News Article

Iwata Hits Out at Smartphone and Social Network Game Developers

Posted by Trevor Chan

GDC comments draw critics from industry

For all the praise that Nintendo got from its appearance at the Game Developers Conference this year, it seems President and CEO Satoru Iwata came away from his keynote (which was streamed live) with as many satisfied fans as he did disgruntled critics.

During his speech, he made several comments on the differences between the goals of more traditional games developers, and those of mobile phone manufacturers and social networks, stating that the latter "have no motivation to maintain the high value of videogame software." Noting that having quality content and a good imagination is vital in the gaming industry, Iwata hit out at mobile phone manufacturers and popular social utility networks for their apparent lack of subscription to this core belief:

For them, content is something created by someone else... Their goal is to gather as much software as possible: quantity is what drives their profit. Quality does not matter to them.

Citing the high volume of games that are available for home consoles, Iwata acknowledges that it is a difficult task to get games noticed in this competitive age. It's even harder to produce big-sellers. The situation with the smartphone market is one that Iwata finds even worse; quoting figures from analysis firm Screen Digest, he concluded that smartphone software ― which number in the five-figure region ― are cheaper to make than retail games, and the majority are either free or extremely cheap. Convinced that the industry is no longer striving to make the best gaming experience as possible, and instead choosing to develop low-cost software, Iwata fears the industry is dividing and jeopardizing the jobs of developers who make a living from it.

Everyone's favourite research analyst at equities firm Wedbush Securities, Michael Pachter didn't agree with Iwata's perspective:

Long-term, Nintendo is doomed... He’s [Satoru Iwata] under full frontal assault by Apple.

Jeff Brown, the Vice President of Corporate Communication at Electronic Arts wasn't entirely convinced either:

He may be right, but then the 200 to 300 million people who play games on Facebook are wrong[?]... Social gaming as a whole aggregates into a business that is undeniably big money... When it’s that big you are forced to pay attention.

Zynga, the developer behind popular Facebook games such as Farmville, and Mafia Wars had a hard time agreeing with Nintendo's stance. The company's Chief Game Designer Brian Reynolds defended what developers like Zynga are doing and felt that the Nintendo CEO was missing the point:

I expected better from Nintendo. They are missing the point of what we are doing... We are making games that everyone can play and socialize on while playing.


From the web

User Comments (87)



LightSamus said:

Zynga annoys me, they probably do work hard to create such addictive games, but I don't think they deserve that much attention.



Cipher said:

I love the fact that, in other responses, people have said he's sour about WiiWare and Nintendo DSiWare being, as they put it, failures. I can only assume they went into a mild coma for the few seconds in which Iwata openly acknowledged the fact that the services had not lived up to Nintendo's own expectations.

Some people don't seem to realise that this man brought Nintendo back from near-certain doom and that he should be listened to. In my opinion, anyway...



Chris720 said:

Satoru might have hit a few nerves, but he's saying these things from what he's seeing and I think I'll agree with him. Not because I'm a fanboy, but because I can see where he's coming from.

And Long-term, Nintendo is doomed... He’s [Satoru Iwata] under full frontal assault by Apple. Excuse me, did I read that wrong? Apple just make iCrap and from my personal viewpoint, Apple are mere midgets compared to Nintendo, they've been in the business for years, Apple is trying to make themselves look bigger than what they are and I'll laugh when I finally see them kasplode all over the news. And yet again, Michael Pachter is talking out of his arse spewing fail.



Cia said:

Well, if people like Pachter want to play only bad and cheap games in the future, then let them go for it. I stick with Nintendo (and maybe other companies who invest real quality games, like Sony). Just because something is popular among people who doesn't know for better, does not make it good. And for Nintendo being doomed? Now that's a joke since they are the market leader of both home and portable consoles, and with 3ds they most certainly stay that way. Predicting that does not need a bad analyst, just common sense. Here's to hoping that the next home console they make will be a success too.



warioswoods said:

It's a much wider problem than just gaming. Recently Iwata also said that the competition for the 3DS is not exclusively the PSP2, but is comprised of Youtube, Facebook, and all the other amusements out there. The point is that the meaning of entertainment has shifted a bit due to the current emphasis on quick but mostly valueless distractions, making it hard to find a wide enough audience for something that has depth and requires your full attention for larger blocks of time.

I'd call it a part of our ADD culture, where I see everyone obsessively going online or playing quick games on their smartphones every time there is even one minute of downtime. Or, I see friends intentionally sticking to mindless films at home, because they can then half watch the film and half play with their phone. It's evidently too much to ask for an attentive, reflective engagement with anything for an hour or more.

