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Some analyst and industry experts have been arguing over the viability of the console manufacturers continuing to push for handheld consoles in a market dominated by mobile phones. Well, the chairman of UKIE believes that Nintendo and Sony should abandon the handheld market altogether and focus on porting their content over to mobile phones instead.
According to Video Gamer, Andy Payne, chairman of the trade association of UK Interactive Entertainment, in a conference meeting in Liverpool, England, responded to a question about Sony and Nintendo possibly losing out on wider success due to IP exclusivity…
"I think it would be a massive relief to both Sony and Nintendo to become content-only. Right now, they might not even know it. You know that thing where you take drugs and you think it's the best thing in the world? Then you get off them and go, 'What was I doing?'"…"To answer your question: Imagine any Mario or Zelda property being on the iPhone or an Android phone. They'd get £10 or £15 for it, because people would want to pay to have it on their phone. They would. And that would be amazing. And Sony's content is amazing. I mean, Uncharted... it's just brilliant!
If you’re a fanboy and you think that comment kind of ruffles your feathers, keep on reading to find out what else Payne had to say about no longer needing specific hardware to run exclusive IPs from two of gaming’s biggest publishers.
"I'm not knocking those guys, because they really do make fantastic games. And when we kind of get that bit over, wouldn't it be refreshing to have Nintendo really making stuff for the iPhone, Android, and all the other stuff that's around?"…
Technically, Payne is right: If Nintendo and Sony went multiplatform with their releases there is a ton of more money to be made on exclusives. However, as it stands, the Nintendo 3DS seems to be doing better its first year out than the Nintendo DS was during its first fiscal year on the market, according to VG 24/7. So it’s not like Nintendo is hurting with hardware sales nor the software made for it. Sony’s PSP brand is no slouch either, according to VGChartz they have just over 70 million units sold and an industry in hot anticipation for the upcoming PSV, which would cause for a lot of market value loss if they decided to switch to multiplatform handheld releases for some of their exclusives.
While in some regards Payne’s comments make sense: garnering tons of cash from software releases across mobile phones with games like Mario, Zelda, Uncharted, God of War, etc. The problem is that whether Sony or Nintendo does poorly for a month or two with hardware sales doesn’t really change the fact that they still have a nice piece of the market all wrapped up. Designing games for a mobile phone platform that sees a new iteration about every three to six months also wouldn’t do much for trying to establish any sort of market dominance or continuity where the hardware changes frequently and the software is expected to be nothing more than a fleeting occupation of time.
That’s not to mention that most games made for mobile phones that sell exorbitantly well aren’t hardware taxing or complicated games on the line of Zelda or as visually complex as Naughty Dog's Uncharted series. Could you imagine Nintendo porting over a game like Super Mario 3D Land to an iPhone 4S just so that an iPhone 5S comes out and it’s no longer compatible with the new phone or it was designed for the new series but doesn’t work on the older one?
When making small casual games for mobile phones it seems to be a-okay. Every once in a blue moon there are games like Infinity Blade 2 or RPM: Gymkhana Racing that aim to push the limits, but these sort of games do not make up for much of the bulk of the mobile phone gaming stash. While Nintendo may be considered more casual than Sony and Microsoft, they’re definitely more core than what’s provided on most mobile phone devices and tablets, thus leaving their current position for that particular market would probably spell less success in the long run. Until games of similar quality to Mario or Uncharted start making waves on iPhones or iPod Touches, most people will only purchase small casual games for a brief interactive gaming experience but not much else.
One thing is for sure: we’ll be able to tell if Nintendo still has the magic touch when the Wii U finally drops. The big question will be if core gamers still support the Big ‘N and will the casual audience carry over with them into the next generation of gaming?