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3DS and Vita Face Tough Battle Against Smartphones

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.

Cellphones 138

An article at the Opposable Thumbs blog looks at the struggle between portable gaming devices and smartphones with access to a plethora of inexpensive games. "...most games simply have to be 'good enough' and convenient. If you already have a smartphone and an hour to kill, plenty of top-notch games can be downloaded in a minute for a dollar. With the 3DS or Vita, you're being asked to buy expensive hardware and then feed it with games that cost $40 and up. Smartphones also present a compelling deal for small, adventurous developers: it's inexpensive to create a game for these platforms, and developers don't have to worry about physical storefronts, packaging design, or cartridge manufacturing. Sony is now pushing for a digital platform that relies heavily on downloads with the Vita, but Nintendo still seems to believe the future rests with expensive, physical carts. Trying to buy one of the few digital games available on the 3DS via the system's e-shop is a slow, frustrating process."

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Open up for Indie development? (2)

Wattos (2268108) | more than 2 years ago | (#37104194)

I kind of agree. Maybe the next step for Nintendo and Sony should either be:

1) Open the platform for indie development and offer an online store where people can submit games (similar to Xbox live games)
2) Start creating games for mobile phones

Nr. 2 seems very unlikely, so I think their best bet is to open the platform up for indie development.

Re:Open up for Indie development? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37104212)

Seems like Sony has a leg up in that respect, since they've already dabbled in Android development.

Re:Open up for Indie development? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37104534)

That'd make sense if sony wasn't a big, fragmented and schitzophrenic organization.

Re:Open up for Indie development? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37104300)

"Start creating games for mobile phones "

http://www.sonyericsson.com/cws/products/mobilephones/overview/xperia-play?cc=gb&lc=en

Re:Open up for Indie development? (3, Interesting)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 2 years ago | (#37104554)

I kind of agree. Maybe the next step for Nintendo and Sony should either be: 1) Open the platform for indie development and offer an online store where people can submit games (similar to Xbox live games)

Agreed. Apple has actually made a mistake in one department: the latest generation iPod Touch only has 256mb RAM [wikipedia.org] compared to the iPhone 4's 512mb RAM [wikipedia.org] . This makes many games that are compatible with the iPhone 4 not compatible with the latest iPod Touch. Most parents won't buy their children iPhones due to the expensive monthly data plans but a ~$200 iPod Touch is no problem, but since they can't play the latest games it's no good. Why Apple did this is beyond me but it locks out many potential buyers.

But you're right about one thing: any gaming device, console or portable, better have a well-stocked app store if they want to survive. They better beg, borrow or steal to get developers to make thousands of games if they want to compete with Apple. Apple's App Store might not have the best quality games or the latest 3D hardware but they have millions of paying customers and those millions of customers translate into millions of dollars for developers. Raise your hand if you want millions of dollars. I thought so, so what does Nintendo have? Do they have millions of customers using their Wii Shop Channel? Where's the Wii Shop Channel millionaires? [google.com] There's plenty of App Store millionaires, [google.com] and that's what draws developers. Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft need to turn average joe game programmers into millionaires in a hurry if they want to survive against Apple. Honestly, I think they're SOL. App Store has been around for 3 years [wikipedia.org] and in that time Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft just looked at it with a blank stare while their sales have suffered while Apple gathered 200 million iOS users downloading over 15 billion apps and paying developers $2.5 billion dollars. [techcrunch.com] How many more years are they gonna wait? Really disappointed, it's like they saw the tidal wave coming and they sat in shock rather than move out of the way.

Re:Open up for Indie development? (1)

Gravatron (716477) | more than 2 years ago | (#37107460)

Sony has had PSN for some time now, but i'm not sure whats required to develop games for it, nor am I sure they have announced how PSN titles will work for the PSV. They do have Playstation suite/Playstation certified though, which should allow for android development which can also be played on the PSV.

Oh yes, (2)

daddy32 (2039384) | more than 2 years ago | (#37104196)

race to the bottom is going to seriously affect the gaming industry.

Re:Oh yes, (1)

dintech (998802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37104406)

Interesting that Nintendo choose this path for handheld though. They understand the adantages of the "sell huge volumes of low-tech games on cheap hardware" from their console endeavours.

Re:Oh yes, (3, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#37105316)

I'm told that there is an eldrich evil beyond mortal understanding entombed under Nintendo's headquarters. If they don't release a '3-D' gimmick that sucks and craters every so often, it will be unleashed upon the world...

Somewhere between 2025 and 2026, it is expected that cracks in the earth will again start devouring interns and releasing mephitic vapors in the lower levels of their HQ, and they'll start development of the next one.

In between these so-called 'darkest blasphemy appeasement' periods, Nintendo will follow a sensible strategy of releasing fairly well designed and popular games on inexpensive hardware, in their selfless quest to remain solvent and stockpile enough cash to be able to survive their next round of saving humanity...

True facts.

Re:Oh yes, (1)

deains (1726012) | more than 2 years ago | (#37105890)

But if the great evil were unleashed, surely Nintendo could just release a plumber, a green-kitted blonde kid and a few small animals with superpowers to go and deal with it? Should sort out the issue in a couple of days, I reckon.

A top notch game like what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37104198)

I'm desperate for a good game. Smartphones have games worth playing now? Tell me more.

Re:A top notch game like what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37104402)

Well, there's this thing called "grumpy fowl" or something that's all the rage; AIUI that's what passes for a top notch game these days.

Failing that, there's always Q3A, which is actually fun if everyone sticks to phones with no peripherals. As soon as someone throws a mouse+keyboard in the mix, it becomes markedly less fun for everyone else.

Re:A top notch game like what? (1)

Joe Tie. (567096) | more than 2 years ago | (#37104486)

I like plants vs. zombies, and I think the current mobile version of oregon trail is fairly good. However, for the most part my android gaming has come down to either emulators or flash games.