Iwata has it right. I hereby invite him to come sit on the porch with me and shake our canes at youngsters.



DiggerandIndy said:

I think Iwata has totally hit the nail right on the head. Video games these days are totally on quantity, not quality. The "casual" games are so poorly made it's not even funny anymore, and the game manufacturers wonder why some people stick to retro games; because they're BETTER MADE!



Colors said:

Apple and facebook are just messed up. Nintendo is the main gaming franchise and they ain't goin' no where! You see what being aggravated does to me, it brings out my texas!



R-L-A-George said:

Zynga really doesn't know, "The Facebook App" is not an healthy concept, particularly for the people. FB apps get annoying, evidently when I said "Real gamers shouldn't be playing Facebook apps", Iwata agreed with me? The only apps I usually play is "bejeweled" and on occasion "robot unicorn attack", I've givin' up on the simulators...I've found out facebook apps make people crazy for some reason.[That might deserve a scientific study]



bboy2970 said:

Iwata is so right! People don't realize just how harmful these cheap little iGarbage games can be in the long run. It is absolutely sickening where our society has gone and how utterly stupid the average consumer has become. All the time I argue with people who are convinced that they don't need to buy a DS because they can just get that stuff for 99 cents on there iWhatever. They don't understand that the vast majority of those games are CRAP and don't have a tenth of the time and care invested into some DS projects. If things continue this way and people continue turning into iDrones, the industry will truly be in trouble....



moosa said:

You cant say something like this without people misunderstanding, not wanting to believe it, and scratching and clawing for a reason to say he's wrong. Iwata knows exactly what he's saying and it isn't difficult to understand exactly what he means, and he's completely right.

Apple (and other "mobile" companies) are not game companies. They DO NOT care in the slightest about the quality of games released for their platforms, because they don't make money by making games. They make money by selling their hardware and off of the software sales of others. I'm not saying they're EVIL, just that that's the way it is. Their business model is obviously very effective right now, but its harmful for the industry, and Iwata is pointing out why.



Tails said:

Nintendo is going back to the core fans . Nintendo needs to (in my opinion) just put their foot down and basically say "Your either with us or against us." I for one no matter what will stay on Nintendo's side. I've stuck by them through worse times. Long live the core gamers. Down with casual gamers.



SilverBaretta said:

As much as I do like Apple (yeah, yeah), I honestly can't see them overtaking an industry that they weren't even focused on in the first place. It's not like they have a division especially for creating video game hardware. That's just one slice of the pie. Gaming on their hardware is just a nice way to kill a few minutes, but people are analyzing it and taking it like everybody sits down and plays their phone for hours on end. I don't know a single person who does that, and if they do, I feel rather sorry for them. Sure there's money in this "quick and easy" game thing now, but once something new comes along, people will flock to that. The thing is, there will be a quick period of the older thing losing popularity and the other not quite at juggernaut status yet. And you know who will still be in it in that short period of transition? Consoles. And that would be the time to strike.



arrmixer said:

at the end of the day, everything in life has its cycles especially with new phenomenon like wireless devices...... eventhough everybody including myself see how everybody is content with just anything to entertain themselves just to past the time because their "bored".... After a while, the social website/reality TV phenomenon will die out and something else will come along...
In other words, only events that people truely love to experience will continue sports, true gaming, movies, excercise, etc...
Eventhough, I see Iwata's point, one day the mobile/social gaming phenomenon's bubble will burst....



BlueBandanaJake said:

The fact that 200 to 300 million people who play Facebook games doesnt disprove what Iwata's opinion in the slightest, if anything it makes it more easily applicable. Thats alot of people who are attracted to these low value games, and that's unfortunate. The guys are Zynga are only interested in profit, and less much interested in providing entertainment and fun for people, it's not their passion, as Mr. Iwata spoke about in his keynote. Nintendo will always have the upperhand, because they've always got their passion backing their software.



jaffa said:

Facebook games? You've got to be kidding me right? They shouldn't even be classified as games more like social interaction with one another,also whoever thinks Facebook games are fun probably have never played a proper videogame



Swiket said:

"I for one no matter what will stay on Nintendo's side."

Yes, long live brand loyalty and bias!



melvin2898 said:

Apple is good but only like the top 300 paid games are good. Most of the games are trash but I like the paid ones. Don't count apple out. I'm sure those Facebook games are fun also.



madgear said:

I think there will always be two markets - there's no way Apple has doomed Nintendo because, despite the popularity of Iphone apps, they're never going to replace a good Super Mario/Metroid/Zelda game.

