Death By A Thousand Cuts: The iPhone Is Killing Nintendo

Death By A Thousand Cuts: The iPhone Is Killing Nintendo

No one wants to buy a Nintendo 3DS when they have hundreds of thousands of games in their pocket already. Mario knows that.

Apple’s iOS devices have been stealing market share from portable consoles since the day the App Store opened its doors. Four years later, they have led Nintendo to report its first ever annual operating loss of $454.4 million.

Of course, the fact that the Japanese company hasn’t released a new console in nearly six years has also helped contribute to its $454.4 million loss between 2011 and 2012. But the company’s biggest problem is that its latest handheld, the Nintendo 3DS, just hasn’t taken off as it had hoped.

The portable’s launch was dismal, and Nintendo admitted that there just weren’t enough big titles available at launch to provide the device with a successful start. Just several months after its release, Nintendo slashed the price of the 3DS to just $169.99 in an effort to improve its sales figures, but the console is still struggling to build up any momentum.

It’s not that the Nintendo 3DS is a terrible console; the device builds upon the success of its predecessors by introducing glasses-free 3D technology and processing power that “far exceeds the Nintendo Wii.” It’s that Apple’s devices are, well, better… in so many ways.

Apple’s record-breaking quarter — thanks mostly to the iPhone — proves that iOS devices are selling faster than anyone had ever predicted. And of course, one of the most appealing things about an iOS device is its App Store, which provides access to over half a million titles.

It’s never been easier to access such a library of mobile titles, many of which rival — and often even exceed — those played on dedicated handheld consoles. And with prices starting at $0.99 and rarely exceeding $5, there’s just no reason to spend $35 on a game that you need yet another device to play. Your iPhone is already in your pocket.

Nintendo is now targeting yet another reduction for the 3DS with hopes that it can turn things around. It is also has a new console, the Wii U, set to launch within the next year.

But I know one way the company could make big bucks, and fast: Swallow its pride and bring Super Mario to iOS. Come on, Nintendo!

[via TUAW]

  • Seoung

    It’s time for Nintendo to “If you can’t beat them, join them.”
    Once Nintendo makes apps for iOS and bring Zelda, Mario, and all the old school game to iPhone & Android. They will sell so many apps and make lot of money fast.

  • RonBlatto

    I am an Apple fanboy who recently purchased a PS Vita. The dual analog sticks has me convinced that, while I spend plenty of money on iOS apps, it will never fully replace my gaming wants. I can’t even imagine trying to play Golden Abyss without analog sticks and I don’t want bulky peripherals for my iOS device. I just downloaded Marvel vs Capcom 2 on iOS and that was a nightmare. I don’t know what the future holds for Nintendo but I’m sure they could have kept their brand, image, and profitability if they would release JUST the classics on iOS. Keep the new headliners for their own devices and give us Super Metroid (with digital controller on the touch screen).

  • Stephen Gibson Agnew

    The iPhone is in no way a replacement for a handheld gaming device. For games that require a directional pad, the iphone’s touch screen is nowhere near as good as the physical d-pad on a gaming device or analog stick.

    BTW, 3DS sales have increased by a large margin as of late.

  • Weegie_Mac

    The problem Nintendo have had for years is that it’s gaming portfolio is far too repetitive when releasing a new console or handheld. People are bored of the same stable: Mario, Mario Kart, Zelda, Metroid, and even recently GoldenEye and Donkey Kong Country. Nintendo have no fresh ideas, they’ve gone stale and have no new franchises to push in the modern gaming era. I can’t help but shake my head when I see ads for the Wii that promote Donkey Kong Country … we’re talking a SNES game here, from the early 90’s.

    Come on Nintendo, get some new IPs before you go the way of SEGA.

  • Blake Beavers

    And then the Wii U comes out and destroys everything

  • Weegie_Mac

    The Wii U won’t destroy anything if it’s main releases are ANOTHER Mario, ANOTHER Mario Kart, ANOTHER Zelda, ANOTHER Metroid, ANOTHER Donkey Kong, etc. Nintendo ARE stale, that’s not even an opinion it’s fact. They need new IP’s or they will go the way of SEGA.

    Nintendo need to look at the Wii the way SEGA did with the Saturn and make the Wii U the same as the Dreamcast … completely reinvent their IP’s and bring something fresh to their platform (like SEGA did with Shenmue). Let’s just hope for Nintendo’s sake that like the Dreamcast, it’s not too much too late.

  • benandarchie

    I don’t like app store games bacause they don’t have impressive concepts and it makes it obvious that no effort has actually gone into them. The DS was a massive success it has sold over 150 million units thats almost as much as all iOS devices ever. This is completely out of date 3DS is selling tremendously at the moment. Plus back in mid-2011 the 3DS had like 2 good games. Plus back then the DS actually sold more than the 3DS.

  • Charlie Maib

    Killian, man, where are you getting your information?

    The Nintendo 3DS is the fastest selling system handheld in the world, ever. It reached that milestone in February. In Japan alone, they’re moving more than 64,000 units a week… that’s 47,000 more systems than the #2 best seller, the PlayStation 3. The 3DS is shaping up to be another success for Nintendo.

    You fail to mention in your posting that the majority of Nintendo’s losses stem from the devaluation of the dollar against the yen, which pretty much screwed their overseas sales for the last year, as well as the lethargy of the casual gaming market which was the main purchaser of the Wii; but didn’t stick around to continue purchasing titles for the thing. As you correctly state, it’s been a while since a new Nintendo console was released, and they’re rectifying that. Typically, as a game consoles life ends, sales falter.