Re:A top notch game like what? (2)

dingen (958134) | more than 2 years ago | (#37104528)

Real Racing, Peggle, Flight Control, Lemonade Tycoon, Infinity Blade, Trainyard, Rage, Tower Defense: Lost Earth, Reckless Getaway, Zombie Gunship, Sonic Racing, Civilization Revolution, Bomberman, Plants vs Zombies, Boost 3D... just to name a few. I've spent hours and hours on these great games. They all feel very good in combination with the small touch screen of a smartphone and some of them look & sound amazing as well.

I'm currently playing Anomaly: Warzone Earth and thats just a fantastic title. It's these kinds of quality games Sony & Nintendo should really be worried about. When I'm able to get those games for just 1 or 2 dollars each and run them on a device that I'm always carrying with me anyway, there's just no reason for me whatsoever to get a Vita or 3DS. I already own a DS Lite and enjoyed it a lot. But since I got my smartphone, I've rarely touched it to be honest.

Re:A top notch game like what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37104642)

There's no role playing games. And I don't just mean Final Fantasy, you could go broader and say there's no games that tell a story or describe a world at all. Role playing isn't present in even a small sense.

I read lists like these and think of those CDs that have hundreds of card games on em - so what?

I know people want distractions - but it's not what they need. In fact, I think people don't want a simple distraction. People I know enjoy playing long, involved games of Scrabble; now imagine a game that required that much attention but with context that mattered. The closest you get from what I've seen is that Civ game, and that's a dumbed down version of a 20 year old game.

Re:A top notch game like what? (1)

dingen (958134) | more than 2 years ago | (#37104780)

There are lots of smartphone games telling a story or describing a world. There are lots of RPG's as well. The main reason these games are not on my little list, is because I don't particulary like them. Not on my phone anyway. I need something that is challenging and fun while riding the 20 minute train to work, and I like a good puzzle more than I like a good story. But thats just me.

Re:A top notch game like what? (1)

tycoex (1832784) | more than 2 years ago | (#37107400)

Just from the RPG's on my own phone, there is Dungeon Hunter 1/2, and Zenonia 1/2/3. Dungeon Hunter is a diablo style loot-collecting game, and Zenonia is a fun little snes-style RPG.

Looking in the market there are a ton more RPG's too. Although I admit I am looking at the Android market, I have no idea what is available on iOS.

Re:A top notch game like what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37106400)

The only smartphone game that is worth playing at all with a touchscreen as the only control is Fruit Ninja. Everything else pretty much sucks.

Re:A top notch game like what? (1)

FromWithin (627720) | more than 2 years ago | (#37106982)

Switch [android.com] , of course.

Disclaimer: my company.

Digital this, digital that, "few digital games"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37104222)

So what, there is a plethora of analog games for the 3DS? I only knew of catch and hot-potato.

Won't someone please LART these idiots for me?

Re:Digital this, digital that, "few digital games" (1)

dingen (958134) | more than 2 years ago | (#37104566)

Yeah, just like they talk about "digital music" when referring to downloads. I remember the press going crazy when The Beatles got on iTunes, because now their music was available digitally for the first time. Like CDs are analog or something...

"Digital" might have started with record labels (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37105840)

Yeah, just like they talk about "digital music" when referring to downloads.

I think that started with the legal departments of record labels, which use "digital" as an abbreviation for licensing packages that involve "digital transmission" or "digital phonorecord delivery" as defined in U.S. copyright law. From there, it generalized into delivery of a copy of a work of authorship by way of a transmission over a computer network.

But I don't want smartphones to win... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37104226)

I don't really see the 3DS/Vita and smartphones as going after the same gaming market (or rather I like to make a distinction). The games on the portable handhelds can be deeper experiences and have lots of buttons to work with. But with a game on a smartphone, you're working with something that is only one or two steps above a Flash game in a web browser. If people are flocking to simple little games in droves, thus proving XKCD #484, then that makes me a sad panda. One day it won't make business sense to make an epic AAA title ever again, except perhaps on PC since everybody has those and consoles are basically PCs these days.

ObPA (0, Redundant)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 2 years ago | (#37104232)

Re:ObPA (1)

MrDoh! (71235) | more than 2 years ago | (#37104500)

And explained perfectly.

WarioWare is even cheaper than that (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37105858)

Who would buy forty games for 99 cents each when a DS has WarioWare DIY, which comes with 90 games and an IDE for $35?

Re:WarioWare is even cheaper than that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37106002)

I'd mod you insightful, but for some reason Slashdot is hiding the moderate button from me.

Re:WarioWare is even cheaper than that (1)

jalefkowit (101585) | more than 2 years ago | (#37106594)

Because kids love IDEs!

Every Christmas it's the same story, the kids moping dejectedly around the tree because Santa didn't bring them Visual Studio...

Re:WarioWare is even cheaper than that (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37108064)

Then the fans of Clickteam's The Games Factory among my friends and family must be an edge case.

Re:WarioWare is even cheaper than that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37106754)

Somebody who wants games that are of a higher caliber than what you'd find in Action 52...err...Warioware.

Aren't we talking different markets? (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | more than 2 years ago | (#37104264)

Aren't smartphone games more for the adult casual gamer with some free time between the events that constitute their life and the nintendo handhelds more for young children with more free time than a life?

I'm guessing nintendo can depend on the childrens whining to maintain sales though i'm totally unfamiliar with the current state of children with cellphones. Personally i wouldn't pay fora child's cellphone but i guess nintendo could be in trouble seeing as how many parents have no problem buying cars for their children... i was lucky if they bought me food and clothing!

Re:Aren't we talking different markets? (1)

loufoque (1400831) | more than 2 years ago | (#37104338)

Aren't smartphone games more for the adult casual gamer with some free time between the events that constitute their life and the nintendo handhelds more for young children with more free time than a life?

Adults play real video games too, you know.
Actually, the PSP mostly had old-school JRPGs. The PSP was the console preferred by hardcore RPG gamers, which are typically young adults.
On the other hand, the DS had more games for kids.

