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Should Nintendo make games for iOS?


There’s an interesting debate going on in the analyst community about whether Nintendo should make games for smartphones and tablets, specifically for iOS.

The argument for doing so goes like this: Nintendo’s handhelds won’t sell as well as they used to because we’re now in a world where everyone has a computer in their pocket, a device more capable of playing games than Nintendo’s. Who would buy a dedicated mobile gaming device when they, in effect, already have one?

Influential blogger John Gruber outlines his view, summarising:

It seems far more likely that Nintendo can produce amazing games for iOS than that they can produce technically competitive handheld hardware. I see no harm in trying both.

The argument against is that Nintendo will only thrive when it controls the hardware and software, just as Apple does. The markets are different and comparisons don’t apply in such a neat way, just as they don’t between the PC and mobile/tablet markets. Federico Viticci sums up the counter-argument:

Nintendo’s strength right now is that, once again, they can revolve around the fulcrum of portable hardware and game sales to sustain their operation, turn a profit, and buy more time to fix the mess that was the Wii U launch. Saying that Nintendo should shut everything down, go home, and start making games for iOS is an easy but flawed solution that just isn’t supported by the facts.

Marco Arment offers perhaps the most measured response of either side:

Nintendo’s strongest asset and greatest enemy has always been itself, its history, and its spotty record for making important decisions. Their hardware business is going to succeed or fail on its own, regardless of whether they release any smartphone games. Many people willing to pay a good price for a Nintendo iOS game would gladly also buy a Nintendo console or hand-held if it was good enough. And Nintendo still needs that, because they’ll make far more profit by selling people piles of $40 controllers and $25 plastic accessories than they could ever make on a $7.99 iPhone game.

The problem is that we aren’t seeing much evidence that Nintendo can produce any more hardware that’s good enough to compete with ubiquitous smartphones, cheap tablets, and their increasingly attention-competitive world of non-gaming killer apps.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.

The author of this fine article

is the Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in November 2000. Get in touch on Twitter @PhilipMorton.

  1. DJK1NG

    2nd September 2013



  2. coxy

    2nd September 2013


    They could be the new Sega!

  3. Nick Vracar

    3rd September 2013


    I don’t think Nintendo should make any current games on other systems. Their hardware survives on the exclusivity of their software. Would as many people get a Wii U if they could get the same experience on another system?

    That said, I see absolutely no reason why Nintendo doesn’t release their retro collection on mobile or PC platforms.

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