Saying that, the app games will also exist too because they're cheap and quick to play. Most people generally play them whilst travelling or whilst having to wait somewhere. I personally never download apps - I have some games on my phone but they're emulated so not the same. There'll always be people like me who want a high quality title over a simple puzzle game.



y2josh said:

I'm tired of hearing about smart phones in the gaming world and I thought that facebook games were already starting to die, they are in my group of friends anyways.



Pahvi said:

I don't know about social network games, but as for iOS and Android games, I am very much in favour of them. Lesser development expenses mean that small groups of enthusiasts have an easier way of getting involved without as much personal financial risk. Another question is, what is the worth of the extra polish on the game? It's tempting to just say "let the consumers decide which model they prefer."

I'm not interested in how much time and effort was spent in making a game. I'm interested in how much fun I'm having playing it for the price it cost me. As for "social gaming bubble" bursting... what if it's the "console/handheld game pricing" that bursts?



jaffa said:

BUT! who am I to say anything on this subject, I can't be bothered to play Facebook games since just throw up looking at them.



artofmana said:

At the same time I agree with a Iwata and a lot of the sentiment expressed in the comments, I will defend gaming on my iDevices. I happen to applaud Apple for their incredible design--hardware and software. In fact, I often thought how Nintendo and Apple created similarly well designed products during the era of DS Lite and Wii. Now, I feel that the 3DS is shifting away from the sleek design and it saddens me. But that's not the point. It's the gaming I was going to talk about, right? Well, I will agree there are serious concerns. Price points plummeting, more shovelware than the age o' Atari. In fact, the volume of the App Store COULD create a video game crash though probably not due to the amount of games that are free or so cheap people often feel they made a good buy even if they only play something for an afternoon--and if you REALLY wanted, most games have a demo. That being said, there are legitimately good games on iDevices. Games that are better updates of DS games exist on there. Then there are originals that are just plain great. These are games I can and have sat down for hours to play. They may be much rarer than the cheap time-wasters, but they do exist. Anyway, I see it as much more nuanced. Heck, I just downloaded a game called Tiny Wings which is a 99 cent "sound bite" game but its quality and presentation rival many full console games I've played.



Slapshot said:

-The total sales of ALL the combined Mario Games Worldwide sits around 180 Million Total across all platforms.

-Zynga has 65 millions users daily, and pushing on 300 Million Users!

That has an impact on the gaming world whether us core gamers like it or not. Iwata knows this, and is very accurate in his response to this issue.



mark3 said:

Saturo Iwata is telling it just like it is. I don't think Iwata was just talking about mobile games hurting Nintendo, but could potentially start to hurt Microsoft and Sony as well. I wouldn't mind paying for a $40 dollar game that I can play for months( even years) than some $1 itrash game. If this isn't fixed in the long run, The BIG 3 could be facing some very serious problems in the future.



erv said:

People on nintendo sites always underestimate the powerful experience apple devices provide, and people on apple sites always understate the experience nintendo products provide.

Wake up people, times are changing and nintendo needs a way to harbor their profits. I play my iphone hours on end with games like gta: chinatown wars. Very good stuff, better than the ds version in gameplay - and I played them both.

idevices don't provide experience, developers provide experiences. Saying apple products are bad because of the boatload of crappy games available is like saying wii is bad because of ninja reflex being available. D'oh!

Meanwhile, I'm always buying the latest nintendo console and its quality games. But I'm also playing that iphone instead of a ds, so nintendo should pay attention.



NintyMan said:

Of course Iwata should be aware of the mobile gaming fad, but when people like the all-knowing Pachter say that Nintendo’s doomed and Iwata just doesn’t get it, they lose credibility and Iwata looks smarter as a result. For the life of me, I can’t imagine a fully fleshed-out Mario or Zelda game fall to a simple game that’s only good for a few minutes. It does not make sense. Yes, millions of people play those kinds of games, but there’s also millions of people that play worthwhile games that actually have substance. I don’t mind someone playing a phone game to kill time, but to think that it’s better than a console game is sad.



