Categories
Games

iOS vs. 3DS: Price Points

Tiny Cartridge reminded me of this quote from John Gruber’s most recent post regarding the 3DS and Nintendo’s level of doomed-ness:

A kid asking “What’s a Nintendo?” may sound preposterous to the ears of an adult weaned on Mario and Zelda, but trust me, put an iPad Mini and a 3DS on a table next to each other, and most kids today will reach, if not jump, for the iPad. If you don’t see that as an existential threat for Nintendo, there’s nothing I can say that will change your mind. A Nintendo that doesn’t make games for iOS is a Nintendo that doesn’t reach today’s kids; a Nintendo that doesn’t reach today’s kids is a Nintendo with no future.

I’d argue this is a bit out of touch; I don’t know too many parents who don’t see a big, big difference between a $169 3DS XL1 (or especially the 2DS’s new $129 price point) and an iPad mini that retails for a minimum of $329.2

I said earlier today that these devices are in different markets; the price points simply underline that.


  1. The 3DS XL is the model I’d argue anyone who wants a 3DS should purchase. 

  2. And I ask my children to save their money and purchase the devices themselves. They get $5 a week in allowance, so my son’s diligence in saving for his 3DS was commendable. 

Categories
Games

Nintendo, 3DS, Wii U, iOS, et cetera

Hey, so people are still talking about this, apparently.

In case you missed it, lots of people are discussing Nintendo’s introduction of a 3DS system (which is crazily but accurately called the 2DS) that lacks one of the main points of the system (the glassless 3D) just to drop the price $40. This has stimulated a lot of talk about how Nintendo is doomed. To many, the only way to save the Nintendo ship is for them to start making iOS games, and quickly.

I could link articles on this all day, but I’d rather keep what I have to say. Comments or questions are welcome. Salient points:

It’s too Early to Judge the 3DS (or the 2DS, for That Matter)

Pokémon’s not out yet. Diamond/Pearl/Platinum sold 18 million copies. Black/White and sequels sold about 15 million copies. They are still making Pokémon series and movies, and people are still watching them.

It’s not as popular as it was ten years ago, but Pokémon is still a force. I predict it will drive a lot of 2DS unit sales.1

Nintendo waited two years before releasing Diamond and Pearl for the DS, just like they have for the 3DS. Nintendo plays a long game in general—but in another segment, that’s not working in their favor.

Yes, The Wii U Is a Failure, and Here’s Why

They launched the Wii U without any compelling games and a split SKU strategy that made no sense.2

New Super Mario Bros. U is actually a really good 2D Mario game, but it’s not a barnburner by any stretch of the imagination, nor does it do anything unique with the hardware available. It was the only interesting thing available at launch that wasn’t available on other platforms, and other interesting games are only just now starting to appear.

The Wii U hardware itself is pretty novel and it has some promise that’s still not being exploited properly. It’s just that Nintendo hasn’t done anything to show off what it can do to the point that I’m curious what (if anything) they had in development when they designed the hardware.

For a company that designs hardware and software in tandem, it sure doesn’t look like it (yet) with Wii U.

Wii vs. Wii U: Markets Change

Nintendo’s other mistake when launching was courting third-parties to port (in some cases pretty old) titles to Wii U for launch. I just looked at my game shelf. I have a good number of Wii games sitting there, and not one of them is a multi-platform title.

The Wii was a weird aberration; an underpowered piece of hardware with a (then) novel control system. In many ways, it mirrors the original DS. Nintendo found a success marketing to people who hadn’t been marketed to before, and captured the attention of a consumer segment that until then wasn’t interested in buying a game console.

But the Wii launched in 2006, in a pre-iPhone world. Here’s what sold on the Wii3:

  1. Nintendo franchises.
  2. Mini-game collections.
  3. Rhythm games (primarily Just Dance).

In 2013, the Wii U suffers from a dearth of Nintendo franchises4, mini-game collections have largely (if not completely) been subsumed by iOS free-to-play games, and the music game genre has dwindled to near-nothing due to overexploitation.

Given the current state of the games market, Nintendo’s reaching out to independent game studios is a good sign, but it’s not a compelling reason to buy a Wii U instead of something else. Much like the Virtual Console, it’s a reason to spend money once you have one.

Nintendo should do what it did with the DS once upon a time: create compelling first-party experiences using their franchises to sell units. A new IP or three wouldn’t hurt, either.5 (Nintendo hasn’t created a successful new IP since the Gamecube days.)

iOS Is (Hopefully) a Different Beast

Making iOS games is not in Nintendo’s DNA and I firmly believe they will go down fighting before they publish a game on iOS. (They have already published an app in the form of the Pokédex.)

Reasons I say this:

  1. Lack of physical controls (a controller API for iOS does not and will not fix this).
  2. Race-to-the-bottom pricing and the dominance of free-to-play, which is a game I do not believe Nintendo will want to play.
  3. Handheld gaming is where Nintendo is and has been in the strongest position. Even during the Wii era, there were 50% more DS units sold.

Apple’s not really competing in the same space. I agree with Lukas Mathis that the 3DS and other game systems are not the same market as iOS gaming. The use cases are fundamentally different.

I do think that this new segment of mobile gaming is stealing consumers from the more traditional handheld market. They are taking those market segments the Wii managed to reach and siphoning them off; it’s questionable traditional game consoles will see them again, though not for lack of trying.

There’s still a core audience that will continue to purchase and use consoles and handhelds. I’m not sure how much longer that’s going to last, but you should want it to if you like games. Take a look at the iOS top 25 grossing games chart and see the types of games that are in there.

I don’t want that becoming the dominant force in games, and if you care about the form, neither do you.6

All This Distracts from Nintendo’s Real Weakness

Services.

