At present, iOS and Android are home to some great games, but outside of Angry Birds, there are relatively few titles which can be described as truly iconic to the same degree as Nintendo's titles. Despite this, though, players are shunning Nintendo's latest handheld in favor of Apple's devices for their portable entertainment needs -- and investors have noticed.
Poor performance of the Nintendo 3DS following its launch -- caused largely by a lack of quality games and the continuing growth of the smartphone app market -- has led the company to slash prices for the system by $80 in the U.S. less than six months after the product's debut. This is the earliest Nintendo has ever had to make such a substantial price cut so early in a product's lifespan.
Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has said that he will only make titles for Nintendo's own products for as long as he is in charge, but investors believe that it is foolish for Nintendo to continue on this course.
"Smartphones are the new battlefield for the gaming industry," Masamitsu Ohki, fund manager at Tokyo-based Stats Investment Management Co., told Bloomberg. "Nintendo should either buy its way into this platform or develop something totally new." Ohki's words were backed up when recent rumors that Pokémon Co. were developing a game for iPhone and Android caused Nintendo shares to leap in value by the highest amount in four months. When Nintendo denied that this was an indication it was going to branch out into non-proprietary platforms, the share price dropped back down again.
The biggest threat to Nintendo's livelihood in the handheld market is the changing perception of what a handheld game truly is and what it's worth. You only have to look at reactions to the price of the iOS version of Final Fantasy Tactics to see how people's view of handheld pricing has changed. Anything over $10 -- even for a 40+ hour game -- is seen as "expensive" in the age of the smartphone, making Nintendo's new releases at $40 seem all the more unreasonable -- particularly when several of them are simply remakes of N64 titles.
Is it time for Nintendo to go the way of Sega in the handheld market, then, and concentrate on bringing its iconic franchises to the widest possible audience?
This article originally appeared on GamePro.com as Investors Believe Nintendo Should be Developing for Smartphones