Nintendo the iOS game maker

August 29th, 2013

I say they should just give in and start making iOS games. They’re not going to win this battle.

I wish John Gruber wouldn’t talk about games, because I don’t think he really understands them. Here he’s reacting to Nintendo’s surprise 2DS announcement.

Sure, Nintendo has a lot of problems. And, yes, many of them are a result of losing a vast amount of control over handheld gaming since the advent of iPhone. But still. He sees games/devices as a ‘battle’ in which sheer numbers are the only marks of success rather than long-term passion and wonderful expressions of creativity (you know, like many of the things he celebrates Apple for). He’s also ignoring the clear and present benefits of gaming-centric hardware. Like many, I don’t want a future in which handheld gaming devices don’t have physical buttons and joysticks. Broadly speaking, 3DS is better for games than an iPhone. Anyone who loves games should abhor the idea of them losing such vital parts of themselves.

I think also that the iPhone/iPod Touch argument as the ideal gaming device ignores the practicality of a (far cheaper) Nintendo handheld for kids. Among other reasons, they’re more or less indestructible and their games don’t include the terror of microtransactions.

And besides, Nintendo’s real issue right now is its bid for the living room, not the pocket, with the floundering Wii U. I’d be surprised if Nintendo hasn’t explored making iOS games in its labs, just to figure out what they are and how they work, but for Nintendo to simply become an app maker would be to lose its very soul.

NB I wrote a second part to this that hopefully makes me look less like a naive idealist (instead just an idealist).

2 responses to “Nintendo the iOS game maker”

  1. n0wak says:

    Gruber’s a troll. If you look at Daring Fireball 13 years ago, the tone was wholly different because, back then, Apple was the under-dog. Apple was the old style developer building a closed hardware/software ecosystem that was only used by some designers and production people and the odd nerd, in a world dominated by PCs and Microsoft.

    When people were saying that Apple should stop with OS and build their own PCs, because their hardware was good, I’m sure he was there shouting from the rooftops about keeping Apple separate; that their strength is in that fusion of hardware/software and the design they bring to it; that competition was good for the market and you needed SOMETHING to keep Microsoft in check an to innovate.

    But now that Apple’s the top dog, fuck everyone else. Be on iOS or lose. It’s such a hypocritical about-face in rhetoric.

  2. Alex Wiltshire says:

    Yeah, though actually now he’s posted a response where he denies a link with his old Apple/hardware argument.

    His paragraph about iOS’ lack of hardware buttons is really weak:

    No argument here that some games are better with real D-pads and physical buttons. (I can’t recall ever once truly enjoying a D-pad style game on the iPhone.) But there are other types of games that are better without D-pads and buttons. Some productivity tasks are better with physical keyboards too — that hasn’t halted the decline of QWERTY keyboard smartphones.

    That’s it? He’s happy to just turn his back on button-based games because touchscreen games sell better? Bah.