We already know that investors are demanding Nintendo to jump onboard the smartphone and tablet bandwagon, but Reggie says that the company is currently thinking about how to leverage popular mobile platforms for marketing purposes. Reggie explained that Nintendo is mainly considering how they can give tablet and smartphone users little experiences which then drive them back to the Nintendo 3DS or Wii U.
“We’re constantly thinking about how to leverage mobile as a marketing vehicle. How do I give little tastes of content, little experiences that then drive the consumer back to my hardware environment?”
“That’s why we’re so focused on having content exclusive to our platform,” he said. “When the consumer wants to play Mario, Zelda, and Pokemon, they have to purchase our hardware to do so. And that preserves our overall financial model.”
Statistics provided by the NPD group show that children these days are ditching Nintendo handheld products in favour of those designed by Apple. The NPD’s survey of more than 4,200 kids ages 2 to 17 found that 26% play games on iPhones, up from 11% in 2011. By comparison, 25% of kids surveyed play games on Nintendo’s DS devices, down from 37% two years ago. The survey also found that 21% of kids play games on Apple’s iPad, up from 5% in 2011, and 19% play games on the iPod Touch, up from 18%. Some 23% play games on Android smartphones, a device category not measured two years ago. The Nintendo 3DS is only being used by 9% of young people, after being on the market roughly 30 months.
“Kids are engaged with mobile devices as less expensive tablets and an increasing amount of hand-me-down phones create greater accessibility to these platforms than before.”
-NPD analyst Liam Callahan said in a statement.
Nintendo appears to be of the firm opinion that bringing its established franchises to both smartphones and tablets would ultimately decrease the overall value of the brand. Nintendo says that it is confident that sales performance of the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS are steadily improving. The company also believes that you can not get the true feel of Mario or a similar title on your smartphone and tablet device.
“Performance is temporarily getting better, you can’t get a true feel for Mario on smartphone or tablet, and this would also lead to a decrease in brand value over the long term.”
Games industry veteran Ian Livingstone has told attendees at Bristol Games Hub that he believes that Nintendo risks losing an entire generation unless they decide to bring their franchises to other platforms. It’s already well documented that consumers are spending more on smartphone and tablet games than on traditional handheld games. Livingstone thinks it’s time for Nintendo to embrace this and bring their games to the mobile space.
“Nintendo should have their IP on every platform. Otherwise a whole generation of young people will miss out on their games.”
24/7 Wall St., a Delaware corporation that runs a financial news and opinion operation with content delivered over the internet, declares that Sony’s latest handheld game console, the PlayStation Vita, which released globally this year, is one of the worst product flops of 2012.
The company says, that while its initial sales were promising, the overall sales of the PlayStation Vita are poor, compared to the Nintendo 3DS, smartphones and tablets.
Also on 24/7 Wall St.’s list of the worst product flops of 2012 is another Sony device – the Sony Tablet P.
Released first in Japan in December 2011 and then globally in February 2012, initial sales of the PlayStation Vita were encouraging. By the end of February, the company announced it had sold approximately 1.2 million units, followed by an additional 2 million units of software for the handheld game console. Yet sales quickly declined. From its release date to June 30, just 2.2 million PlayStation Vita units were sold, far less than the 3.6 million units Nintendo 3DS sold in just its first month. Recently, Sony has clumped sales of the Vita and its predecessor, the PSP, together to avoid highlighting embarrassing sales figures. Frequent complaints about the Vita were that the $300 price tag was too expensive and that its game lineup was both weak and small, especially given the availability of cheaper gaming through smartphones and tablets.
Vice president of mobile development for Activision, Greg Canessa says that both Nintendo and Sony can’t ignore the looming rise of smartphones and tablets. Canessa argues that while you can’t get console quality experiences on either of those devices, you can get great games. These games cost a fraction of those found on Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita.
“There’s no doubt that that space faces challenges. They are more directly competitive with what’s going on in the tablet and mobile space and there’s a lot more overlap there, to be honest.
“It is a challenging market, and challenging in a number of ways. From a gameplay immersiveness standpoint, from price point and business model standpoint, I mean it’s $40 for some of those games and you can get great experiences – not necessarily comparable experience, but great nonetheless – for seven dollars on a tablet.”
“Our relationships with Sony and Nintendo are important and we continue to support them by creating games on both [Vita and 3DS] platforms. Beyond that the market’s going to speak ultimately as to the viability of those products.”
Out of a total of 715 games that were at this year’s Tokyo Game Show, 507 were for smartphones and tablets. In comparison, there were a mere 41 for Nintendo platforms – 34 for Nintendo 3DS, five for Wii and two for Wii U, which will launch in Japan on December 8th.
Games At Tokyo Game Show 2012:
- Smartphones & Tablets: 507
- PlayStation 3: 57
- Nintendo 3DS: 34
- PC: 32
- PSP: 30
- PlayStation Vita: 24
- Xbox 360: 24
- Wii: 5
- Wii U: 2
Despite the growing rise of smartphones and tablet devices, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata remains convinced that the dedicated gaming handheld market isn’t shrinking or vanishing. Iwata also went on to say that as long as the company can make compelling software for portable gaming machines that can’t be replicated by tablets or smartphones, then Nintendo will keep producing them.
“I think that if we are able to provide experiences on handheld devices that consumers cannot get on another device, then we will continue creating software and hardware going forward, and if it comes to a point when we’re not able to do that, I think, yeah, you will see portable handheld gaming devices go the way of the Dodo, I guess.”
“I think a lot of this discussion is based on the premise that the handheld gaming device market is shrinking or vanishing and I don’t think that is true and I’d like to address that,” he said. He turned to his MacBook Air as he began to cite some stats.
Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli has warned that current video game consoles face the danger of becoming unused as higher spec tablets become more and more mainstream. Yerli says that this generation has gone on too long, and there’s an increasing likelihood that gamers will reach for their ultra-powerful tablets, rather than traditional video game consoles.
“The current generations are drying out, and the longer we wait for the next generation of consoles, the higher the likelihood that they could fall behind tablets in terms of being the first thing people reach for when the time comes to play games. Tablets are putting pressure on the gaming industry, and taking over in some ways, so that should be kept in mind.”
According to Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, the Wii U will be released this year because “it’s going to be important for the world.” Iwata explained that portable touchscreens, such as tablets and smartphones, are common household items that consumers use on a regular basis. Iwata believes that the Wii U GamePad, which will be bundled with the Wii U console, will be an important device for people who use electronic devices at their homes.