Ngmoco, Y U No liek Nintendo Handheld?

Ngmoco, Y U No liek Nintendo Handheld?

Okay, I realize that the title of this article is painful to read.  However, that was my immediate thought when I read that Ngmoco thinks the Nintendo handheld division is about to implode.  In my opinion, they are trying to conjure up some publicity for their “free to play” mobile games.  Those games just so happen to be downloadable for Android and iOS.

Ngmoco Ceo Neil Young thinks that consumers don’t want to pay $30 for a handheld game, when they can download it for free on an Android or iPhone.

“The ecosystem that they’ve created, it’s just really difficult to justify spending $30 on a game that is anything other than a Mario, a Zelda, a Pokemon. I think that ultimately their ecosystem starts to fall apart.”


I almost feel that I cannot take him seriously.  Sure I have downloaded free games and became bored to death with them after a few hours of play.  With Handheld consoles I seem to replay the games over and over.  Not just for Nintendo either, I own a Gameboy advance, DS Lite, 3DS, PS Vita, PSP, and Neo Geo Pocket, each of which gets played over and over again.   Whereas the free games on my iPhone and Droid Razr get played a bit, deleted and then something else takes their place, with the exception of Final Fantasy I-III and Chaos Rings.

Mr. young also had this to say, “I think that Apple has done a number on Sony, and Apple and Android are now doing a number on Nintendo. What they’re really doing is defeating the Nintendo hardware machine.”

Here is my take on his comments.  Mr. Young wants to draw attention to his company’s games.  He makes a general comment stating that cellular gaming will bring down Nintendo’s handheld business (essentially rattling the Nintendo community), which draws attention to his games.  People will download his games to see why they are so great.  The downloads will boost their numbers over the next week or so.  He can then show those inflated numbers to the advertisers, who will then buy more ad space and increase profits for Ngmoco.

Maybe I am wrong, but it seems to be the route he is going.  What he doesn’t realize is that the 3DS, Vita and other consoles are a one time buy, meaning you buy it and it is yours.  Unlike a cellular phone which requires a monthly fee to use the service.  The games for handhelds can also include broader story lines, better game play and increased graphics because the storage is not limited to the space on your phone, but instead on the cartridge or disk.

Obviously gaming on mobile devices is getting better and may one day rival the big three, but I feel we are a long time away from that.  I don’t want to play Mario on my iPhone or Sonic on my Android, I want to play them on a Nintendo console/handheld.

What are your thoughts on Ngmoco and Neil Young?  Do you feel that his comments hold any water in the future of the handheld gaming industry?  If so, how would it revolutionize tablets and phones, would they all require controller attachments, built in controls, or is touch screen controls the future of gaming?

Essel Pratt has spent his life exploring his imagination and dreams. As a Husband and a Father, he doesn't have as much time to write as he would like. However, his mind is always plotting out his next story. Someday he hopes to quit the 9-5 grind and focus on writing full time. Currently, Essel has three published short stories and is working on a handful of novels. Essel focuses his writings on mostly Horror/Sci-Fi, however is known to add a dash of other genres into his writings as well. In his spare time, he can be found playing one of the 40+ video game consoles in his collection, especially his Wii U (NNID: EsselPratt). Click the links below to follow Essel's exploits in the writing world, and be sure to follow his blog at as well as his articles on


  1. I think he’s right. The current handheld business model is unsustainable given what is happening on mobile devices. Apple has changed the game, and although hardcore gamers may still do so, I don’t think the general public sees the value in spending that much money for a mobile game when Angry Birds is 99 cents.

    I know the argument—handheld games are deeper, longer, more involved. And I actually think that’s another advantage for Apple. Most people want a portable game to be a quick distraction they can jump in and out of. You can’t exactly do that with a big 3DS game—the line between console and handheld game is blurring. Why play Uncharted on a tiny screen while sitting on hour couch when you can play it in your television?

    I just think handhelds could become a niche product, eventually. I have my phone with me at all times. Why carry around a handheld?

  2. As much love as I have for handheld gaming, I think that Derek and Ngmoco are more correct here.

    Though, I think that advancing past PSP-level power in a handheld ended up being counter-productive. 2D games work excellently on handhelds because they don’t bother with having you admire all the work that they put into the environment. Even the PSX-level 3D graphics of the DS weren’t really suitable for gaming on the go, I don’t think. It’s part of the reason why most games on iOS/Android are 2D, along with the lack of control.

    It’s all about entertainment, anyway. If companies can entertain more people on phones, for more profit, then all the better. I just hope that we can still get some great handheld titles with buttons. Hell, just leave us Falcom, CyberConnect2, Namco/Bandai, and Squeenix, and I’ll be happy.

    Also, please don’t talk like that in an article :(. It was really jarring to hear ‘LOLWUT’ in the middle of an article. Especially given the context, it came off as very, very juvenile.

  3. I must say that I am very surprised that the first two comments are in agreement with Ngmoco. Most of the feedback that I have received, from pages that this link was shared on, is stating the exact opposite of Monkat and Derek.

    I cannot wait to see the debate between both sides on here!

