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Nintendo chief slams iPhone, Android for devaluing games

updated 08:15 am EST, Thu March 3, 2011

Nintendo's Iwata says iPhone, Android hurt games

Nintendo chief Satoru Iwata during his Game Developers Conference talk later on Thursday attacked the iPhone, and to a lesser extent Android, over their effect on gaming. He consciously avoided mentioning Apple or Google by name but was critical of them since gaming was strictly incidental and they had "no motivation" to keep the value up. About 92 percent of games on these platforms were free, he said, and they risked taking important income out of the business where the 3DS and DSi would keep it afloat.

"The value of games does not matter to them," Iwata complained. "The fact is, what we produce is value, and we should protect it."

Console makers, including Nintendo's long-time opponents Microsoft and Sony, might have "some differences" in their practices but always put gaming as the top priority, he said. All of them have downloadable game portals, such as Nintendo's WiiWare or Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade, but these have sometimes been secondary and still usually cost more than mobile games.

The comments nonetheless are a rare public acknowledgment from Nintendo of the effect of the iPhone and iPod touch on its sales. Although in part attributable to customers holding off for the 3DS, DSi sales fell sharply year-over-year in December by about 800,000 units, suggesting that at least some of those who had passed on the DSi were using their phone or a multi-role device like the iPad or iPod touch instead.

Iwata's comments also sidestepped many of the factors that often force traditional game prices upwards. Nintendo despite its Internet services is dependent on cartridge-based game sales at retail, and its developers have to both account for manufacturing and for the cut demanded by retail stores. Android and iOS developers are only bound by the revenue split with Apple or Google and often have much reduced overhead. A typical 3DS game in the US will cost $40 where most smartphone-class games cost $10 or less, even when they represent direct ports of DSi titles.

Sony Ericsson's Xperia Play may challenge Iwata's assumptions, since it will push console-quality games, including PlayStation 1 ports, and might still have lower game prices.

Gaming is still the central feature of the 3DS. Nintendo is nonetheless focusing less on it than in the past with 3D photography an important element and 3D Netflix movies coming this summer. [via AllThingsD]

by MacNN Staff



  1. Parky

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Typical moaners!
    If you want to exist then compete, otherwise get out of the way.
    These companies have had it all thier own way for years, over charging for games to cover the hardware sales. Well guess what, the world has changed.

  1. Sukoshi

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Dear Apple,

    Your innovation, hard work, and determination are cutting into our profit. This space is reserved for our business only. Please, leave, as it belongs to us, not you. Our research shows customers want to pay more than what you are charging. Things were fine the way they were. If we wanted to innovate, or work hard, or be determined to make our products the best, and differentiate our products so that there is a perception of greater value, we would have done so. I am not certain why you didn't see just how obvious it was that we didn't want the competition. Now, back to your seat, and behave.


    Satoru Iwata

  1. starwarrior

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Media Moguls Gone

    Music, Movies and Games have all become commodities. The people will decide the good from the bad. The moguls that created fortunes from deciding for us will be gone. The problem is how to find the good media and reward the creative talents that create them. Something like iTunes as the enabler will be the way.

  1. Ted L. Nancy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    what you produce

    are GAMES, which are not "value"

  1. DeezNutts

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Times change

    Times change and as a company you have to change with them.

    Nintendo is a h*** of a company, in the video game industry they are innovators much like apple has been in technology over the years.

    Nintendo is known for changing the way games are played, and the industry itself more than once.
    Nintendo moved past Cartridges after the N64, they can do the same in the hand held space.

    I understand what the guy is saying, but that does not change the situation.

    They need to adapt.

  1. coffeetime

    Joined: Dec 1969


    The third CEO whiner

    Welcome to the 2011 CEO Whining Club, Satoru Iwata. First it was Netgear CEO, second, it was the Nokia CEO, now, the Nintendo CEO. Wonder who will be the fourth CEO be for the month of April?

    Comment buried. Show
  1. TheAppleFreak

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I applaud Nintendo

    It's about time that Nintendo said this. As a hardcore gamer, I've been increasingly annoyed at how many casual games have been flooding the market, and although they are fun for a little bit, they are not able to substitute for a real game. Sadly, the popularity of them is really dragging the market down.

    Long live Mario, Link, Pikachu, Master Chief, et al!

  1. Foe Hammer

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Almost ...

    Sadly, the popularity of them is really dragging the market down.

    Or more to the point: Sadly, the popularity of them is really dragging THEIR market down. The market for casual games seems to be booming. To echo Deez: adapt!

  1. bazaarsoft

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Disruptive Technologies

    The term was coined for a reason. I guess he's completely missed the irony that Nintendo, which itself had disruptive technology with the original NES and, perhaps to a lesser degree with the GameBoy and Wii, is falling victim to someone else's disruptive technology.

    What's really being disrupted here is all the middlemen in the game development market - the platform vendor's get a cut for SDKs and some marketing, the publisher gets a cut, etc. Now game developers can sell directly with very little startup cost. Cuts out the middlemen.

    Sound familiar? Same thing happened to the music industry, is happening to Hollywood, wiped out the print news periodicals, and is happening to the publishing industry. Disruptive Technology always does that - rewrites the rules for the industries that it touches. What's really interesting though is how close together all of these disruptions have occurred - within a decade of each other all these industries with long-standing practices have been disrupted.

  1. ggirton

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Never never never

    was the famous line more appropriate than now ...



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