It’s happened again: an analyst has come out and questioned why Nintendo is not involving itself in the smartphone space. That comment was in response to Nintendo’s year-end financial loss, which was a first for the company, and predictably the Nintendo community is up in arms over the comment.
But here’s the fact of the matter: Nintendo is missing out by not working on smartphone platforms. Missing out on a massive opportunity, and in doing so it is being enormously irresponsible to the people who invest real money in Nintendo, the company.
That’s not to say that Nintendo should give up on its own hardware, or make its premier games multiconsole (I’m quite willing to have that argument that Nintendo should indeed get out of the low margin hardware business before the crushing weight of bigger companies ruin it, but it’s a debate for a different day). The analyst, contrary to the way a lot of fans have interpreted it, did not suggest that the New Super Mario Brothers 2 should launch on the iPhone. But there’s no reason that Nintendo can’t get involved in the smartphone business with smaller projects, and indeed from a marketing point of view, this would make a lot of sense.
Or Nintendo could build non-gaming apps that help people engage with their favourite games more deeply. Companion apps are becoming popular – look at what Activision is doing through Facebook with the upcoming James Bond game, for instance. The more engaged an audience with a game the greater its presence and reputation becomes amongst gaming circles. A Pokemon community app immediately springs to mind there as an example of something that would go down really well.
In neither case would Nintendo be releasing its major games and properties on the smart phones and tablets. It would simply be mirroring what its rivals are doing in the space. Microsoft has released Kinectimals on the iPhone and iPad. It isn’t releasing Halo 4, but Kinectimals proved to be a minor commercial hit on tablets. Activision has resisted releasing its main games on iPhone and iPad, but it had a chart topper in the Skylanders companion game. Sony won’t release an Uncharted game on smartphones or tablets, but that hasn’t stopped it sticking some PlayStation Network features on its own Android devices.
It would not be cannibalising Nintendo’s market share to use the iPhone, iPad and Android devices as a branding exercise. Indeed, Nintendo and its fans like to claim that there’s no competition between the iOS and “real gaming” on handheld consoles anyway, so by that very rationale releasing a game on the iPhone or iPad would not be an act of competition with Nintendo’s 3DS and Wii/ Wii U games. And there’s a very good reason to do it: Nintendo could use the revenues pulled in from its apps (and they would be guaranteed to be chart toppers) to fund further acquisitions or IP development.
|Bluetooth controller. Big problem solved|
For some reason, though, those that call themselves “Nintendo fans,” seem to get upset at the merest suggestion that Nintendo should act like an intelligent, responsible business. Much of that seems to stem from a personal distaste of iOS gaming, which is fine, but if Nintendo were to start releasing iOS titles there would be no requirement for existing fans to buy them. The millions of people that would buy the game, however, would give Nintendo the means to deliver even more games to said fan.
So, where exactly is the harm in this virtuous circle? And more importantly, why the heck is Nintendo so stubbornly resisting an entire market trend when there would be no real consequences to getting involved?
No, they really shouldn't. You're not thinking in the long term. The whole purpose of Nintendo hardware is to have Nintendo's exclusives. Why buy Nintendo hardware if you can get their IPs on smartphones or tablets? Not only that, but the highest selling game on iOS is Angry Birds, and that is about $50 million in sales. Games like Mario Kart Wii, Wii Sports, Super Mario 3D Land, among many others makes much more than that on an individual basis. Why would Nintendo bother relegating themselves to a market where having a hit game is a crap shoot *at best* when they can sell their own software on their own hardware and get greater sales and more money?
tl;dr: If Nintendo puts their software on iOS or whatever nonsense, the value of their hardware goes down exponentially. These analysts are hopeless Apple fan-nuts, people who are too ashamed to buy Nintendo hardware and/or want Apple to rule the world and dedicated gaming to be eaten up by them.
So sorry, but you're dead wrong here.
I never said that Nintendo should stop producing exclusives on Nintendo consoles. In fact, I quite explicitly said they should continue to product exclusives on Nintendo consoles. Just like Microsoft and Sony do. The value of Microsoft and Sony hardware hasn't gone down, so I don't see why people assume that Nintendo's would.
Those "analysts" are experienced professionals that realise that Nintendo is a business. Mind you, it doesn't require an experienced professional to realise the potential of a user install base of a hundred million or so. Considering how easily and cheaply Nintendo can get involve it is nothing more than stubborness that prevents them from doing so.