    By the way, the “LOLWUT” was placed in there purposely to keep with the trolling theme. I am on the side of the coin that believes Neil Young is just trying to bring awareness to his company and games. Therefore, he is intentionally calling out, and somewhat trolling Nintendo. Obviously, he could have made the same claim to Sony but instead chose to call out Uncy Nintendo.

  4. I coach a bunch of teenagers. A year ago, they talked about mobile gaming more than handhelds. It made me sad.

    this year, we are back to talking about DS/3DS again, and console gaming.

    I’m going with the demographic they are supposed to be targertting and say that Nintendo is going to be OK.

    Oh, one person has a Vita to my knowledge. I’m not wishing death on that thing, I”m just stating what I know.

  5. Woah, hang on a second here… you actually own a Vita?

  6. I’m with you Essel, I just can’t take anyone seriously when the argue for phone gaming. There are a few key points that will always make a dedicated handheld the best choice.

    1. Quality
    -Quality, Controls, Music, Replayability. Things you know, expect and love from Nintendo games, are far and few between on mobile. Sure it may just be $1, but to find a truly great game, you will need a lot of $1 bills.

    2. Battery life
    -Just because your phone is always with you, is exactly it’s own downfall. How many times have you decided, “No, I won’t play this game, my battery is already low enough.” That is the problem, your phone is not meant for gaming, it is a communication device. With dead battery, comes a lack of contact, be it text/calling, or emergencies. A dedicated handheld, you will play till it dies, because it is not your safety net. It is for gaming, and until battery tech. vastly improves (2+ years at least from what I see.), this will always be a major detraction.

    3. Watered down controls.
    -I don’t need to explain this one really. No buttons, no circle pads/joysticks.. no accurate stylus = difficult gaming. There are some types of games this is OK for. Most, they are horrid. Imagine playing n64 titles with a touchscreen…. Even just NES… nightmares. Unless Apple/Android come out with a universal controller, that has free to use code to integrate it into mobile gaming… Forget about it.

    4. Lack of “real” publishers.
    -Indie games… EVERYWHERE. Some are great, some are awesome. 90% of them are one shot titles. What else does Rovio, or PopCap make? Do they have multiple top-notch games? No, usually all they are is one trick pony’s. That is NOT bad, it’s just a different market, from which nobody expects greatness.

    5. Characters.
    -Name 5 characters that you actually care about for mobile games. There aren’t any, there is very little depth to any of these games. They are not trending towards being larger, or deeper games either, they are remaining as they are. Brand recognition is a big marketing advantage. Though, mobile gaming.. seems to me like flash gaming at it’s finest, $1 a pop. It is a good business model, but in reality, the content they provide compared to 3ds/Vita is like… Youtube/Hollywood…

    6. Quality (I know, twice, it’s that important.)
    -Comparing youtube content, to Hollywood blockbusters. Sure youtube is cool, it’s fun, and has things Hollywood can’t/won’t do. Though there will always be a quality that Hollywood has, that youtube can’t encroach on… The $ invested, the time, and work force, and ability to produce a great end product. The equipment available, and much more. The same can be said about the portable gaming industry. As we can clearly see, these both have, and will get along just fine without snuffing each other out.

    These are all my opinions, so feel free to discuss whatever you disagree/agree with!

  7. Ace, you have some great points there! It is great to see people explaining themselves rather than just saying “mobile gaming sucks”.

    Also, I do own a vita and 30 other consoles. I can’t find myself discriminating against systems, although Nintendo is my favorite! If enough people want, I can compose a video of my system wall.

  8. Firstly, I think Hitokiri_Ace summed it up pretty well. The only point I may disagree with is number four: there are quite a few “big name publishers” in iOS-space (exclusively) and even other big name publishers working with/on iOS (Squenix being the biggest). But you are correct that there are no characters that you/we know, love, or care about.

    On a moderately related side note: I don’t think Nintendo has to worry about Apple/Android in retail space due to all the aforementioned reasons BUT, digital is a different animal. Besides the fact that Nintendo’s storefront/UIs are ATTROCIOUS the available content is pretty pitiful/abysmal (though this could change with downloads of full retail games which brings up the last point) and pricing is outright UNACCEPTABLE. If Nintendo fixes their pricing (never going to happen), makes the stores easier to navigate (could happen), and provides more quality content, both bite-sized offerings and full-retail gaming (which is in the works) it would be Apple/Android on the ropes.

    Parting shot: though not the work of Google or Apple, there are a couple of things going on in the world of tech that could change my opinion. Multiple companies have either already created or continuing to create products like this ( which are fixing the biggest problem, controls. If it was just one company or person it wouldn’t mean much, but I have seen AT LEAST five different offerings that are all gaining popularity, coverage, and traction; these a game changers. The other thing going on that changes the space (for Android) is the Ouya ( This product is going so viral right now, it beat its goal of (approximately) $1 million in UNDER NINE HOURS and Squenix has already announced a port of FF3 as a launch title. Things are changing out there.


  9. Essel, I’m totally with you when you say “I can’t find myself discriminating against systems, although Nintendo is my favorite!” The difference, though, is that because I can’t afford every console (and the fact all my friends own the others) I chose to only buy Nintendo, and play the others when at friends’ homes who own them. Although I don’t count PC games being against that decision, so I still buy those now and then.

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