Monday, March 25, 2013

The Portable Fallacy

So I got myself a slightly used iPhone, which sadly has been upgraded to iOS 6 (and I am unable to downgrade it to a superior version). But it WAS what I was looking for (mostly) and allowed me to have a decent portable camera, communicate easier, and play the demo of Ghost Trick. This last part, however, just gets me frustrated of one of my pet peeves--the belief that iPods are killing sales of traditional gaming devices. There's talk of death of the traditional way we play games, et cetera. While it's true that the iOS devices have made a truly indelible mark on the gaming industry, there's a huge factor to keep in mind.

It's not as revolutionary as we think.

The first thing is that the market expanded. Apart from the "people who bought an iOS device with no intention to play games" stat that's screwing thing up, there's the fact that the pie is expanding (as opposed to zero sum gain). Although fairly simple games like Cut the Rope and Angry Birds are popular, many of these people are people who would've never played games before. It should be a sign of hope to video gaming, not a specter of doom of the "dumbing down" of games (unfortunately, execs don't think that way).

Now let's talk about why Nintendo is suffering. It has to do with the iOS devices. And it doesn't. Since the Wii, Nintendo has had downloadable content, but it never knew how to handle it. It was always far over-priced, with $5 for any NES game. That was fine and good, except not all NES games are created equal, and so forth and so on. Wisely, the iOS App Store (released about a year after the Wii's debut) has developers set their own prices, and it worked. It also opened up development to just about anyone, which Nintendo NEVER did. And while the quality of many of those applications are debatable (to put it as gently as possible), it created a huge market where there was none. "There's an App for That" entered pop culture. Meanwhile, Nintendo selfishly clung to three downloads a week, with hundreds being approved by Apple every day. Granted, Nintendo had good reasons for not allowing just about anyone in for a licensee: that dates back to the NES days, where Nintendo had a stranglehold on licensees to prevent flooding and crashing the market. Unfortunately, with the digital world, that's not the case. There's no actual physical product.

So...back to iOS games. I played and completed the demo of Ghost Trick and decided that perhaps the DS version would've been just as good. I've never been satisfied with the overall control and depth of iOS games, anyway.

(I realize I did write something like this over three years ago but that was then and this is now)