Re:Aren't we talking different markets? (1)

Gravatron (716477) | more than 2 years ago | (#37107540)

I'm always surprised at that. the PSP started off trying to be a portable ps2, but due to the lack of a second stick, never really pulled that off. Instead, what we had was the best Portable for RPG lovers, like ever. Remakes of classics, enhanced ports, and completely new titles. I really hope this trend continues with the PSV.

Re:Aren't we talking different markets? (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 2 years ago | (#37107888)

There are rumors of Square Enix porting over some or all of their back library to the Vita, or even bringing FFXI (their successful MMORPG, unlike XIV) to the Vita with 3G wireless. I would buy it in a heartbeat if that were true.

Re:Aren't we talking different markets? (1)

edwdig (47888) | more than 2 years ago | (#37107114)

Aren't smartphone games more for the adult casual gamer with some free time between the events that constitute their life and the nintendo handhelds more for young children with more free time than a life?

That was true in the GameBoy days, but the DS hit a different market. The Pokemon crowd carried over, but the DS blew away the GameBoy because it catered to adults as well. Brain Age and games like that were major sellers - enough so that they released the DSi XL, which was primarily aimed at older audiences (the "can you make the text bigger?" crowd)

Smartphone Controls Suck (3, Insightful)

mentil (1748130) | more than 2 years ago | (#37104318)

Maybe when 6 buttons and an analog stick are standard equipment for smart phones Nintendo might have something to be afraid of; multitouch implementations of buttons and dpads/sticks are terrible and take up screen real estate. Clip-on accessories are available for some phones, but most people don't have these, there's no standardization, and thus most games won't support these things; it also contradicts the premise that people are playing these smartphone games when they're bored and just have a few minutes: they aren't going to lug around the clip-on button pad all day every day just in case they're bored for a few minutes.

Oh, and there's the fact that an unlocked smartphone costs more than a 3DS or PS Vita, and you need to pay a subscription for the ability to buy or redownload games. If you don't trust your kid to use a smartphone unsupervised, a dedicated games machine would be a better option.

If you have a dumbphone and are still under contract, then you don't have a smartphone laying around. If you're not technically apt, you don't have a smartphone laying around. If you have an Android/Blackberry and you want an iOS game, you're SOL. If you have an iPod touch, the CPU is too crappy to run the more complex games at full framerate.

Then there's different markets. If you're 40+ and never owned a games machine before, you might download Angry Birds to see what the fuss is about. If you check IGN every day, chances are you'll realize that different systems get different games and there are games that interest you on every platform -- this means you will be interested in games that are only on the 3DS, even if you hate the hardware and have an iPhone.

Analysts seem to be repeating this argument ad nauseum, because they see portable gaming systems as less convenient than mobile phones. This is true, but missing the point. I bought a DS not because I wanted to play games when I'm out that happen to be new, it's that games I'm interested in playing happened to be released on a portable system.

The real question is, why would developers make games for the 3DS instead of smartphone only? The answer has to be: because that's where the gamers are -- the gamers willing to pay $40 per game. That means high production values and budgets, and high-quality games made by large teams for 18+ months. It could also be that something they REALLY want to make requires an analog stick or buttons, but that's less likely.

Personally I appreciate these high-quality large games that aren't just ports of home console games, but are things that wouldn't be released on any other system -- they're too large for a smartphone and too small for a home console.

Re:Smartphone Controls Suck (2)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 2 years ago | (#37104584)

You seem to mostly miss the point. The problem is that there are very few gamers nowadays that are willing to pay US$40 for a game. Very very few. It's just too expensive. Then the convenience app stores provide versus having to go to a shop and hoping that your game is on stock. And finally of course the issue of critical mass: there are not enough gamers to have many developers write games for the platform, which in turn discourages many otherwise interested gamers.

Sure there will be a market for hand held game consoles. I totally agree that phones suck when it comes to control, compared to dedicated systems. But then a smartphone is a jack of all trades, and for most people, and many uses, it's simply good enough.

Nintendo must be able to compete with smartphones, but they will have to 1) match the convenience of downloadable games, and 2) come closer in pricing. Not necessarily match the $0,99 price point, but $40 is too much of a difference. A console must be able to provide better games (game play, graphics, etc) so a higher price for such games is reasonable.

Re:Smartphone Controls Suck (3, Informative)

mentil (1748130) | more than 2 years ago | (#37104716)

The 4 million Japanese who bought Dragon Quest 9 at the equivalent of $64 kindly disagree with your assertion that "very very few" people would pay $40 for a portable game.

Re:Smartphone Controls Suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37104954)

That's very few when you consider Angry Birds is at 300 million downloads, even when you consider the 21 million who bought New Super Mario Brothers Wii.

Re:Smartphone Controls Suck (2)

qwak23 (1862090) | more than 2 years ago | (#37105140)

http://www.vgchartz.com/weekly.php?reg=America&date=&console=&maker= [vgchartz.com]

Granted, I'm unfamiliar with the above site and how accurate their numbers are, but to me, 2.7 million games sold in one week across ALL platforms says otherwise. It doesn't break it down by price point, by the top game on their list for the week (Mario Kart Wii) still retails for $47 on amazon. That doesn't sound like very very few to me. Sure having to go get or ship a physical copy isn't as convenient as the instant gratification of digital distribution, but on-line retailers tend to blow the brick and mortar shops out of the water when it comes to media. I can't speak for the rest of the population, but most of the games I'm willing to pay $40 for, I'm also willing to wait for. If I've got 10 minutes to kill, I'm bored, and I want something new then I'm probably not going to want to wait, and well, probably not willing to spend $40 for that 10 minutes either. As for critical mass, I'll agree with that, though I wouldn't be surprised if the industry itself is pushing away from more traditional handheld types. It's a bad feedback loop, no gamers, no games yet no games, no gamers. Not many new properties or franchise iterations were brought to the 3DS to start with. In my completely uninformed opinion, I'm guessing a lot of the big studios are focusing their portable divisions on breaking into smartphones and tablets. The traditional style handheld brings PC/Console level games to the portable market, costs are probably on par with regular console/PC titles and then have to sell for a lower price point. The simple kill 5 minutes games on the smartphones cost next to nothing to develop so who cares if the price point is $1 or $2, that's cheap enough that many people will impulse buy, I would assume they are looking on getting more entrenched in that market since it probably looks like people are just printing money.

iPhone service costs much more (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37105960)

The problem is that there are very few gamers nowadays that are willing to pay US$40 for a game.

