Nintendo’s Satoru Iwata failed to endear himself to smartphone developers this week, after comments made during his keynote speech at the Game Developers Conference, to the effect that they are more concerned with volume over value in their games:
We want consumers to appreciate the premium value of software through our platforms. Although Microsoft and Sony are different to us, I believe we all share this idea 100 per cent. We demonstrate a high value of game software. “However, smartphones and social platforms are not at all like ours. These platforms have no motivation to maintain a high value of game software. For them, content is just created by someone else.
Quantity is how they profit. The value of game software does not matter to them.
Our industry has certainly expanded but it also gives me concern. It is difficult to gain true hit status. With such competition even being noticed is extremely difficult.
The majority of people here are creating games for social and mobile. I fear our business is dividing, and that threatens the employment for those of us who make games for a living.
Game development is drowning.
I happen to agree with the guy 100%, the quality standards of app approval are far too loose (while also turning a blind eye to blatant plagiarism), though the hypocrisy of his words absolutely kills me. Nintendo pioneered the popularity of cheep and nasty shovelware, and now that they are made to reap the whirlwind of their own devising they raise their imploring hands to the sky and cry FOWL!
Well isn’t that just bloody typical?
Nintendo nurtured the shovelware industry though its infancy, yet they still ran their Wii platform under a game console business model, hindering casual gaming’s full banal potential. Now that Apple have arrived on the scene, and opened their sluice gates wide to the rivers of shit which couldn’t even negotiate Nintendo’s emaciated approval process, Nintendo finally find themselves with a competitor capable of selling a cheaper and nastier product in greater volume to bigger profits. In short Nintendo are being under-classed, and find their market segment melting away.
Unsurprisingly gaming INDUSTRY ‘leaders‘ (read: Michael ‘soothsayer’ Pachter + Facebook app developers) were scathing of Iwata’s words:
Leaders in the gaming industry reacted negatively today to controversial comments made by Nintendo’s President Satoru Iwata at the Game Developers Conference this morning.
“Long-term, Nintendo is doomed,” said Michael Pachter, equity research analyst of Wedbush Securities. “He’s under full frontal assault by Apple.”
“He may be right, but then the 200 to 300 million people who play games on Facebook are wrong,” said Jeff Brown, the VP of corporate communication for Electronic Arts ”Social gaming as a whole aggregates into a business that is undeniably big money.”
Brian Reynolds said while Zynga has made huge gains since last year, it still hasn’t been fully recognized for its work.
“What we’ve done has permeated everywhere, but we don’t have the recognition from the old guard. The young guys — they get it, but the forces of the industry are living in the past. The longer it takes them to realize that, the more it will cost them to buy your way back in.”
A while back I attempted to pour cold water on Sony’s strategy of putting out an uber-balled multicore PSP2, please allow me the opportunity to eat humble pie, that was a statement made in full ignorance. Sony’s planning is impeccable given the market situation. While releasing a portable HD console may be sub-optimal in historical terms, it is an area of the market that smartphone development isn’t really able to touch yet. Sure the Unreal Engine running on a retina display looks absolutely stunning in Infinite Blade, yet I strongly doubt that we will see anything approaching the complexity of HD console games running on the hardware any time soon.
Sony has staked for itself the high-end segment of the portable market. Moreover, Sony’s forays into integrating PSN with the Android market will likely provide the PSP2 a new lease on life even if Smartphone development is able to catch up with the system’s capabilities over the next several years. Hell, the system is even made of overpowered smartphone parts, so a broad range of cheap downloadable software should be all but assured.
The 3DS by contrast is underpowered when compared to most of the current smartphone hardware, while competing for the same market. Characteristic of their online myopia, Nintendo have failed to integrate the 3DS in any way with the smartphone market, opting instead to stick with their mediocre DSIware platform. In fact the only useful application Nintendo appear to have found for the Internet is for keeping an invasive log of gamers 3DS activities which Nintendo may access at will, and use as the basis for remotely bricking your system.The only asset Nintendo actually have in their corner is the 3D gimmick, which appears to make every second gamer sick …
Any portable system is at an automatic disadvantage in competing with iOS and Android, given the Swiss Army Knife nature of the devices. Smartphone owners will almost always automatically have their smartphone with them, and so have to ask themselves each time before they go out whether they can be bothered carrying an additional game system on top of that. I can speak for myself in saying that my iPod Touch is the only device that I have ever used as a de jure portable gaming system, while my PSP and DS get used as mobile home consoles.
In light of this Sony have looked to the future and carved for themselves a niche of console games on the go + Smartphone content (potentially), while intransigent Nintendo look to tackle Apple head-on, a battle they cannot hope to win with $40+ games and lacklustre online content delivery.
The 3DS could very easily turn out to be another Game Cube: a system only purchased in order to play Nintendo’s first party titles. Nintendo have some market advantage in the consumer confidence given the rolling success of their previous handheld consoles, and also the fact that they are going to market a good ten months before the PSP2 is to début, yet they currently give the appearance of putting on a high-wire act over a yawning abyss.
Meanwhile, the game media pundits are beginning to loose interest in this thoroughly ordinary system.