Nintendo 3DS Debate: iOS Comparison, To Buy?

iPhone Alley introduces our new editor debate series, beginning with a debate about Nintendo’s 3DS handheld system. Can it compete with iOS or is it dead-on-arrival? More importantly, is it worth the purchase?

Michael: Have you been interested in Nintendo’s 3DS?
Nikhil: Well I’ve never really thought about because of the options that the App Store provides for gamers, but it has come up when I talk to friends.
Nikhil: And you?
Michael: Normally I do not see its value at $170.
Michael: Though this week Best Buy is offering it plus a $50 gift card for its usual $170 price, so I’m very tempted.
Nikhil: Yes, I heard about that. I’m not sure how interested I am despite the sale,
Michael: I thought $100 would be the 3DS’s sweet point.
Michael: Honestly, I did not expect the price to drop so drastically from $250 just months later.
Nikhil: Likewise.
Michael: Price-wise, the main issue here is with games.
Nikhil: Yeah because you have an iPhone game ranging anywhere from $.99 to $9.99 (for quality titles) and then you have 3DS games at a much higher price range
Nikhil: Although, I’m not sure how comparable those two can be
Nikhil: Most 3DS games are developed by Nintendo or licensed developers, who as you’ve stated to me before, have higher budgets than iPhone developers
Michael: I can’t see myself spending 6 times the price of a great iPhone game on 3DS games
Nikhil: I know that you aren’t really an avid iPhone gamer but would that change if you owned a 3DS?
Michael: That actually is incorrect. While I’m not super-excited about $.99 casual games, I avidly follow development, especially of more console-quality iPhone titles.
Nikhil: It’s the exact opposite for me; I prefer more casual, endless games over higher budget games
Michael: To answer your question, my iPhone gaming habits would not change. In fact, I’m not sure how often I would use my 3DS after a few games and D demos
Michael: The 3DS has the disadvantage of how it can be left in a corner, while I constantly use iPhone so I’d be more tempted to play games on it
Michael: we could save the casual vs high-budget for another debate)
Nikhil: Same situation with me. I doubt I’d use a 3DS as often as I use my iPhone because my iPhone is my phone, and I take it around with me everywhere.
Michael: In fact, the main reason to buy a 3DS would be for Nintendo’s IPs. They’ll never make it to iOS until Nintendo’s handheld systems become launch failures.
Michael: Inevitably, the death of dedicated portable gaming systems is near.

Though for now, the 3DS has a place.
Nikhil: Basically, you’re saying that the main reason you’d buy a 3DS would be to enjoy your favorite classic titles?
Michael: Not necessarily classic titles, but classic series.
Michael: Mario, Zelda, etc. etc. etc.
Nikhil: Yes, although you can find very similar games for iOS, which could be another reason attributed to Nintendo’s potential failure
Michael: Also, some high-quality games released for the 3DS may never make it to the iPhone.
Michael: Look at Resident Evil: Mercenaries. The iPhone version looks like an utter p.o.s while the 3DS gets an impressive, totally different game.
Michael: Plus iPhone 4S, and likely iPhone 4, are much powerful than the 3DS.
Michael: It boils down to budget.
Nikhil: Yes, the Resident Evil series is horribly done for iOS
Michael: A $40 game can have much higher production values than a $3 game.
Nikhil: It’s evident that Capcom didn’t allocate as much of a budget for the iPhone title as they did for the 3DS title
Michael: On the 3DS, Mercenaries uses resources from the console versions of Resident Evil & while the iOS version suffers using an engine originally designed for ancient Java cell phones.
Nikhil: Exactly, they’ve got a higher selling point, which means more budget allocated towards production