Nor are there a lot of gamers who would pay $65 per month (estimated price difference between AT&T's service for iPhone 4 and Virgin Mobile USA's least expensive service for a dumbphone) for a games machine.

Re:iPhone service costs much more (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 2 years ago | (#37106144)

In the US you are limited to Verizon and AT&T for the iPhone; other parts of the world you have different options when it comes to data plan pricing. Also consumers can choose the iPod Touch. While it may not play all the games due to smaller RAM, it still plays many of them. Or even get an old iPhone without phone service. However I seriously doubt anyone looking to get a gaming machine looks exclusively at smartphones. Smartphones can play games so someone can consolidate their devices; if they are buying only a game machine, they are not likely to get a smart phone.

Re:iPhone service costs much more (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 2 years ago | (#37106296)

On top of that you don't need mobile data for a smart phone. It's convenient for sure. But not a requirement. They work fine without SIM, or with just a voice plan. They just get a little dumber (and less ads due to no data available :))

Re:iPhone service costs much more (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37107936)

On top of that you don't need mobile data for a smart phone.

Unless they won't sell the phone without the mobile data plan. And even then, how many smartphones work on voice plans as cheap as the $15 per three months voice plan I have with Virgin Mobile USA?

They work fine without SIM

I seem to remember reading about an Android phone that wouldn't let the user go to the home screen if the SIM were removed. It would get stuck in the phone app, limited to emergency calls only. Do newer Android phones have this same problem? And which such device without a voice and data contract but with Android Market is as cheap as a 3DS or an iPod touch?

Re:iPhone service costs much more (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 2 years ago | (#37106260)

I'm paying the equivalent of no more than US$15 per month for three mobile phone accounts (that's the total, the cheapest account is some US$2.6 per month), each with plenty of airtime included. One comes even with a second number for use in China (one SIM, two numbers). No data though, I don't really need that so didn't subscribe, and wifi is virtually everywhere if you really need some. I could go and get an iPhone if I wanted too (instead opted for a much cheaper, probably less capable LG smart phone instead) and just put in a SIM.

Not everyone is living in the US.

Re:iPhone service costs much more (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37107954)

Not everyone is living in the US.

But I am. Which country is taking refugees from the U.S. mobile device cartel?

Re:Smartphone Controls Suck (2)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#37104586)

Maybe when 6 buttons and an analog stick are standard equipment for smart phones Nintendo might have something to be afraid of; multitouch implementations of buttons and dpads/sticks are terrible and take up screen real estate.

Yes. But the best game developers create games that take advantage of the particular I/O a device has. The best iPhone games use multitouch screen in a way that it's intended to be used - to point and drag objects on the screen. They don't emulate D-Pads and buttons.

Can all genres use pointing and dragging? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37105972)

The best iPhone games use multitouch screen in a way that it's intended to be used - to point and drag objects on the screen.

How would you recommend that a developer make a platformer like Mario or Sonic work by "point[ing] and drag[ging] objects on the screen"?

Re:Can all genres use pointing and dragging? (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#37106626)

Equally, the new genres that are coming along that work with pointing and dragging objects won't work so well on consoles that just have buttons.

Also, your classic third-person shooter was compromised when being ported from PCs with mice to consoles without them.

The good news is that the new set of opportunities and limitations brought about by a new device category always leads to innovative games.

For example, whilst classic Mario and Sonic won't work well, Doodle Jump is an extremely popular platform game on the iPhone. It doesn't emulate buttons.

Re:Can all genres use pointing and dragging? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37108020)

So what you're trying to say is that a developer must make a name for himself and "pay his dues", so to speak, by making and selling games in a pointing and dragging objects genre before he's allowed to make games in a buttons genre. Or what did I misunderstand?

Re:Smartphone Controls Suck (2)

YetAnotherForumAcc (2431122) | more than 2 years ago | (#37104618)

Personally I see portable consoles replacing home consoles.

It allows you to play anywhere (eg. on the couch, laying in bed), you don't have to fight with the rest of the family for the living room TV, you won't distrub anyone sleeping if you play at night and you get privacy.

A bit more convenient too. Just pick up and play, instead of turn on TV, find disc, wait for the console to boot ...
Allowing a more "spur of a moment" gaming in contrast to the "let's sit down and play a game" "planned event" we have with current home consoles.

Controls wise the PSV more or less completely mirrors the dualshock. So people aren't give up much in that aspect.

Re:Smartphone Controls Suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37105568)

Personally I see portable consoles replacing home consoles.

People playing games with surround sound with a sub on a big screen are not going to replace that experience with a little device. You might, but many others won't. The only issue is late night gaming, but there are plenty of wireless headphone options available for that.

Re:Smartphone Controls Suck (1)

YetAnotherForumAcc (2431122) | more than 2 years ago | (#37107792)

Well, for people like me with no home theater system it's kind of a wash.

The big screen is nice and all, but I will have to drag my ass to the living room, and there is the possibility my mum (retired) or my sister wants to watch TV then there will be "negotiations".

The lack of privacy also irks me quite a lot, I don't like people watching over my shoulder when I watch movies or play games. I also hate "interruptions" like eg. people walking past me or talking.

There is also a feeling of "commitment" when I start up the "system". You got to turn on the TV, switch the channel, turn on the console, wait for boot, insert game, wait for load. I always feel a little pressured to make good use of all that "effort".
As a result, I end up thinking "I don't have time for this. Some other time." as I feel I have to commit hours to it.

