The iPhone Will Never Overtake the DS
Right now, the DS is pretty much on top of the console heap, outselling every other gaming device out there. But wait, could there be another device on the horizon ready to de-throne Nintendo’s handheld? And could that device come from Apple? My answer to both these questions would be a flat “No,” followed by some uproarious laughter. Apparently though, Forbes doesn’t quite share my opinion. A recent article on the magazine’s website makes a thorough argument for why the iPhone and the iPod Touch could make its way to the front of the pack. Monday marks the day when the “App Store,” is set to open its online doors for third-party developers to to pump their software — games included — onto Apple’s gadgets. For this reason, some people believe that Apple stands a chance to overtake the DS
I have to say, this is one of the strangest comparisons I’ve read in recent memory. To me, comparing the iPhone to the DS is like comparing an orange to a pencil: you kind of have to dig for similarities, and in the end, who cares? I can see where the author of the article, Brian Caulfield, is coming from, but he seems to be conveniently forgetting a few points (listed after the break in a handy point format).
1) $200 or More
For starters, the most glaring difference between the DS and Apple’s devices is the price. The iPod Touch — the cheapest of the two — still costs around $200 more than Nintendo’s handheld. And with that extra two hundred bucks, you could buy plenty of quality games that will more than justify your purchase. Yes, the iPhone and iPod Touch can play music and surf the internet and such, but if those features are really important to you, then you already have a smartphone. Having the cheapest handheld and home console is a large part of the reason Nintendo’s success has skyrocketed. Apple could’ve maybe had an edge if their games were cheaper, but most of the prices revealed thus far have been in the $25-$30 range, just like the DS.
2) The “Kid Factor”
Could you really see a ten-year old asking for an iPhone for Christmas? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Kids may not know much sometimes, but they definitely know what they want (this just often differs from what they need). And let’s face it: despite the quality and sometimes more mature games on the DS, it’s still a device geared more to children. Seriously, just browse through any games section of any store and you’re likely to find a majority of DS titles that no self-respecting adult would ever buy for themselves.
Besides that, in the end, it’s not the kids who are buying these devices for themselves; it’s the parents. This might just be me, but I have a hard time seeing a parent just handing their child something that cost $300 or more for them to just walk around with. I’d give it a week before it met with a fatal accident. Plus, for the parents, unbridled access to the internet may not seem like such a good thing for a child to have.
3) Shovelware will still be an issue
Several people, Caulfield included, keep mentioning the fact that big-name developers have jumped onboard the Apple train, pledging to create numerous games for the new App Store. We’ve even seen some impressive examples so far with iPhone versions of both Spore and Super Monkey Ball. Most impressive of all though is the short time it took for working versions of these titles to be put together. This would mean that developers could produce quality titles for the system quickly, right? Well, let’s think about how a big game company is more likely to see that. On the one hand, they could put a lot of time into creating an intricate title worthy of critical praise. Or they could just churn out as many cheap ports and casual games as possible in the hopes of appealing to as many consumers as possible. I think we all know which method games publishers tend to lean on. It seems much more likely that the best games on the App Store will come from independent developers, with the majority of the App Stores library being lined with shovelware.
4) Motion sensitivity is a cheap peripheral away
The Forbes article stresses the fact that the iPhone uses touch and motion sensitivity, while the DS only has touch control. So of course Apple’s gadgets have a much wider range of gameplay options at their disposal, giving them and edge over Nintendo. I mean that makes sense. It’s not like Nintendo has ever released a successful product that featured motion-sensitive controls…oh wait, they did; it’s called the Wii, and it’s given them a license to print money. Besides that though, Nintendo has released games that allowed motion-sensitivity for their past handhelds through a simple peripheral (e.g. WarioWare Twisted). My point is, if Nintendo wants to add motion controls to the DS, they could do it without breaking a sweat. It’s something they know how to do probably better than anyone else in the industry. Hell, if someone can come up with that goofy Guitar Hero peripheral for the DS, this one should be a snap.
5) As always, it’s the games
Just like any console, it all comes down to the games. The DS has an extensive library of great games sitting on store shelves already. A quick glance at Metacritic shows almost 100 games with scores of 75 or higher. And unlike the Wii, third-party developers’ titles are actually thriving right alongside Nintendo’s. Combine this with the fact that the DS is the best-selling console these days, and you’ve got a lot of developers trying to release games for the system. The App Store could build a list of games in the future, but it will still seem miniscule compared to the DS’s.
Honestly, I could probably go on like this all day. Now don’t get me wrong. I am impressed by Apple’s willingness to open up their system this much, and I do think there’s potential there for some good games. But those games seems more like a service to those who already have an iPhone or iPod Touch than anything that’s going to bring about a huge change in the gaming industry. In the end though, Apple is still mainly about computers and gadgetry, while Nintendo is all about gaming.