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Summary:

Will Nintendo be able to sustain its dominance in the rapidly changing handheld game console market? That’s the main question I was looking to get answered when I attended today’s Game Developers Conference keynote from Nintendo President Satoru Iwata. And while Iwata announced a roster of […]

nintendo-logoWill Nintendo be able to sustain its dominance in the rapidly changing handheld game console market? That’s the main question I was looking to get answered when I attended today’s Game Developers Conference keynote from Nintendo President Satoru Iwata. And while Iwata announced a roster of appealing new titles and a much-desired “SD Card Channel” to expand the Wii’s memory capability, the way he presented the latest edition of the company’s handheld line, the DSi, left me disappointed. Speaking before thousands of game creators, Iwata had a golden opportunity to position the DSi against the Apple iPhone. Instead, all we got on that front were some cute demos.

Iwata revealed two games that’ll be available via DSiWare shortly after the DSi goes on sale here next month. Similar to WiiWare, DSiWare allows owners to purchase and download new content to their handheld, mostly from third-party developers, which makes it competitive with the rapidly expanding (and often very profitable) market for iPhone games. He got an American Nintendo exec to demo Moving Memo (tentative name) and WarioWare: Snapped!, two DSiWare titles that cleverly use the system’s stylus control and internal camera, respectively. Both look very fun, but I was also hoping to hear Iwata make the case that the DSiWare third-party game development/approval process is superior to that of the iPhone.

Since launching last July, the iPhone App Store now has more than 6,000 games. That’s quite an ecosystem of content with which to compete. And tellingly, one of the other GDC keynotes is titled, “Why the iPhone Just Changed Everything,” a sentiment which with I wholeheartedly agree. But Iwata declined to tout DSiWare as a better system for third-party development, so I’m doubtful his company has gotten that message.

  1. I’m not too concerned with Nintendo not wanting to compare itself to the iPhone. I own both and have never considered the iPhone to be a serious gaming machine. It’s great for casual games and low cost time diversions whereas the DS has always been more of a true game console. Let’s not forget that the iPhone has serious limitations as a true gaming console due to the fact that it has inferior battery life and more CPU intensive games tend to crash on the iPhone frequently (never had a game crash on my DS). I won’t think twice about buying a $0.99 – $1.99 game on the iPhone but ask me to buy a $9.99+ game and I’ll have serious expectations regarding playability, stability, etc. Plus how many $0.99 – $1.99 iPhone games would it take to match the revenue of a $19.99 – $29.99 DS title? I can tell you in the last year, I’ve bought perhaps 7-10 iPhone games and about 3-4 DS games. That’s about $15 versus $85+.

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  2. I agree. Iphone games and Nintendo products have different markets. You don’t get a 7 year old an iPod to play games on, you buy them a Nintendo DS.

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  3. Illusion of choices Thursday, March 26, 2009

    I also agree these two companies have completely different objectives and therefore I do not think they are considering each other as a competitor…

    But hope that new DSi will be as most people where waiting for

    Wait & See

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  4. Rusty Shakleford Thursday, March 26, 2009

    As announced at the 3.0 SDK release. P2P bluetooth gaming with IN GAME VOICE comes to the ipod/iphone in July. Most likely followed by a refresh of both devices, new dual core processors are a possiblity, increased performance, possibly by Christmass. Neither the current itteration of the DSI or the PSP will compare. That and the rumors of OLED screens, better battery life, and an App Store that shows no sign of slowing down (Madden, NBA Live) Crackberry’s eat your hearts out! This is going to be market domination on a scale not yet seen in this country, or planet for that matter!

    Buy Apple Stock!

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  5. This is another article highlighting Om & crew’s lack of knowledge about the subject. The first mistake (of many) was in comparing the DSi to the iPhone other than the “i” in the name they only have a superficial connection. The only overlap in there respective markets is when an iPhone using parent buys a DSi for there kids.

    The second mistake was adding hype to a market without understanding the market = “rapidly changing hand held game console market” … really? what planet are you living on because on this planet there is the DS/Light/I and the PSPI/II the iPhone is not and never will be a ‘game console’. None of the 6,000 games mentioned in the article will keep your attention more than a day or two, heck most of the apps in general for the iPhone won’t keep your attention very long unlike the DS/PSP games which can and do.

    It’s a bit sad to see a site this new slide into generic obscurity so fast. I guess it’s time to take it out of my daily read tab.

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  6. Why would Iwata need to make a case for DSiWare’s policies versus the iPhone app store? Apple’s approval process is a joke. No technical requirements; no quality control; ludicrous, opaque, inconsistently applied censorship – and as a result, a channel that’s drowning in crap. Fixing these problems is going to take many months of fighting a dysfunctional platform holder that is clueless and apathetic about the demands of the games market, and is going to result in few winners, lots of losers, and perhaps millions of customers getting burnt and souring their view of the entire platform. How do I know this? Because it’s already happened (on a far larger scale) over the past five years with traditional mobile games. Apple have learnt nothing from that market, or the consoles.

    Who is seriously incentivised to spend money on making a good quality iPhone game when they have to sell it for $0.99 and market it to stand out against 6,000 other titles?

    If I buy a game on WiiWare I know it’s going to at least work, and that there was enough of a barrier to entry to make the developers at least try to make something competitive. And so we’ve seen fantastic, better-than-retail quality products like LostWinds, World of Goo, Strongbad and Cubello. It’s a similar story on XBLA and PSN. I expect DSiWare will maintain that, which is good for customers, good for legitimate developers (i.e. not fly by night scam artists peddling “farting” applications) and no doubt obscenely lucrative for Nintendo.

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  7. Nintendo Ds faced a lot of competition with PSP lite lately but after the released the latest DSi version I think Nintendo DSi market started to look up a bit and also its getting more sales than its previous DS version. I am sure Nintendo are leading the way.

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  8. [...] and social-networking features, which have been painfully sparse up to now. That’s even been disappointingly true of the DSi, especially when compared with the iPhone/iPod Touch, which as a platform for games, is steadily [...]

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