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Nintendo DS sales crashing in light of iPod

updated 01:35 pm EDT, Thu July 29, 2010

Nintendo sees DS sales cut in half during spring

Nintendo on Thursday faced its first loss in two years as its own lineup and competition from Apple hurt its business. The company lost the equivalent of $288.5 million after DS sales were cut in half from 5.97 million a year ago to just 3.15 million this spring. The drop included a 33 percent fall in sales in the US during June alone.

The company blamed the shortfall on a lack of new games for the twin-screen platform: both Nintendo and third-party developers released about 168 games this spring where 278 were new on shelves a year ago. About 23 percent fewer copies, 22.4 million, were sold.

Wii numbers were some of the few positives of the season, as the launch of Super Mario Galaxy 2 and the new MotionPlus bundles helped the TV console jump 36 percent to 3.06 million systems sold worldwide.

The poor results may stem partly from the lack of changes to the DS. Last year, Nintendo had the advantage of the just-released DSi to buoy its results, but the DSi XL isn't considered a replacement. The existing platform itself is old and is still using most of the same basic components that were used in the original DS in 2004. Its upcoming 3DS is expected to change this as it will use both more modern processors, glasses-free 3D and a gyroscopic sensor.

Nintendo's performance is nonetheless believed to be affected directly by iPod touch, iPhone and now iPad gaming. Although the Japanese firm has publicly insisted that it isn't in competition, the growth of iOS as a game platform is known to be taking revenue away. It's unknown how many Apple device buyers are choosing one over a Nintendo system, but Nintendo game revenue has lost share to Apple even though iOS games are often just a fraction of the price of DS titles.

Company president Satoru Iwata is believed to have privately declared Apple its new main enemy as Sony's PSP sales have routinely been too poor to compete with what Nintendo offers.

by MacNN Staff



  1. lkrupp

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Do you think maybe all these big companies being beaten senseless by little old irrrelevant Apple might have dart boards with Steve Jobs' pciture on them hanging in their board rooms? Yes, I believe they do.

  1. ttyymmnn

    Joined: Dec 1969


    DS games too expensive

    I have two iPod Touches and one DS that my kids play on. I can get 15 or more games that the kids like to play on the Touch for the cost of one game on the DS. As with iTunes, the $1 download has cornered the market.

  1. JeffHarris

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Obvious Choice

    A cheap, plastic, one-trick-pony piece of junk vs. a beautifully designed and produced tool... that just happens to be able play games as just ONE of it's myriad abilities.

    Nintendo, enjoy your ever-shrinking niche.

  1. malax

    Joined: Dec 1969


    It's the software/brand

    My (pre-teen) kids (and literally all their friends) have DSs and lots of games. The attraction is not the hardware; it's the set of gaming franchises that are unique that that platform (specifically Pokemon and Mario, but a few others as well). Nintendo follows a similar strategy to Apple in that regard: use software to sell hardware and refuse to unbundle them. But they need to ask themselves: would we make more money if we produced Pokemon and Mario games for ALL platforms rather than using them to deferentiate our hardware.

  1. hayesk

    Joined: Dec 1969



    There are complete classes of games that just aren't suitable for the iPod. You can't play any game that requires precision (e.g. Meteos), and physical buttons will beat out touch controls for any fast-paced action games.

    The DS sales are down because the market is saturated. Wait for the 3DS next year and we'll see sales rise again.

  1. vasic

    Joined: Dec 1969



    To believe that the sales of Nintendo's consoles will ever rebound is hopelessly naïve. Before iOS platform, handheld gaming consoles were there to provide a very specific purpose - mobile gaming. This purpose is now quite effectively server by much more versatile and universal devices out there.

    In the years of Hi-Fi Stereo craze (70-80s), most manufacturers were building separate amplifiers and tuners. Today, you'd be hard-pressed to find them in any mainstream stores; instead, you have receivers. Why would anyone buy a separate tuner and an amplifier, when there is a single device that has both? Why would anyone buy a gaming console when there is a device that has great games, but also plays music, video, surfs web, does e-mail, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter....?

    The 'complete classes of games' are not really relevant. Handheld gaming devices are doomed to be very marginal market players for the fanatic fringe who for some reason demand physical buttons. The rest of the world will happily play on their multi-touch iOS devices.

  1. The Vicar

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Not open-and-shut

    I think they got it exactly right: there has been no change to the DS, and it's hurting them. I have both a DS Lite and a first-generation iPod Touch. I can't stand playing games on the iPod touch; it's an exercise in frustration -- the controls always either use the touchscreen (which is not reliable to the degree needed for games) or motion sensing (which frequently works in reverse). I would buy another Nintendo portable without hesitation -- but right now, the best one I can get will be the same thing, but with better network connectivity and downloadable games. Since I don't like multiplayer games enough to let it drive the purchase, and I don't want to have yet another venue to spend money on games I probably won't play very much, I don't want to buy new hardware until there's something new. The 3DS, on the other hand, really does sound like something I'd be willing to buy, and I bet there are enough people like me to give Nintendo a major boost when it comes out. The iPod Touch, though? Well, if Apple still refuses to add a camera, I'm probably never going to upgrade. And I won't get an iPhone until I can use it with a pay-as-you-go plan.

  1. Technoboy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I can vouch for this

    I'm a gamer and used to carry my DS with me frequently. But ever since I got an iPhone and iPad my DS has been gathering dust.

    The DS is an exceptional gaming platform, but the problem is just that I want to minimize the amount of stuff i need to manage. So the reason I don't use a DS anymore is the same reason I don't use a pocket calculator, electronic dictionary, music player, or GPS system anymore - I now have them all in the same device. No more lugging around an extra piece of plastic + adapter + stylus + game cartridges for me, thank you very much.

    Also the quality of some iPhone + iPad games is top notch, so the iPhone can indeed compete with the DS. Games like GeoDefense or Tap Tap Revenge or Super Monkey Ball 2 can match anything the DS has to offer IMO.

  1. zro

    Joined: Dec 1969


    In light of iPod?

    One is a gaming device with poor media support. The other is a media device with poor gaming support. How do the two cross again? I'd guess the 3DS is the major culprit for falling DS sales. Would you buy a new iOS device if you knew a newer, much more advanced model was guaranteed to be our within the next 9 months, 6 months being more likely? I wouldn't, and it's why I won't buy a DSi.

    Granted the pit of shovelware h*** that is the app store can get you a cheap, quick, mobile fix but it doesn't alleviate the core *gaming* problems with the platform as a whole. The major one for me being the impossibility of tactile memory with touch & tilt control only. Trying to play action games on an iOS device is an exercise in self-torture. Save a few bucks and flagellate yourself instead.

    If you have a DS do yourself a huge favor and grab a copy of Clubhouse Games. Nothing in the app store comes close.

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