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Iwata: Rise Of Social/Mobile Games Hasn't Hurt DS Usage
Iwata: Rise Of Social/Mobile Games Hasn't Hurt DS Usage
July 7, 2011 | By Kyle Orland

With many industry watchers wondering how Nintendo's portable business will weather the growing popularity of cheap and free-to-play mobile and social games, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata presented data showing players of such games are still playing games on the Nintendo DS as well.

At a recent presentation to stockholders, Iwata acknowledged that Nintendo's performance peaked around the same time that social games began their rise, but emphasized that the two phenomena are not necessarily linked directly.

"If there is a causal correlation, those playing both Nintendo DS and social games will play with Nintendo DS less frequently or become less likely to purchase Nintendo DS software," Iwata proposed.

Iwata then presented internal survey data showing that social game players continue to use the Nintendo DS at rates similar to those who don't play social games. In Japan, in fact, Nintendo's data shows that paying users on the popular Mobage and GREE networks are actually more likely to actively use their DS than the overall population of DS owners.

"The only explanation I can find is that these users love games," Iwata suggested. "They are spending more time both on Mobage or GREE and Nintendo DS."

Paying mobile and social gamers in Japan also purchase more Nintendo DS titles (1.5 games/year on average) than the general population of DS owners (1.2 games/year average), Iwata said.

The situation is similar in the U.S., Iwata asserted, with Facebook game players slightly more likely to be active Nintendo DS players than all adult Nintendo DS owners. Additionally, U.S. smartphone game players were not significantly less likely to play their DS than the population at large, Nintendo's survey showed.

While Iwata admitted that this data doesn't mean Nintendo "will be all right forever," he stressed that "so far, consumers have not stopped playing with Nintendo DS because they are using these services or playing social games."

The Nintendo president also reiterated his GDC keynote warnings that the rise in popularity for free games could erode the value of game in general in consumers' minds, leading to problems across the industry.



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Marcus Miller
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I beg to differ. Every minute someone plays Angry Birds is a minute less they are playing their 3DS/DS.

Glenn Dphrepaulezz
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I want to disagree as well... but, to your statement, if there were no Angry Birds would that same minute be spent on the 3DS/DS? I personally don't believe so, at least not generally speaking.

Angry Birds and like games are the shortest of short session games, and more likely to be played on a spur-of-the-moment basis. As much as a DS is a handheld device, the more popular games usually feel designed for a lengthier experience.

In other words... if I'm picking someone up and I'm waiting in my car, Angry Birds. if I'm on a 3 hour flight, DS/3DS.

Sting Newman
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You suffer from the fallacy of highlighting the hits and ignoring the misses. For every angry birds there are thousands of games that never achieve anything approaching their success.

Kamruz Moslemi
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Taking in the DS isles at various outlets at a glance I see Nintendo handheld's biggest audience are children because most of the software is clearly aimed at them and I most often see children perusing those isles as opposed to who is perusing the isles for other systems.

I have also been noticing children who once carried around DS's now carrying around iDevices. An iDevice is certainly a much more attractive proposition to the parents who have to fund their children's hobbies because the App store comes with a mountain of free games and the ones that cost anything only cost a fraction of the average DS game.

Now, the interesting question is wither Nintendo's biggest consumers are happy with just iDevice offerings for their gaming consumption or they want to keep their dedicated gaming portables around for a more meaty experience.

Marcus Miller
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I think the iTouch will be influencing the future gaming habits of these kids. They are going to want fun, cheap games. I know a lot of people who love gaming on their iPhones and think $5 is an expensive game. I think this is why Microsoft made Windows Mobile their gaming OS. They have seen the writing on the wall. Nintendo should be worried.

Malcolm Miskel
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Funny, I see more kids with DS devices than iDevices, though I do see far more tweens and teens with an iTouch/Phone. I suppose only time will tell....

jayvee inamac
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^ probably those teens passed their old DS's to their younger siblings after they got their iPhone/iTouch :)

Malcolm Miskel
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I'd agree if they didn't have a DSi/DSi XL. =P

Ian Uniacke
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Anecdotal evidence to be sure, but the other day I was using my 3ds for photography at the zoo and other kids at the zoo seemed in awe of it. So I think kids do definitely want the 3ds at least. It's not an either/or situation, people can have both (ds for christmas, iPod for birthday).

Leon T
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There continues to be data showing that social/mobile gaming is not hurting dedicated game machines yet people want to keep holding on the idea that they are. The mobile game threat has been talked about as a threat as far back as the Gameboy and yet we have the success of the DS along with the good sales of the PSP. People just will not let it do even when they don't have any data to support them.

It is not a bad thing the social/mobile market is not hurting the dedicated market. Just like it is not a bad thing that PC gaming does not hurt console gaming. It means that people will continue to have a lot of different options when it comes to playing and creating games. This is a good thing for gamers and developers.

Cody Scott
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Ill be honest. i play my little sisters DS more than my i touch. Most the free games suck. there are 2 titles that i like on my ipod and that's GameDev Story, and Plants vs Zombies; and i dont spend that much time on either. But i spend much more time playing my little sisters bright pink DS light. I actually have more games for her sister than she does. And the reason why i like the ds over my iPod, the games last longer, they are more fun, and im not required to use the touch screen.

I find touch screens to be annoying, they are either way to sensitive or not sensitive enough which will make me frustrated.

And even if you look at the popularity of Angry Birds you should also look at the group that it is so popular with. Most of the frequent angry birds players were never going to buy a ds anyways. the reason why angry birds is big for them is because it was on a platform they already "had to have" because in this day and time a cell phone is almost a necessity.