Yet, I don't seem to have much problems picking up and playing Plant vs Zombies on my iPhone for hours on end, late in the night when I should be sleeping. LOL
Probably because I feel I can just quit out of the game whenever without much "loss".

Once the TV is turned on (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37107996)

You got to turn on the TV, switch the channel, turn on the console, wait for boot, insert game, wait for load.

This is an advantage of phones over consoles in general than an advantage of handheld consoles over home consoles. Other than turning on the TV, the DS has the same steps in a different order: insert game, turn on the DS, wait for health screen, select DS game (as opposed to PictoChat, DS Download Play, or system settings), wait for load.

That's not a planned event (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37106028)

It allows you to play anywhere (eg. on the couch, laying in bed), you don't have to fight with the rest of the family for the living room TV, you won't distrub anyone sleeping if you play at night and you get privacy.

Are you talking about dedicated handheld game systems, smartphones, or laptop computers?

Just pick up and play, instead of turn on TV, find disc, wait for the console to boot

With the DS, it's no different: find Game Card, turn on system, wait for health disclaimer.

Allowing a more "spur of a moment" gaming in contrast to the "let's sit down and play a game" "planned event" we have with current home consoles.

That's not a planned event. A planned event is a LAN party, in which the host makes sure before everybody comes over that they 1. own a separate copy of the game, 2. own a PC capable of running the game, and 3. "fight with the rest of the family for" permission to borrow the PC for the night. Multiplayer on portable is similar, except #3 is far easier to come by. But with a home console or one of the (admittedly few) games that support HTPCs [pineight.com] , you'd just put in the disc (only one, not one per player), plug in or pair your controllers, and go.

Re:That's not a planned event (1)

YetAnotherForumAcc (2431122) | more than 2 years ago | (#37107914)

Are you talking about dedicated handheld game systems, smartphones, or laptop computers?

Handhelds and smartphones.

With the DS, it's no different: find Game Card, turn on system, wait for health disclaimer.

Allowing a more "spur of a moment" gaming in contrast to the "let's sit down and play a game" "planned event" we have with current home consoles.

That's not a planned event. A planned event is a LAN party, in which the host makes sure before everybody comes over that they 1. own a separate copy of the game, 2. own a PC capable of running the game, and 3. "fight with the rest of the family for" permission to borrow the PC for the night. Multiplayer on portable is similar, except #3 is far easier to come by. But with a home console or one of the (admittedly few) games that support HTPCs [pineight.com] , you'd just put in the disc (only one, not one per player), plug in or pair your controllers, and go.

Well it feels like a "planned event" to me personally. Maybe it's just me.

I explained it in an earlier post (last 2 paragraphs):
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2381150&cid=37107792 [slashdot.org]

Could have copied and pasted it here, but that kind of feels like spamming.

Re:Smartphone Controls Suck (1)

Simulant (528590) | more than 2 years ago | (#37105594)

Much of what you say is true, but.... A smartphone is enough for most of us adults who have to have one anyway. Though the games aren't the same (nor as good in many cases), my smartphone packs more than enough entertainment (web, books, video, audio) to keep me occupied. That said, I'd still love to have some Nintendo games on my phone... an official emulator would be cool. However, I get my real gaming fix on a PC and since I'll probably have a smart phone for the rest of my life, I'll probably never buy another portable game system. The casual adult portable gaming market is permanently lost to smartphones.

Re:Smartphone Controls Suck (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37106082)

A smartphone is enough for most of us adults who have to have one anyway.

True, but having to have a phone doesn't necessarily imply having to have a smartphone. A lot of people have a dumbphone because all they need to do is make the occasional urgent call, and pay-as-you-go dumbphone service through Virgin Mobile USA costs literally one-tenth of smartphone service through the major carriers.

The casual adult portable gaming market is permanently lost to smartphones.

I thought the App Store didn't allow "adult" games.

Re:Smartphone Controls Suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37105946)

Maybe when 6 buttons and an analog stick are standard equipment for smart phones Nintendo might have something to be afraid of

That statement right there shows just how little you understand what Nintendo is going through. Nintendo's bread and butter in the handheld department has ALWAYS been parents looking to buy their kids a cheap game system. I have comic books with loads of ads for Atari Lynx and Sega Game Gear talking insane amounts of smack how they're gonna eat the game boy's lunch. They have way more buttons. They have color screens. But when that parent is staring at their respective choices, they didn't see a Lynx, Game Gear, or Game Boy. They saw $190, $150, and $90. Compare that to $230 for iPod touch and (until recently) $250 for 3DS. On top of the fact that a parent can spend maybe $20 in games on the touch, have an immense library for which the kid can choose from verses $40 a pop for a game a kid might grow tired of, which do you think they'd pick?

The real question is, why would developers make games for the 3DS instead of smartphone only? The answer has to be: because that's where the gamers are.

Wrong again. Developers go where the money is. Angry birds cost $140k to make and it made them $70mil. Granted, that's not an everyday occurance but you can't deny that's a success that any developer would want to be a part of. And think of all that money spent on cartidges, packaging, delivery verses the cost of bandwidth. If you want to know what is going to happen to the game market ask yourself this, when was the last time you bought a CD.

Re:Smartphone Controls Suck (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37106052)

If you have an Android/Blackberry and you want an iOS game, you're SOL.

If you have a PSP and you want a DS game, you're SOL.

It could also be that something they REALLY want to make requires an analog stick or buttons, but that's less likely.

I disagree with you.

Another problem with the dedicated handhelds is their restrictions on who may develop for them. Nintendo has never been a fan of micro-ISVs; documents on warioworld.com indicate that a developer is banned from Nintendo platforms until he has had a chance to relocate, build a resume, and start a company. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I understand that this involves building up tens of thousands of dollars on which to live while seeking a job; moving to Silicon Valley, greater Seattle, or some other area with multiple major video game developers; somehow landing a job with major video game developer; and working there for several years.

