For any who still don’t view Apple as Nintendo’s biggest competitor, read this


Acutely summarized by 1up:

Some would argue that the model used by Nintendo is outdated; people would rather spend $0.99 on an app than $39.99 on a new game. While the average App Store game might not have the same level of quality as a retail 3DS titles, many are quite good — and even if they aren’t, users can buy another 39 cheap App Store games and potentially get as much, if not more, play time and enjoyment out of them than they would from one 3DS game.

Face it: Video games are now a commodity. Yes, you can still sell a brand-name game at a premium. But like Perrier water, just don’t expect it to sell as well. Unless of course it reinvents the definition of “game” – which doesn’t happen often (think Mario, Zelda, Wii Sports, etc).

As for us fans: We win! Game prices are gonna get a whole lot cheaper in the next several years.

Of course, games might get a little crappier too as a result. One could argue the same happened to music and movies after they were digitally commoditized over the last 15 years.

But overall, I think cheaper games are a win for the consumer. Even high-profile developers have been clamoring recently for AAA retail games that cost no more than $15-20. And we’ll soon get them, if not cheaper, thanks to digital, which further reduces the price of goods sold.

Moving forward, it’ll be game on… for less. What’s not to like about that?


  1. The demand of cheap crappy games is high, THAT is the biggest threat for Nintendo. And sadly it comes from Apple’s direction.
    I want good games, and I don’t have a problems paying full price for that. Sadly, “most people” think we should bow to “most people”.
    There is still good music, you just shouldn’t check the charts
    There are still good games, you just shouldn’t check the app store.

  2. I’m still not entirely convinced by the cheap app market in a purely business sense. I know there are a whole heap of independent developers making apps for iphone and android now but I’d be interested to see just how profitable they actually are.

    I have no idea in terms of cold, hard cash how much they make but I imagine they’re very hit and miss and I can see a lot of these independent publishers disappearing in the near future as they realise its just not viable as a business and the app fad fades.

    And while I get the point of you being able to buy a lot more apps for your cash when compared to full games, you shouldn’t miss the fact that 99% of the apps available on android are steaming piles of crap best avoided. For every Angry Birds there are 100s of other apps that will be deleted after the first play by most respected gamers.

    It would be a sad day if the full game experience provided by Nintendo handhelds disappears. Imagine a world where its just wall to wall mini-games…shudder!

  3. Nintendo have only themselves to blame.
    their own 1 st party games for wii and Ds are years in still at 40 to 45 euro’s.
    no other console does this.
    I own several consoles and handhelds and buy all my games second hand for ds.
    i would love to have bought mariocart and super mario ds for 20-25 NEW
    but 45 euro’s for a 4 year old game at times you must be joking …

  4. Haha Blake, your funny. You think $1 games on your mobile phone are here to stay? Remember when XBLA and PSN started? Remember the average price for a d/l game? Think about the avg price now. Yeah, way higher.

    Mobile gaming is just waiting until the crack addiction sets in. Then, they are going to add a 0 to that $1. See Netflix for an example.

    Also Blake, if you think Angry Birds is as good as a Zelda, Mario, Metroid, Star Fox, Donkey Kong, Monster Hunter, Resident Evil, Mega Man, Madden, Left 4 Dead, etc etc etc, then you are part of the problem, not the solution.

    The Apple Mobile Gaming thing is a fad, just like anything else. Gamers just aren’t used to fads being electronic. But that’s what’s hot right now. But much like Justin Beiber, no one is going to remember this in a few years.

    And if mobile gaming isn’t a fad, then Nintendo is going down. Which do you want?

    I say this wanting cheaper game prices, but know it’s not going to happen.