I wish one developer would bite the bullet and attempt it on the iPhone.
Nikhil: Well they don’t see much profit in the endeavor
Nikhil: They’d have to sell the game for a lower price on iOS, to keep up with the norm, and they doubt that they can pull off porting the titles in their full potential
Michael: Say, what if Capcom released two versions of “Mercenaries” for the iPhone under different names? The $3 version & the $40 good version.
Michael: Which do you think would gross more?
Nikhil: But the price range couldn’t differ that much
Nikhil: I’d still say the $3 would do better
Michael: Well, that was the price range for the iPhone and 3DS games
Nikhil: Despite the fact that the current Mercenaries is pretty bad looking, it can still be found on the charts
Nikhil: Relatively near the top
Nikhil: But that brings us back to your earlier point, why can’t a developer just bite the bullet.
Michael: Though the $3 version would need to sell 13 times more copies to count for a copy of the $40, so it stands a chance
Nikhil: If their game was popular for Nintendo, and something that iOS gamers know, then even releasing a low-quality, low-budget option would attract customers
Nikhil: Heck, Nintendo could put together a quick Pokemon version for iOS, and they’d sell a few thousand copies at the very least
Nikhil: They just don’t because of their reputation I guess
Michael: A developer could potentially sell much more at $20 on iOS than $40 on 33DS even.
Michael: Developers just really don’t want to underprice content.
Michael: Well, if Pokemon was on iOS, then there would be much less reason for consumers to buy consoles
Nikhil: Well, would you buy a title brought officially from Nintendo if it looked like crap?
Michael: No
Nikhil: You may not, but other fans probably would
Michael: They would complain and rant about it, that’s why it isn’t worth doing.
Nikhil: It comes down to the familiar Apple situation; whatever they release, thousands would jump on it immediately
Nikhil: Yes, they would but there’s still money in it for them
Nikhil: It’s just their face that is getting destroyed
Michael: A cheap, stupid spin-off could make money initially but purchasers would more-than-likely be dissatisfied.
Nikhil: So I think that that and the fact that there would be no reason to buy Nintendo’s consoles are the reason behind Nintendo’s refusal to come to iOS
Nikhil: Dissatisfied, yes, but like I said there’s money in it. But no developer would ever do that because of the priority they give to their name
Michael: Undoubtedly, that would be Nintendo giving up on its staple of portable gaming devices if they begin releasing quality games on iOS
Nikhil: Yes that would but what if they only offered a few of their titles?
Nikhil: Give iOS gamers a taste, and save the rest for their own
Michael: They would still lose certain chunks of their consumer base
Nikhil: That would bring in tons of revenue from the large Apple, gaming fan-base as well as from the console fan-base.
Michael: A large audience for Nintendo is kids, and they seem to be happy as long as they can play the series they like
Michael: So even if small games are released for iOS, then they would not see the incentitive of a 3DS

But adults and teens alike also like the common Nintendo series
Michael: Still, that won’t sell enough units.
Michael: To entice developers and keep a consistent profit for Nintendo
Nikhil: But then how does their console market sell enough? Half the people I see have iPhones or iPod Touches or iPads, but then again I don’t see many kids.
Michael: Actually, iOS is already damaging Nintendo’s handheld power significantly.
Nikhil: Yes, which is the point that I’m making. iOS promises more revenue for Nintendo in my honest opinion
Michael: In Nintendo’s latest quarter, they lost $258 million.
Nikhil: But if they want to keep their consoles alive, then they can do what I suggested earlier
Nikhil: On paper, anyways, it makes sense, but I’m not professional marketer
Michael: While during this quarter last year, Nintendo made a profit of over $400 million.
Michael: Gamers have other sources for games on a device they always have with them
Nikhil: The 3DS was definitely innovative, and I’m not doubting that, but I still see more promise for Nintendo in iOS
Michael: So not many felt immediately compelled to buy a 3DS
Michael: Nintendo would be giving up if they offered new titles on iOS
Nikhil: If you go to forums like TouchArcade or anything else of the same breed, you’ll see gamers raving for Nintendo to come to iOS
Nikhil: So basically their reputation?
Michael: It would be a bad sign for stock as well if Nintendo experimented
Michael: They could perhaps offer NES titles, but then that’s like declaring the first step of the death of their hardware
Nikhil: Yes it would, because it’s risky holding stock not knowing what the outcome might be, but it would most likely me positive. Their share in the handheld gaming market is slowly decreasing and increasing for Apple, so they need to try and do something
Nikhil: Which they did do with the 3DS. That has certainly helped, but it hasn’t fixed the issue.
Michael: Nintendo may be forced into experimentation however. I don’t see them in the handheld hardware business in two years actually.
Nikhil: Exactly
Michael: Well, at practically $120, I see the 3DS as a fun distraction if anything.
Nikhil: My interest still isn’t peaked by the idea, but it all has to do with the gamer
Michael: So I may be purchasing one this week at Best Buy, thanks solely to their deal. Super Mario Land and the glasses-free 3D screen are both good enticements.
Michael: The 3DS can do different things than the iPhone and will have some potentially more enticing games. So, if Nintendo wants to move these, they’ll have to be at bargain bin prices.
Nikhil: I agree, we’ll see what happens
Nikhil: Let me know how you like that 3DS.
Michael: I will definitely post about it at least once on iPhone Alley this month, so look out for that if I do go ahead and buy myself one.

Let us know what you think in the comments. We believe that the IM-style format contributes to free-flowing, bold opinions. This is just a taste of what’s to come!