(But that’s a topic for another day.)


  1. For the record, I’m bullish on the 2DS. 

  2. Nintendo appears to be fixing this bit I think it’s happening way too late. 

  3. http://www.vgchartz.com/platform/2/wii/ 

  4. So far, it’s Pikmin 3, a New Super Mario game and DLC pack, and an upcoming remake of an old Zelda game. 

  5. Marco Arment realizes this. So does John Siracusa

  6. cf. The Loudness Wars, The Megapixel Myth. 

Categories
Games

Minecraft Mass Effect Mash-Up What Now

I’m fairly certain this is targeted specifically at me.

I’m also fairly certain I will end up buying it.

This is a great idea—something that differentiates the 360 version of the game and does something fun with it. I can only hope it will also end up on One.

Categories
Games

Titanfall Gamescom Demo

This game looks crazy in all the right ways and I’m looking forward to it. A lot.

Categories
Games

EverQuest Next and User-Generated Content

Brian Crecente with a rather interesting interview piece with SOE’s John Smedley (among others):

EverQuest Next Landmark, free-to-play like all of Sony Online Entertainment’s games, hits this winter and uses the same building tools used by developers to create Next, but gamifies the process so players need to mine for material and craft, while building in the varied terrain.

That sounds familiar; not sure where I have heard about something like that before…

The solution is to create a game that uses multi-classing. There are no levels in Next, but there will be more than 40 distinct “professions” to choose from at launch. Each of those professions will have their own multi-tiered abilities and specialized weapon skills to collect and master.

Yup. Definitely getting some déjà vu.

Players can sell their creations to one another for real money for use, if appropriate, in either or both games. Players can also sell particularly good creations to Sony Online Entertainment for an “appropriate” fee.

“If we get one million people playing Landmark,” Georgeson said, “and ten percent start making things, and ten percent of those finish and ten percent of that isn’t crap, that’s still a thousand people making cool stuff. And we don’t have 1,000 people on the development team.”

I’ve got it! At some point, maybe they should take a look at the balance sheets for Star Wars: Galaxies and see how that went.

Categories
Games

“King Of Kings”

This is one in a series of images from Okami recently posted at Dead End Thrills.

Seeing games like Okami or Xenoblade Chronicles running in high-definition via Dolphin only reinforces to me that the Wii had some amazing art direction in its games lineup that was hampered by the low resolution of the system’s output.

Not upscaling when using backwards-compatibility on the upcoming Wii U further compounds the error. These games would look great with a little upscaling and full-scene effects love, but we’re not going to get to see it.

Categories
Games

Nginx, SPDY, and Automattic

We have the best systems engineers in the world at Automattic. They’re even better than you think they are because what they do is silent and unnoticeable, like ninjas.

They just keep the service running solid, day after day.

Categories
Games

A Better Kind of Penguin

He’s coming for you. With the spamhammer.

A little while back, Google made a pretty big change to their search algorithms with an update that they call the “Penguin” update.

Penguin was specifically designed to punish backlinkers who are using certain black hat techniques such as keyword stuffing and things like comment and article spinning. What happens is that these spammers are checking Google Webmaster Tools (or receiving email updates) and are receiving messages that their ranking is being negatively affected by spam blogs or comments they have left on WordPress.com blogs.

Then, we at WordPress.com get emails that look like this (my paraphrase):

We need to have our links removed from your website ASAP. Below are a few URLs where we found our links. This may not be all of the links on your site. Please ensure that you remove ALL links to our site.

After this they provide us with the URL of their site (it’s usually something that’s basically pure spam) and then a list of all the links they know of across the WordPress.com network. This leads me to laugh, quite often out loud, because:

  1. They have just alerted us to a spam campaign on WordPress.com and likely elsewhere and given us exactly what we need to investigate,
  2. They have just admitted to us spam comments, entire spam blogs, or even sponsored post content that exists on WordPress.com and that we are looking to get rid of anyway, and
  3. The best part about it is that if it’s not that bad we could just leave it alone, do nothing, and possibly punish the spammers more than if we were to remove everything.

It probably doesn’t sound like much to you, but it’s one of those little things that amuses me and causes me to enjoy what I do.

Categories
Games

Watch Dogs

This was the game of the day for me yesterday. The premise is sound and the gameplay looks to be amazing (though it remains to be seen how scripted it will be).

And some early gameplay:

I find it interesting that there’s a bunch of games that intend to play on our fears of digital control and data collection.

Categories
Games

Why Ticket to Ride Isn’t Coming to Android

Ben Kuchera, interviewing the CEO of Days of Wonder:

Hautemont joked that Google created a platform so open that it’s barely a platform anymore. The physical versions of Ticket to Ride are a specific size, and it takes a non-trivial amount of work to make that game fit well on digital devices with comparatively small screens. The good news is that with the iOS platform you need only aim for two screen sizes to hit 100 percent of all devices.

Things are not nearly as simple when you look at Android as a whole. “When you take [a game] to a platform that has dozens of different form factors, screen ratios, and so on, the work is not quite as simple. The question for us, it’s not that I don’t like Android… the question is how could we do that in a way that is satisfactory, and that’s when things start falling apart.” Everyone wants a version of Ticket to Ride that plays at least as well as the iPhone or iPad version, and they want it to run perfectly on their own phone or tablet, running their own version of Android. Trying to deliver the quality Days of Wonder is known for across all the variables of Android is simply cost prohibitive, and Hautemont has no interest in lazy ports.

Besides, there’s also the issue of customers paying for the game.

The Android ecosystem simply makes things too hard for both developers and users.

There’s something to be said for simplicity.