  5. There are plenty of good games available on iOS that are higher priced, yet still much cheaper than a Nintendo game. Sid Meier’s Pirates for iPad for example is only $3.99. Final Fantasy games can be had for between $8.99 and $15.99. And this is only the beginning. Better and better games will be coming to iOS. Nintendo needs to cut their 3DS game prices in half. I think Blake is right that games are a commodity now. There is simply too much competition for Nintendo to hold onto the status quo. Maybe Nintendo should start making their own Android devices…

  6. Currently, I’m buying one to three 99 cent iPhone games every week, and occasionally go for a higher-priced title I’ve been looking forward to (but, boy, do I regret shelling out fifteen bucks for FF Tactics, only to find out how frustrating it is to play with touch controls). Most get quickly deleted, but there are a few worth keeping. On my DS, I still play Street Fighter, and have no regrets about paying full cartridge price. So, I’m enjoying both worlds. I love the constant garage-sale-like treasure hunting in the App Store, and I love a good, epic Nintendo release.

    We’re all making predictions based on a worst-case scenario Nintendo’s created themselves: A high-priced handheld with very few games currently worth purchasing. I would still pay full price for a AAA Nintendo title. We won’t really see what’s up until the two Mario games are released this winter. Their sales, and their effect on 3DS sales, will write Nintendo’s future course.

    This is a fascinating period in game evolution. Adaptation is the key to survival. All this is going to end up with a very different landscape. Wouldn’t you love to be able to eavesdrop on Nintendo’s inner meetings right now?

  7. I saw games becoming a commodity years before many of you were born. Know what happened? The market imploded. Any sane person would be against games becoming a commodity. Cheaper prices for more crappy games? I’ll come back to gaming again once people realize how important craftsmanship is again.

    If you guys are satisfied with utter garbage more power to you, I’ll be enjoying my extensive collection of good old games.

  8. I feel that while $40 is a bit high, I have no problem paying it. It would be great, if I could get brand new Zelda for $20 like a movie, but if faced with the choice of having $80 and buying 2 3DS games, and $80 and buying 60 Apps, I choose 3DS. Hate me if you will but that is my choice.

  9. I said this yesterday but the downward price pressure that Steam, XBLA, PSN, mobile games have put on me have made me a more careful consumer. Gone are the days where I will plunk down full price for any game. Even good arcade style games I won’t spend more than 10-15 (for the console versions) on because of games like Peggle and Plants Vs. Zombies on mobile systems are dirt cheap and good. You can’t charge 29.99 for Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2 March of the Mini’s anymore. In this market that is no more than a $10 game (if that!).

    Unfortunately for game developers they can’t rake in stupid profits any more on low production value games just because the price of games are pegged at a consoles “going rate”. They’re going to have to make it up in volume and quality.

    Nintendo is in a tough spot because I don’t think they will adapt to this changing market quick enough. Their investors are already calling for them to open a mobile division and to release games for iOS. Just wait a couple more quarters when those same investors will be calling for a change in the board and CEO. They’re going to need extremely strong growth from the 3DS to hold them over until the WiiU and the WiiU is going to need to be a hit as well. Only time will tell.

    Everyone should be able to see that the market has shifted now. Clearly Nintendo has many more competitors than they had when the DS and even the Wii was released.

  10. Nope, sorry, still wrong. DEDICATED Portable gaming is one thing and apps are something else. Every now and then there IS a game that is sold for $0.99-2.99 at the app store that is great and awesome and fun and has a lot of content (and isn’t just a minigame expanded over several levels) but the case is that 3DS, DS, PSP and Vita games are in that console for a reason. Just look at FFT and the price at the app store!

  11. First off, don’t be misled. Apple is NOT Nintendo’s biggest competitor. Nintendo’s biggest competitor is the immense army of independent or low-key developers empowered by Apple and Google who have wholeheartedly embraced the freedom and ease of use that permeates the mobile game development environment. Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony are not being defeated in fell swoops by some other corporate juggernaut, but rather they are being devoured nibbles at a time by swarms of small developers (most of whom are console game veterans) who have grown weary of the corporate dictatorships and are now running free in what is now the ultimate haven for true capitalism and fair business. Yes, there are still rules and terms of service involved with getting products out in the App Store or Android Marketplace, but most of those exist to keep everyone out of legal trouble and to help keep a level playing field (unless you’re Amazon, apparently). The point is, though, that Nintendo’s business model is definitely obsolete and no longer practical. They have spent far too much on developing gimmicks and virtually nothing on enabling developers or catering to their customers.

