Blog Post

Apple’s iPad gaming future bright as Nintendo abstains

Stay on Top of Emerging Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

The iPad (s aapl) gaming community is big and getting bigger, according to a new report from market research firm Interpret. Total iPad gamers number 8 million out of 11.4 million iPad owners in the U.S. alone, according to Interpret. It’s a growing community in terms of both straight numbers and also in terms of percentage of the overall iPad owner pool, according to the firm, but at least one game maker seems firmly committed to ignoring the opportunity inherent in that growth.

Nintendo President Satoru Iwata reiterated Thursday that his company is not interested in making software for iPads or iPhones. He told Japanese news site Nikkei (via The Loop) that in fact, such a plan “is absolutely not under consideration,” because in doing so, “Nintendo would cease to be Nintendo.”

Yet preserving what it means to be Nintendo may be giving up a key position in the future of gaming. “Collectively, iPad gamers are showing slightly decreased involvement with gaming on home consoles, mobile phones, and Nintendo handheld consoles,” said Interpret analyst Jason Preston in a press release. “These facts imply that iPad game developers and publishers can definitely reach a new audience on the iPad.”

The iPad’s appeal extends not only to traditional console gamers, but also to a growing portion of people new to digital gaming, says Interpret. People who use their iPads for gaming are increasingly older, with 40 percent falling into the 35-to-65 age group category during its second quarter 2011 survey vs. just 31 percent from its first survey period last year. Many more women are playing, too. Interpret found that the share of female iPad gamers was up to 48 percent during its most recent poll, vs. just 40 percent in 2010.

iPad gamers who are also console gamers also represents a shrinking percentage of the overall group.

It’s understandable sentiment that Iwata would want to preserve Nintendo as-is, as he’s been Nintendo’s president since 2002 and saw it through the flush years of the Wii and DS, both of which were massive successes for the Japanese-based game-maker. Nintendo has also been in the gaming hardware business since 1977, so it has a long history of making both systems and games.

But there are a number of sound business reasons why Nintendo should consider making software for Apple, including flagging sales of its own hardware, a shaky future for new and upcoming devices like the 3DS and Wii U, and the successful example of other companies who’ve followed the same path in the past, like one-time rival Sega (s sega).

Nintendo wants a comeback, and I’d like to see it get one, but with the release of 3DS peripherals that correct obvious oversights in the original design, and reports that the Wii U is facing serious technical problems, Iwata’s outright refusal to even consider iOS development seems like yet another backwards step.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Vincent Diamante

9 Responses to “Apple’s iPad gaming future bright as Nintendo abstains”

  1. Peter Woodaman

    you people are fucking retarted. fifa, nba elite, tiger woods, modern combat, nhl 2k, madden, dead space, among others are all games. not fucking simple apps.. clearly you people don’t have the technology

  2. Leigh Carrington

    This opinion is flawed. I like my iPad as much as the next guy and I’m a serious gamer. But the fact is that the platform has failed to launch any serious games that appeal to hardcore gamers. Don’t try to bring up Infinity Blade, or Spy Mouse, or any remake created on the system. Both Infinity Blade and Spy Mouse are casual games. Go read the reviews on them. Besides remakes, which people would rather play with an actual controller (again, read the reviews) there is no original hardcore gaming content on the iPad. The sales figures are early growth contributed to the hype of the platform. That’s all.

  3. I keep seeing articles like this and keep thinking how rediculous the conclusion is that iPad and phones are killing of dedicated gaming consoles. They ignore the fact that handhelds are just in a generation transition and home consoles are at the end of a cycle. They also seem ignorant of the fact that of the 130M+ DS systems sold, 100M of them are to kids and gamers who will not ever be satisfied with the shallow games and poor controls that are offered on these touch-screen-only tablets and phones.

    I do not know many kids who can go out and spend $500 for an iPad or any parents who would buy one for them. As a parent, $170 3DS makes much more sense to get my kids. I strongly believe that the 3DS sales will pick up heavily this holiday season. Nintendo systems and games have always been very seasonal due to their appeal as gift-giving to minors. They have a strong slate of 1st party games that will hold strong appeal to their core customer base and that will drive sales.

    Yes, they may have had around 30M in sales of the DS or Wii that went to a new group of casual gamers, who are now happy gaming on a phone or pad. However, that still leaves the large majority interested in their 3DS and Wii U as systems for kids, core gamers, and group gaming.

  4. they play IOS games bcuz there cheap and quick and involves hardly any brain power thats why there called casuals. they can probably create mini games utilizing the Pokemon brand but to go all in wouldn’t help.

  5. So… why? Why should Nintendo develop for iOS? Why should they bother making shitty flash games for 99 cents, rather then large, engrossing, and highly polished games for 40-60 dollars?

    It’s a question of quality over quantity, and Nintendo is learning from the mistake of the Wii, of having a ton of shovelware games that no one buys or likes.

    If Apple takes away the casual audience, the Nintendo will be left with it’s core. The people who have always played Nintendo games on a Nintendo console.

    It won’t be the people who bought Wii Fit, it’ll be the people who bought the Metroid Prime Collection. Not Wii Sports, but Silent Hill. Not Wii Play, but Fragile Dreams.

    And no, Nintendo won’t be printing money by appealing to casuals, but they will survive and thrive on their long neglected base.

    • Shrinking your potential market is almost never a good idea. Splitting your market can at times be good; for example, they could develop on iOS for the casual gamers and keep their hardware platform for the “core”. Right now they’re purging casual gamers that they could retain as customers if they would simply develop on the hardware those casual gamers buy. I think they have more options than simply leaving the hardware business altogether, while still merging with the “smartphone” and “tablet” markets. Personally, I would like to see what a Nintendo developed, gaming-focused Android looks like ;)