Re:Smartphone Controls Suck (1)

edwdig (47888) | more than 2 years ago | (#37106512)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I understand that this involves building up tens of thousands of dollars on which to live while seeking a job; moving to Silicon Valley, greater Seattle, or some other area with multiple major video game developers; somehow landing a job with major video game developer; and working there for several years.

No, it doesn't. There's no need to work for a major developer. The closest small developer near you is fine. If you're looking to make handheld games they'll probably be happy with iPhone experience. There's tons of remote iPhone contract work available.

Getting a job at a game company isn't hard if you really are talented enough to deserve it. It's hard to find good people in the industry. Make a small, polished demo and send it with a resume. It'll take you far.

Re:Smartphone Controls Suck (1)

sunfly (1248694) | more than 2 years ago | (#37106514)

It appears you are of the demographic that would enjoy a Sony Vita. Congratulations. The point is that although there are millions like you, you are now the minority, as most people are content with a few $0.99 games on their smart phone to play while waiting for their wife to try on clothes at Kohls.

Re:Smartphone Controls Suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37106898)

I must say that my DS experience does not match yours. I found myself buying games at $40 a pop that my son could finish in a day for the DS lite. these were certainly not high production or high value games. There may be a few studios willing to put in the effort, but most of the games are rubbish.

Re:Smartphone Controls Suck (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 2 years ago | (#37106924)

Maybe when 6 buttons and an analog stick are standard equipment for smart phones Nintendo might have something to be afraid of;

Agreed. Until phones are released that are designed for playing games, gaming devices will be superior in their niche. Right now, gaming on phones is still like the talking dog; the impressive thing is that it talks at all, not on how well it does it.

Won't be a surprise... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37104466)

...when sales SURGE as soon as the 3DS/Vita are cracked.

No, they don't. (1)

MasaMuneCyrus (779918) | more than 2 years ago | (#37104522)

The people who say that iPhones and tablets are going to kill handheld gaming systems are the same people saying that netbooks and laptops will replace the desktop computer. They're different systems with different intended audiences and are completely distinct in terms of user experience.

Angry Birds is a fun game, but it has a time and a place. You cannot play games like Mega Man or Metroid with a touch screen and motion controls. If the Wii and DS have taught the gaming industry anything, it's that touch and motion controls are not a substitute for buttons.

Re:No, they don't. (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#37104612)

If the Wii and DS have taught the gaming industry anything, it's that touch and motion controls are not a substitute for buttons.

How so, given that the Wii outsold the competitor consoles and the DS outsold the competitor hand-helds?

Re:No, they don't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37105036)

My understanding is that the Wii sold a lot of hardware, but the games market is pretty stagnant outside of Wii Sports.

The Wii had a huge burst when it was the new innovative thing and may people (including me) bought one. Now it sits languishing in the corner since there's next to no games for it that aren't shovelware. All the big games are on PS3 and 360, with the Wii maybe getting a version that looks like balls in comparison.

Re:No, they don't. (1)

edwdig (47888) | more than 2 years ago | (#37106540)

They sold a ton, but the DS also has a traditional button layout surrounding the screen. Plenty of games don't use the touch screen for anything other than menu navigation.

Most Wii games aimed at traditional console gamers use buttons heavily.

Re:No, they don't. (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 2 years ago | (#37107044)

If the Wii and DS have taught the gaming industry anything, it's that touch and motion controls are not a substitute for buttons.

How so, given that the Wii outsold the competitor consoles and the DS outsold the competitor hand-helds?

Perhaps because Nintendo was smart enough to include buttons and d-pads on both? They realized that motion/touch controls alone are not adequate for a general purpose gaming device.

Hell, Microsoft's Kinect is massively advanced over touchscreen, and yet if the 360 had supported only Kinect and not a gamepad, it would have been a massive failure.

Re:No, they don't. (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#37108028)

Perhaps because Nintendo was smart enough to include buttons and d-pads on both?

But that doesn't "teach the gaming industry" anything. Other than Nintendo made the choice to include buttons.

*IF* systems without buttons were bound to be a massive failure for games, then Apple wouldn't have such a successful mobile gaming platform. But they do.

Re:No, they don't. (2)

dingen (958134) | more than 2 years ago | (#37104694)

The people who say that iPhones and tablets are going to kill handheld gaming systems are the same people saying that netbooks and laptops will replace the desktop computer. They're different systems with different intended audiences and are completely distinct in terms of user experience.

It's not about "killing" anything, it is about where the money is. In that regard, the desktop PC is already long gone. Sales have been declining, laptops have been outselling desktops for years and profit margins are nearly non-existant. The desktop PC has become a products for some niches (office workers, gamers, some professionals), but the general public isn't too interested in desktops anymore. That doesn't mean the desktop is "dead" or you wont be able to get a desktop in the future or something, but it's defintely not as mainstream as it used to be.

Same thing with handheld gaming devices. They wont go away. They wont die. But they will be a whole lot less dominant, and that's mainly because of people playing now on their smartphones instead.

Re:No, they don't. (4, Interesting)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 2 years ago | (#37104956)

Yes, I think this is basically right. As somebody who would describe himself as a gamer, I can honestly say I've got little to no interest in smartphone games. In fact, I haven't even bothered picking up a smartphone myself.

Thing is, smartphone games can't hold my attention for more than a few minutes. My handhelds get most use when I'm travelling - on the plane or train to my destination, or while I'm away. When I'm at home, I have access to a gaming PC and all three current "big" consoles - so unless there's a really strong handheld exclusive title, I'm not going to bother with a little screen there. And for an 8 hour flight - or even a 2 hour train journey - the kind of games you get on smartphones just won't cut it - and nor will their woeful controls.