I never said that you said they should stop doing exclusives on their hardware either. *I* said that putting their IPs on other devices (not talking about companion apps, mind you) would cheapen the IPs on their own hardware. Again, why buy a 3DS for Mario when I can play "Mario" on my iPad? And Sony and Microsoft do not have IPs that are as famous as Mario and Zelda. They would kill for those, so they have no reason to not put their own apps on iOS or phones.
And most analysts are like the great Michael Pachter who is *so* good at his job. He wanted Nintendo to put out a Wii HD while the Wii was selling tremendously. Yeah, who cares about brand confusion? He also thought $250 USD was too CHEAP for the 3DS. He's the average analyst who is at best a short term thinker and does not give credence to the long term. I already made my argument on why iOS will cheapen the Nintendo brand, so I will not make it again.
And no. I said condescension. Not condensation. That is the stuff that forms around glasses and windows when it is humid. hehe
I don't believe a $2.99 minigame would cheapen the value of a full $50 game. In fact, as I said in the piece, I believe it would be a brilliant marketing strategy. Nintendo could come out and say "Here's the bite sized games, but if you want to play the real deal you need our hardware." If that $2.99 game is a lot of fun then people who may not have considered a dedicated handheld might rethink.
And if not, then Nintendo's still going to have a best selling app. Win-win. It would also make the investors happy, which will help steady the corporate confidence ship. Win-win-win.
I have my issues with Pachter. I don't believe he is a good analyst, but that's one analyst. The guy who came out with the quote I wrote this piece around was not Pachter. The typical analyst is very, very good at reading the market. Especially those analysts with investment companies.
And see what happens when I get frustrated? I type about water. 😛
I think most people would be satisfied with only a bite-sized game, at least the finicky and typical iOS gamer. They're ecstatic with Angry Birds, and that is as simple as you can get. So why buy another expensive device?
The typical analyst has been wanting Nintendo to go third party for generations now. The Wii is going to be a failure… The PSP will beat the DS… The GameCube will bankrupt the company… etc, so I don't put them on any sort of pedestal. I didn't mean that your analyst was Pachter. I'm just saying they most likely drink from the same pond.
I think the problem analysts face with Nintendo is that Nintendo continues to defy expectations. It's not that their data or assessment is wrong, as much as Nintendo has managed to turn things around over and over again.
Apple was much the same. It was virtually a dead company. It turned things around. Those analysts that said Apple was dead weren't reading the data wrong, they merely weren't able to see the future.
Of course analysts vary in quality and they will get things wrong. Good analysts (and in my experience, most analysts are good) are able to provide a better educated guess than people that don't follow this stuff day in, day out.
My frustration stems from the lack of respect that people grant to the entire analyst profession.
This is all very off topic now, but good discussion, thanks!
It's more the principle of the thing that I think people are angry about. Apple is the competition. Putting games on their platform would be like giving in to the competition. As superphillip was trying to say, the only place you're supposed to get Nintendo's games are on Nintendo's platforms. As appealing as it would be to introduce millions of people to Nintendo's games by releasing them on iOS, it would devalue Nintendo's platforms – whoise to say those millions are actually going to even think about getting a Nintendo platform, now that they can play Super Mario Bros. on their iPhone?
If anything, Nintendo should make a Tablet themselves. 😛 Or, you know, focus on making a proper and appealing downloadable service that can actually compete with Apple, Sony, etc.
Well said, and it raises a question I've been asking myself for a while now – is Apple really the competition? They supply hardware that developers use to sell games, yes, but Apple doesn't produce games itself, and doesn't have a single game developer in its company Group.
It would be like saying Panasonic's the competition because people play PS3 games on their Panasonic HD TV, or that Acer is in competition with Nintendo because people play games on their PCs.
While it's relatively easy to dismiss the PC game thing, on account of the market being so small, the frustration that these analysts are feeling is because Nintendo is being so stubborn in resisting putting a game on an Apple platform, when everyone knows it would sell bucketloads.
It's an interesting topic, nonetheless. 🙂 I do agree with you that Nintendo's #1 focus should be on fixing that online service, though. It seems like there's good progress being made there, it has to be said.
Well i think Nintendo should make a couple iPhone apps. Idk why they're being like that. They don't even have to put ALL of their games in the app store. Maybe just one like Super Mario 3 and see how it turns out. Why be so stubborn about it. I like Nintendo and i love Mario, Pokémon, and Zelda games and i would love for them to be on a device that ALOT of people have on them all the time. It wouldn't kill them.