia.org]. This makes many games that are compatible with the iPhone 4 not compatible with the latest iPod Touch. Most parents won't buy their children iPhones due to the expensive monthly data plans but a ~$200 iPod Touch is no problem, but since they can't play the latest games it's no good. Why Apple did this is beyond me but it locks out many potential buyers.

    But you're right about one thing: any gaming device, console or portable, better have a well-stocked app store if they want to survive. They better beg, borrow or steal to get developers to make thousands of games if they want to compete with Apple. Apple's App Store might not have the best quality games or the latest 3D hardware but they have millions of paying customers and those millions of customers translate into millions of dollars for developers. Raise your hand if you want millions of dollars. I thought so, so what does Nintendo have? Do they have millions of customers using their Wii Shop Channel? Where's the Wii Shop Channel millionaires? [google.com] There's plenty of App Store millionaires, [google.com] and that's what draws developers. Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft need to turn average joe game programmers into millionaires in a hurry if they want to survive against Apple. Honestly, I think they're SOL. App Store has been around for 3 years [wikipedia.org] and in that time Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft just looked at it with a blank stare while their sales have suffered while Apple gathered 200 million iOS users downloading over 15 billion apps and paying developers $2.5 billion dollars. [techcrunch.com] How many more years are they gonna wait? Really disappointed, it's like they saw the tidal wave coming and they sat in shock rather than move out of the way.

  • Re:No, they don't. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RogueyWon (735973) * on Tuesday August 16, 2011 @06:15AM (#37104956) Journal

    Yes, I think this is basically right. As somebody who would describe himself as a gamer, I can honestly say I've got little to no interest in smartphone games. In fact, I haven't even bothered picking up a smartphone myself.

    Thing is, smartphone games can't hold my attention for more than a few minutes. My handhelds get most use when I'm travelling - on the plane or train to my destination, or while I'm away. When I'm at home, I have access to a gaming PC and all three current "big" consoles - so unless there's a really strong handheld exclusive title, I'm not going to bother with a little screen there. And for an 8 hour flight - or even a 2 hour train journey - the kind of games you get on smartphones just won't cut it - and nor will their woeful controls.

    There's a lot of doom and gloom around handhelds at the moment because the 3DS is failing (and if things haven't picked up by Christmas, then I think we can start saying "failed" in the past tense). As a 3DS owner who tried to give the machine a fair shake, I can tell you now that the main reasons for this are:

    - A lack of decent games to play now (despite the nostalgia-fuelled review scores, even Zelda hasn't stood up that well to the test of time) and a lack of interesting games in the pipeline.

    - Game prices which are, I would estimate, 30%-40% too high - for both boxed and downloadable games.

    - Dire battery life which is inadequate for any trip of over 3 hours or so.

    - A 3D effect which is impressive for a few minutes, but then headache-inducing and nigh-impossible to use on the move. Oh - and which results in big "not for children under 6" warnings all over the thing.

    - A sense that in technical terms, leaving aside 3D, the machine is actually lagging behind the 7 year old PSP.

    - Rubbish online functionality, with an eShop that is a usability nightmare.

    - Less significant than the other reasons, but still not trivial - region locking.

    However, all of the above are specific mistakes on the part of Nintendo - not elements that are essential components of the handheld gaming market. Moreover, in the 3DS's biggest region of failure - Japan - it's not smartphones its losing out to, but the PSP and even its own predecessor. It feels a bit odd and worrying because the habit in recent years has been for Nintendo handhelds to Just Not Flop (TM), but it's not unprecedented (Virtual Boy).

    Sony will avoid some of the mistakes above with the Vita, may or may not avoid others and could possibly add some mess-ups of its own - but we probably won't know until much closer to its launch. The launch games lineup is, at least, much stronger, which gets around one of the 3DS's biggest problems. I would say the main deciding factors for the Vita now (given that price and games lineup are known) will be the price of games and the battery life.

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