There's a lot of doom and gloom around handhelds at the moment because the 3DS is failing (and if things haven't picked up by Christmas, then I think we can start saying "failed" in the past tense). As a 3DS owner who tried to give the machine a fair shake, I can tell you now that the main reasons for this are:

- A lack of decent games to play now (despite the nostalgia-fuelled review scores, even Zelda hasn't stood up that well to the test of time) and a lack of interesting games in the pipeline.

- Game prices which are, I would estimate, 30%-40% too high - for both boxed and downloadable games.

- Dire battery life which is inadequate for any trip of over 3 hours or so.

- A 3D effect which is impressive for a few minutes, but then headache-inducing and nigh-impossible to use on the move. Oh - and which results in big "not for children under 6" warnings all over the thing.

- A sense that in technical terms, leaving aside 3D, the machine is actually lagging behind the 7 year old PSP.

- Rubbish online functionality, with an eShop that is a usability nightmare.

- Less significant than the other reasons, but still not trivial - region locking.

However, all of the above are specific mistakes on the part of Nintendo - not elements that are essential components of the handheld gaming market. Moreover, in the 3DS's biggest region of failure - Japan - it's not smartphones its losing out to, but the PSP and even its own predecessor. It feels a bit odd and worrying because the habit in recent years has been for Nintendo handhelds to Just Not Flop (TM), but it's not unprecedented (Virtual Boy).

Sony will avoid some of the mistakes above with the Vita, may or may not avoid others and could possibly add some mess-ups of its own - but we probably won't know until much closer to its launch. The launch games lineup is, at least, much stronger, which gets around one of the 3DS's biggest problems. I would say the main deciding factors for the Vita now (given that price and games lineup are known) will be the price of games and the battery life.

Re:No, they don't. (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 2 years ago | (#37107620)

In fact, I haven't even bothered picking up a smartphone myself.

Then,

Thing is, smartphone games can't hold my attention for more than a few minutes.

So, how would you actually know? There are other games than Angry Birds [youtube.com] .

Re:No, they don't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37105120)

And they also said that facebook will take over everything. They said that Farmville would be all the gaming we would ever need.

apparently the only qualification for being an analyst is having your head up your own ass.

Re:No, they don't. (1)

digitallife (805599) | more than 2 years ago | (#37106922)

Currently on my touch device I have GT Racing, Civilization, Dead Space, Assassins Creed, GTA... To name a very small few. You are never going to convince anyone who has actually used games on a touch device that there are no good games.

Re:No, they don't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37107166)

I agree, every time I hear that pompous and arrogant angry birds guy say that the 99 cent games are gonna kill this and that, I think: "yeah, and the dollar menu on McDonalds killed all fancy restaurants when it came out"

gba games were not bought for yourself (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#37104550)

xmas gifts depend on physical cartridges. as did the quality of your average gba game depend on gift giving.

so with xperia play, you can play all gba games better than on a real gba.

but, the library is still just a handful of good games.

Nintendo Points cards (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37106136)

xmas gifts depend on physical cartridges.

How so? I've heard a lot of cousins ask for an iTunes gift card last Christmas; Nintendo Points cards are not much different. But why do people hold back generosity until a birthday anyway [pineight.com] ?

Re:Nintendo Points cards (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#37107798)

that's _not_ the same thing.

points cards are like giving money, only worse than money. in dilberts words it shows defective thought, but buying a license made piece of shit game(of whatever brand the kid in question thinks is cool) shows more, even if just as defective, thought - and is physical, you can wrap it up or possibly the kid can adore it at the game shop, or the kid can wander off in the supermarket to see them - on the web the games have to compete with free flash games which the kids are well aware of. And on top of that, the adult can think smug of himself for buying a non violent game, like a golf game where it takes 20 minutes of boring cutscenes where mario is referred twice to get to a golf game that's worse than what you could have done on a snes. and the plastics are pretty cheap.

and did I mention how you can sell inferior games that way? that's pretty important.

personally of course, I think the physical medium for most of those games are stupid(you can latch extra electronics into the game carts which makes it a bit less stupid), but I can see how the nintendo execs like the idea and like it a lot - I mean, selling tetris again and again on physical carts!

It's not all about the games. (1)

trout007 (975317) | more than 2 years ago | (#37104674)

I am a Nintendo fanboy. I have a 3DS and an iPad. Right now I use the iPad more for my entertainment purposes. Like any nintendo fan you learn to wait for the good games because there are some great ones. Bu you need something to do while waiting. I tried playing games on the iPad but they are terrible. You would think some games like RTS or Sim City type games would be perfect for porting but with the price pressure they come out horrible. I mean advanced wars for the old Game boy is better than anything I found so far.

The thing people are confusing is my life doesn't have a certain amount of hours reserved for gaming per se. I have leisure time. Right now it is being filled by browsing /. on my iPad.

Re:It's not all about the games. (1)

windwalkr (883202) | more than 2 years ago | (#37106016)

I found SimCity on the iPad to be pretty good actually. Not perfect- it could do with a few minor fixes- but well worth the money and one of the bigger time-wasters for me.

Oblig Penny Arcade (0)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 2 years ago | (#37104838)

http://penny-arcade.com/comic/2011/08/01 [penny-arcade.com]

Sums it up pretty nicely.

Re:Oblig Penny Arcade (1)

tecnico.hitos (1490201) | more than 2 years ago | (#37106338)

Fun is not an absolute concept quantifiable by value that adds up that way. Mario, Zelda and Metroid, as well as Metal Gear, God of War and Uncharted are fun in different ways among themselves and than Angry Birds. A significant amount of people is not gaming just for killing time and even if there cheap smart games that are fun, they sometimes they can't provide the same value as a $40 game.

ah....oh (1)

k4b (2433856) | more than 2 years ago | (#37105254)

My nine year old nephew informed me last week that he definitely wanted a 3DS rather than an iPod Touch because it's 3D! [goo.gl] That's better than the iPod Touch which isn't 3D at all. But I think in a few years he'll see the benefit of the iPod. Being able to buy a game a week with his allowance rather than saving up for a $30 or $40 game is a big advantage. Nintendo needs to wake up to the fact that game prices are going down. A game like the Legend of Zelda will probably still sell for $50, but they need to be competing more strongly in the under $10 market. That means getting their Internet connectivity sorted out and expanding the selection of downloadable titles.

don't you really just mean the iPhone? (1)

k4f (2433858) | more than 2 years ago | (#37105360)

By "smartphone," don't you really just mean the iPhone? Game devs certainly aren't making a run for the booming Android goldmine. Also, the only genre that touchscreen controls aren't so hot in is traditional action games [goo.gl] (platformers, shooters, fighters) where you have to move your character around with fast reaction times. Everything else works pretty damn well, I've found.