    And you are downright wrong to say that many iOS games rival the playability of those on dedicated handhelds. Sit down for 5 minutes with Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, or Resident Evil Revelations on the 3DS and you’ll clearly see the difference is night and day, not just graphically, but how they control; because control is a games bread and butter, and let’s face it, most iOS games just don’t control that well, especially over long periods of time.

    Charlie “HCK” Maib
    GameFan Magazine

  • Viewfinderchris

    I play lots of games on my iPhone. But I can’t play any Mario, Donkey Kong or Starfox games. That’s the deal breaker for me and that’s the reason I’m saving for a Nintendo 3DS.

  • xMoonDevilx

    The iPhone isn’t beating Nintendo….Nintendo is beating Nintendo. Have been for a long while.

  • Tallest_Skil

    The Wii U won’t destroy anything if it’s main releases are ANOTHER Mario, ANOTHER Mario Kart, ANOTHER Zelda, ANOTHER Metroid, ANOTHER Donkey Kong, etc. Nintendo ARE stale, that’s not even an opinion it’s fact. They need new IP’s or they will go the way of SEGA.

    YEAH. Nintendo is CERTAINLY the company that needs to worry about rehashes. Uh huh. Yep. Super Mario 64? Super Mario Galaxy? EXACTLY the same game. Completely and utterly identical in every single way. Just like every other Nintendo game.

    On the other hand, we have GREAT games like Call of Duty, Call of Duty 2, Call of Duty 3, Call of Duty World at War, Call of Duty Modern Warfare, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3, Call of Duty Black Ops, Call of Duty Black Ops 2, Call of Duty 9, Medal of Honor, Medal of Honor Underground, Medal of Honor Assault, Medal of Honor Allied Assault, Medal of Honor Allied Assault Spearhead, Medal of Honor Allied Assault Breakthrough, Medal of Honor Frontline, Medal of Honor Rising Sun, Medal of Honor Infiltrator, Medal of Honor Pacific Assault, Medal of Honor European Assault, Medal of Honor Vanguard, Medal of Honor Airborne, Medal of Honor Heroes, Medal of Honor Heroes 2, Medal of Honor Warfighter…

    Oh, maybe I’m confused about that.

  • ApplePr0n

    The only way that I see Apple having any effect of Nintendo is in the handheld market where a parent ops for an iPod touch over a 3DS because the games are cheaper. Other than that, its apples to oranges

  • voloder
    The Wii U won’t destroy anything if it’s main releases are ANOTHER Mario, ANOTHER Mario Kart, ANOTHER Zelda, ANOTHER Metroid, ANOTHER Donkey Kong, etc. Nintendo ARE stale, that’s not even an opinion it’s fact. They need new IP’s or they will go the way of SEGA.

    YEAH. Nintendo is CERTAINLY the company that needs to worry about rehashes. Uh huh. Yep. Super Mario 64? Super Mario Galaxy? EXACTLY the same game. Completely and utterly identical in every single way. Just like every other Nintendo game.

    On the other hand, we have GREAT games like Call of Duty, Call of Duty 2, Call of Duty 3, Call of Duty World at War, Call of Duty Modern Warfare, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3, Call of Duty Black Ops, Call of Duty Black Ops 2, Call of Duty 9, Medal of Honor, Medal of Honor Underground, Medal of Honor Assault, Medal of Honor Allied Assault, Medal of Honor Allied Assault Spearhead, Medal of Honor Allied Assault Breakthrough, Medal of Honor Frontline, Medal of Honor Rising Sun, Medal of Honor Infiltrator, Medal of Honor Pacific Assault, Medal of Honor European Assault, Medal of Honor Vanguard, Medal of Honor Airborne, Medal of Honor Heroes, Medal of Honor Heroes 2, Medal of Honor Warfighter…

    Oh, maybe I’m confused about that.

    While you do make a good point, Nintendo is stale as well. You are either 9 or very weird. You have this odd obsession about Nintendo…

  • Downs

    GameCube = GayCube
    WiiMote = Weiner
    NewWii = Black Weiner

    Nintendo…either give up or up the game damnit!

  • EdRed

    But I know one way the company could make big bucks, and fast: Swallow its pride and bring Super Mario to iOS. Come on, Nintendo!

    LOL I thought the exact same thing. Has Nintendo ever released one of its titles on a platform different than their own?

  • Jairo

    that’s because the 3ds has horrible graphics and has no media management at all. besides its not even real 3d. My little brother has a 3ds but he prefers to play with his iPod touch for the obvious reasons. its also very cheap looking

  • technochick

    And then the Wii U comes out and destroys everything

    That’s Nintendo’s hope but rather like all those companies saying they are going to take the market from the iPhone and iPad, only time will tell if Wii U makes a dent of any kind

  • technochick

    The problem Nintendo have had for years is that it’s gaming portfolio is far too repetitive when releasing a new console or handheld. 

    And yet there is a potential audience that would pay to play that portfolio on their iPhones and iPads. Even if all they get is the original Super Mario game. 

About the author

Killian BellKillian Bell is a staff writer based in the U.K. He has an interest in all things tech and also covers Android over at CultofAndroid.com. You can follow him on Twitter via @killianbell.

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