Nintendo handhelds

Nintendo DS

A time to celebrate for Nintendo fans!

It’s been 12 years since the DS was released. Happy birthday, DS. The Dual Screen was a revolution of it’s time and became the second highest selling console. It used a touch screen well before the reality of phones using the same technology had sunk into the mass market. The first generation iPhone was released three years after the DS. It was an innovative, entertaining and fairly affordable device.

I remember getting one for Christmas in 2004 and my parents were happy to buy it. Thank you, Mum and Dad. I was 14 at the time and the popularity for handhelds had hit a low for my age group. I couldn’t really understand why. Every second kid on the school bus would have a Game Boy in primary school. Was I just too old? I didn’t think so. The opportunity to have Mario Kart sitting in my pocket along with so many other great titles was too good to refuse. Unfortunately, my attention to play games was eventually distracted by another thing that entered my pocket. A smartphone.

Nintendo and smartphones.

There will be a lot of confused, dissatisfied customers for Nintendo. Super Mario Run has only been announced for iPhone due to Android being on so many devices. And then those iPhone users need to have at least iOS 8. Yes, an iPhone 4S (Released in 2011) can have iOS 8 but older devices will quickly lose support. The DS was released in 2004 and it’s last physical release game was in 2014. I can’t see Nintendo supporting the iPhone 4S until 2021.

Smart phones are upgraded at a rapid rate. Unlike the video games industry, smart phone companies are racing to release the next model smart phone. This will cause issues for Nintendo that they’ve never had to face previously. I can’t see Nintendo being comfortable with this.

Switch Skyrim

What’s next?

After the recent announcement of the Switch and a release date set for Super Mario Run, there’s a nerving uncertainty for the progression of Nintendo. Shareholders have been pushing for the Company to enter the mobile games market. Stock prices were slashed 10% after the announcement of the Switch. The late President Satoru Iwata announced in March last year that Nintendo would do what the Company had promised not to. Release games on mobile. But after the Pokémon Go effect it seems certain Nintendo will develop games on mobile for a considerable amount of time. Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing will be released early next year.

Price.

Nintendo have gone with a try it buy it method of purchase. Super Mario Run can be demoed for free but the full version is $9.99. The majority of mobile game developers offer a free download and have in-game purchases. Can Nintendo compete with this strategy? Nintendo would be crucified if it tried to do the same. The difference in price between a 3DS game and mobile game is considerable. If there isn’t a huge increase in sales volumes how will the Company sustain the difference in price? I know there are big differences in production costs but that could quickly change if gamers expect more for their money.

wii-u-gamepad

No touching?

The beauty of the Wii U was that you had a second touchable screen in your hands. The Nintendo Switch doesn’t have this. A handheld is needed as well as the Nintendo Switch. Sure, have some games for mobile but gamers need a dedicated handheld device. That could mean continuing support for the 3DS and pairing it with the Switch or developing a smaller handheld Switch device dedicated for portability and pairing. There’s always been something special about having a handheld device as well as a console. I can’t imagine being able to combine the two. Handheld devices have amassed an enormous amount of sales for Nintendo. They can’t simply say goodbye and dedicate all resources to the Switch. A competitor could quickly jump on to a huge market left in the dark. We’ll see though.

Are you happy with the Switch becoming your portable gaming solution? Would you still rather a smaller dedicated device?