  12. $40 for a portable game is a bit high, and I really want to know what PS Vita games are going to cost. Honestly Nintendo should have priced the 3DS games $30 to $35.

  13. Hmm… Well, I don’t think there’s ever been a time in history that price has gone down and quality went up. I dislike rising game prices too, but making them worse/smaller/less content for less? Nope, Apple’s got that market, why saturate it.

    Also, I’m disliking you less as of late Blake. Still, you kinda reek of negativity. lol You hate on rpg’s though… it’s ok, we can’t ALL be perfect :). Though… It’s about all I can do to not rant about the lack of games right now. It’s so bad, I’m playing FF13 on my 360 (borrowed the game from my bro).

    tl;dr Shiggy! I need Paper Mario/Mario 3d Land/Skyward Sword stat!

    Dear Internet,

    Your mom called, and told me to give you this message. “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

  14. Sorry Blake, but I believe XCWarrior is correct

  15. Pfft. If App games are a competitor then so are flash games on the internet(Mind you, most App games are copys of FREE flash games on the internet*cough*AngryBirds*cough*).

    1$ is a quite a good price point for something unoriginal, stolen and to be quite frank, didn’t take much time or money to make. Where as 30-50$ is a good price-point for something original, new, with loads more content and for something that took years to develop.

  16. I’ve always believed that entertainment dollars are zero sum. If every industry keeps raising prices someone, somewhere is going to have to give. I’d say that cutting out the dedicated game player is one way to free up some entertainment money.

  17. I’m all for Nintendo games on mobile platforms like Android and iOS devices, but I’m also on the thought that Nintendo shouldn’t abandon dedicated gaming platforms. If anything, it would bring more people into Nintendo products that would “graduate” from the games on the mobile platform to a DS or a Wii. I don’t think people who buy handhelds will stop buying them for there are smaller games on digital mobile platforms that serve as appetizers for bigger games. A WarioWare on iOS would be sick.

  18. Apple is everyones biggest competitor, not just nintendo’s. They’ve found success in every industry they’ve gone. Just ask motorola, rim and nokia. How many mp3 player manufacturers died? How are those PC sales going? This is not a nintendo problem. Handheld gaming systems are obviously what they’re after right now. Who’s to say they won’t include apps on their next apple tv and go after consoles? Or just build tv’s altogether with all functionality built in? Sony must be shaking in their boots.

    Angry birds….the most overrated video game in history. There are some good iOS games, but birds ain’t one of them.

  19. @Ac, you are so right about Angry Birds. Overrated junk. I get bored after 2 minutes with that game.

  20. First of all, Apple does not have exclusive rights to selling cheap crappy games. Don’t forget Nintendo has the 3DS eShop full of cheap games, and they’ve been offering them for years on the DSi and Wii as well. If all you want is cheap random games, Nintendo has you covered too.

    But they also offer the premium games that are made with care, and provide deep meaningful gameplay, which are not possible to play on an Apple device. Games like Zelda, Mario, and Metroid are just too complex to work on a simple touch screen device that lacks buttons. So Nintendo can provide the best of both worlds: cheap simplistic games, and advanced deep games.

  21. This is why Nintendo’s chasing of “casuals” was so short lived. These people treat video games like Cabbage Patch dolls or beanie babies. They aren’t in it for the games, they are in it for the next “it” thing.

    Now, finding something to do with your phone other than making calls is a nice diversion in the wake of Angry Birds. I suspect that in the future, the phone game market will contract a bit and find a nice middle ground of slightly higher prices and slightly higher quality.