The competition is for your time, not games (2)

erog (2438744) | more than 2 years ago | (#37105368)

It's not just about games. With the proliferation of smartphones, kindles, etc. It really comes down to what would I rather do with my idle time? Instead of paying for a 3DS or Vita, I can read a book; watch netflix (yes, I know you can do that on the 3DS, but thats not a differentiator); play a cheaper game; or surf the web (see netflix comment above). That's why smartphones are going to kill the 3DS and Vita - it is easier/cheaper to waste time on them.

Say what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37105456)

I dunno about the Vita, but I don't know any adults with DSs and I'm sure as hell not buying a child a smartphone.

Go look at the selection of DS games in any store--75% are for children. The DS market is clearly children.

Fi85t (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37105492)

flaws 1n the BSD GNNA on slashdot,

Funny, 3DS just sold 207k in Japan last week (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37105532)

Funny, this got posted now. The 3DS just sold 207,000 units in Japan last week. Apart from that, the only thing I got to say is: Not this sh*t again.

I've said it before (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37105708)

I've said it before and I will say it again. The reason this generation of handheld consoles looks so bleak is simple: The 3DS sucks because 3D is a stupid gimmick. The 3DS doesn't bring enough to the table to warrant an upgrade, which is why I, like most of my friends, picked up a 3DS, then returned it a week later. Sony will always have modest sales that pale next to the behemoth of Nintendo. But Nintendo seems to have pulled another virtual boy.

cyclical (1)

SpinningCone (1278698) | more than 2 years ago | (#37105900)

more than likely the market is just cyclical.

everyone has a phone so everyone bails on handhelds and plays crappy 20 minute games with either crappy directional controls or good touch ones. people clamor for better controls so (like the new sony phone) they make built in buttons and pads. then better graphics processors then games for those processors. suddenly we have games for only some users (not everyone will have the hardware) then people will want games with more depth than the 20 minute crappy games and be willing to pay for it. aaaaanndd we're back.

just look at netbooks, they were supposed to be uber cheap stripped down and tiny. then people wanted more cpu, a full hard drive, bigger display, now they cost as much as a laptop, but are a bit smaller.

think tablets liek the ipad are the future? sure then one day someone will get the "bright idea" to put a fold up keybored "right on the ipad!" genius! aaannnd we're back.

my phone as a gaming system? yes and no, i have hooked it up to my tv, used a wii remote synced to the bluetooth and run an snes emulator. *that* rocks pretty hard. for actual gaming ont he go the ds is far nicer and better. especially with my ace-card where (like my phone) i can keep 3 dozen games ont he device without carrying a lunchbox full of carts. if the 3ds had a nice ipod hard drive and a slick online market ( with the option to buy and install from carts) i think it would be more relevant in today's market.

3DS has low-cost downloads too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37106062)

Not all 3DS games are $40 carts (most of the best will be though :-)

Original DS (1)

Lapine (180452) | more than 2 years ago | (#37106500)

The original DS is pretty much my favorite game system right now and I don't even want a 3DS. Not interested in 3D functionality, and there's still countless great games for the original DS I can get used copies cheaply. I do favor that style of game over the 99 cent style time-wasters (Angry Birds was free on android, and that fulfills that niche enough for me), but until there's quality games on the 3DS that match that of the original DS, I'll be waiting.

Top Notch? (1)

bickle (101226) | more than 2 years ago | (#37106934)

plenty of top-notch games can be downloaded in a minute for a dollar.

Apparently their definition of 'top-notch' is much more lenient than mine. 99.9% of smartphone games are crap. And most of the remaining could be more accurately described as 'diversions' than 'games'.

I have a bunch of games on my Ipad and Iphone, but none that I would want to play for more than 10 minutes at a time.

In short, I would rather have 1 Dragon Quest game for $40 than 40 $1 games.

in the long run (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37107032)

it costs more to play games on a smartphone. The software might be 99 cents but the contracts and data plans for a phone with decent specs exceed 70 bucks a month, plus the cost of the phone itself. When they come up with better controls(like the xperia), don't force me to marry verizon's evil empire and stop releasing a "new" angry birds every 2 months i'll stop using my DS.

No removable battery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37107584)

Since the VITA does not have a (user) removable battery, it's a no-go for me. I've gone through a couple batteries already for my PSP-1000. It's a portable device, and it's useless if after a year or two you can only play it while plugged in a wall outlet.

Sony, Ninty looking to fail. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37107596)

I've been playing and massively enjoying Pocket Legends on my android tablet. I've been putting more than a few hours into it, more hours than most paid games. While some may say it's crap, it kicks around the Untold Legends garbage the PSP had.

With developer costs being so low, yeah, there's lots of crap but there's also more to choose from and better chance of stumbling on a rare gem precisely because of accessibility. Cost of trying is much less as well.

3ds and vita are not in danger (1)

orthicviper (1800010) | more than 2 years ago | (#37108036)

All these articles nowadays saying dedicated handheld gaming systems are threatened by smartphones need to stop. The justification that smartphones offer cheap and good-enough games is like saying no one would buy a an original Game Boy because buying a crossword puzzle book would be cheaper and good enough. As long as smartphones don't have physical buttons, they are at a serious disadvantage. I'd rather pay 40 bucks for Street Fighter 4 on 3ds than pay 1 dollar for it on an iPhone.

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