    Still, the genie is out of the bottle, games have a lowered floor now, you need to have a tiered pricing scheme that more accurately reflects the value of portable games. It’s possible some games will be worth $40 (maybe that new Metal Gear 3DS?), but others have no business costing anywhere near that, and if the cartridge medium is keeping the price high, then Nintendo may need to address that.

  22. I agree with the general sentiment here about iOS games. I have been using iOS since the App Store debuted (which, for those who don’t remember, was not when the iPhone first launched) and have used it on both the iPhone and iPad. That having been said, I can count on one hand the number of games I have purchased for the these devices (and none of which were for $0.99). Two of the games that I have purchased, while completely satisfied with the purchase, would not have had so much play time were in not for the addition of regular, new, FREE content with updates.

    Compare this with the 2009-2010 Club Nintendo year where my DS purchases ALONE propelled me into Platinum status member. Compare this to the launch game I bought for my 3DS, Samurai Warriors: Chronicles (which I feel is the most over-looked, underrated launch game for the system) which did not even get taken out of my system until about two weeks ago when I finally decided to open my Pokemon White.

    Both games mentioned above are good examples of competition for iOS style games anyways: I play(ed) SW:C for about 20 minutes at a time 3-5 sessions per day and Pokemon White is pretty easy to pick up and play for anything from 5 minutes to multiple hours at a time. How many iOS games support that much continuous play? Most games are worth about five minutes at a time, if that, once or twice per day, max. (Yes, I know there are exceptions, but they are just that: the exception and not the rule.)

    Comparing full-priced 3DS games to iOS software really is comparing apples to oranges. If Nintendo wants to compete with Apple (and iOS “games”) they already have the system in place to do so (the eShop) and here I COMPLETELY agree with a drop in price. This is not the only thing Nintendo needs to do, but it’s a good start. Pricing on the eShop should look more like this: VC games $0.99, regardless of system, and prices from $0.99 – whatever for new/original content. Even if that is the only change made Nintendo would begin to crush the iOS game offerings.

  23. Oh, and Richard, thanks for the warning about FFT for iOS: I WAS really interested in this, but glad to hear that holding off was good (guess I’ll just stick with my PSP War of the Lions).

  24. Infendo trolling AGAIN for the fifth time in a row.

  25. so are we saying that the market has shifted to servicing the more casual game consumers?

    /rhetorical question

  26. typical Blake post

  27. As far as dedicated consoles go, I hope they survive. Consoles offer better performance than an identically priced PC would offer. Also since they are dedicated to gaming only, there are no background processes running which might negatively affect your gameplay. No blue screen of death that you will have to troubleshoot if something doesn’t work right. No mess of settings to make sure your gameplay experience is optimized for your system. It just works. Plug and Play baby! I do hope optical discs go the way of the Dodo bird. For the best dependability and durability games should be on memory cards. I believe fans of quality want dedicated home and handheld consoles.

    Having said that, I agree with those who think Nintendo and other console makers would benefit from publishing games on other platforms such as iOS. They need the exposure. Imagine a Nintendo game like Zelda with a persistent world like WoW. That could be cool too! I would hope Zelda online would reward co-operation and penalize competition. Thank you for listening to my ramblings.

  28. Yes, I’ve bought a $60 PS3 game in the last month. Yes I bought 2 3DS games since June (although, I sold one the next day for less than half what I paid for it — I won’t say which game).

    Of all that, what game have I put the most hours in? Tiny Tower on iOS – Free. Even with the option of micro transactions, I’ve not put a penny into it. My tower is currently the not-so-tiny 76 levels high.

    Yes, I agree that most free and 99 cents apps are crap. But there are some that will make me put more hours in than Zelda and Catherine combined.

  29. Why does it have to be either 99¢ or $40 for a portable game?? Can’t Nintendo and 3rd party developers settle on a $20 – $25 price range for 3DS catridges? I think that would be about right…