Glade said:

I Just have one thing to say about Iwata. Dam Right!!!! most of those games for I phone or android are total mess. They don't even last very long and most you can look back at and wonder... why did I even download this. Then there're facebook games.. FAIL. Those from Zynga like Farmville didn't even last me a month, yet some ppl play this until the get fired. Then there're others like Ninja Saga which are almost pointless. There is absolutely no quality, I repeat NO QUALITY in any of these games. Satoru really makes a point with his comments, those games are really hurting the true gaming industry... But the the three leaders will always be Nintendo, Sony and ugh... Microsoft. The day that ever changes the world really will go kabooom!!! And for so called critics like Patcher well maybe he's living in another dimension.
Rant ended...



J-Forest-Esq said:

It's all very well just dismissing the games on the app store as "irubbish" or what have you, but there are plenty of great titles available. It's true that there's a huge amount of shovelware and you've got to wade through it, if you want to get to the good stuff, but that's the nature of the app store service. It allows the untalented as well as the talented developers to make games for your idevice. The best apps are the simple ones, somebody mentioned Tiny Wings and that's a great example of efficient developing from a developer who may not have got a chance on another platform. Having said that, I'll always prefer a meatier game from Nintendo than something from the app store and the sensible core gamer will always realise that they are going to get less out of a £1 app store game than a dedicated gaming platform. In general the people I know who play the worse apps don't have any sort of dedicated gaming device so in effect, Apple has just won over the people who wouldn't be playing Sony/Nintendo games anyway. I don't see the app store as too great a threat to be honest.
Facebook games are an entirely different beast and are generally a bit pants.



47drift said:

The negative responses to Iwata only prove one thing:
Haters gonna hate.
Creativity is dead. It's all about the money now. Good thing I can always count on the companies I grew up with to keep on keepin' on, but other than them, it's all about selling simplistic, idiot-proof games, and only in parts which all must be paid for. And then releasing those games over and over and over again.



ville10 said:

I really think all those people who have responded has missed the point. Iwata basically says that quality is falling, not necessary that the fun factor is lower. Look at App Store as an example. Firstly there are tons of awful games that the good ones get lost among. But more importantly, look at the best of those games, such as Angry Birds. It's great fun for shorter sessions, but it is nothing compared to the Mario games, as an example. No depth, no real variation, no innovation.

But many people think it's enough, as they only play a little now and then. And that's why the companies that make the great games are having a hard time, even though the superior quality they have problems motivating their prices. You might get more enjoyment for your money with them, but being able to spend almost nothing over and over to try new things is more appalling to the large crowd.



3Daniel said:

I have to agree with Nintendo. Farmville and other games like it are lowest common denominator stuff. They lack the imagination. You could never compare the artistic gameplay of Ocarina of Time to Farmville. I also don't see Nintendo doomed in the future either. The company has existed for over a century. They may one day abandon gaming, but will rebound somewhere else.

Not to mention that Nintendo is ALWAYS attempting to offer something its competitors can't, with the Gamecube it was family friendly and connectivity(not everything is a success FYI), with the WII motion control, the DS had touch control and dual screens and the 3DS is going to offer glasses-free 3D. Not to mention everything Nintendo does has its typical Nintendo quirk(even Wii Music had its moments although not much).

My biggest selling point with gaming CONSOLES over gaming apps is that with the Wii we got 4 + plus years. After only a year, theres already a new iPAD coming. eventually Apple is going to faulter. .



pixelman said:

Sigh... more ignorance.

1. There's way more to the App Store than $0.99 shovelware.

EA is supporting iOS in full force. There's the recent critically acclaimed Dead Space, which serves as a tie-in between the two console games, and then there's their port of NBA Jam, which was also well-received with the critics. One of my favorite games they've published is Reckless Racing, which is an original title.

Epic Games — the makers of Gears of War — also released Infinity Blade last year, which got tons of GOTY awards.

Square's remaking Final Fantasy III and apparently Chrono Trigger. Sega's released Sonic 4.

There's also the fantastic Monkey Island remakes, Real Racing 2, and tons of great indie games. The maker of Cave Story has even said he wants his next project to be for the iPhone and iPad.

2. iOS devs are better at supporting their games than on other systems.

I paid 5.99 for Infinity Blade. This month they doubled the game's size — for free. And there's still more free content updates to come, including new modes like online multiplayer. This is one example out of a hundred thousand. Devs are continually adding new free content, fixing bugs, and listening to customer feedback to improve their games. You don't find this kind of service on a Nintendo system.

3. Why is cheap a bad thing, when it means millions can buy it?

Seriously. EA can afford to sell a high profile game like Dead Space for 10 bucks because they know that millions of users can easily access it and afford it. There's no publishing/distribution costs — Apple gets a cut in the sales, that's all.

Heck, I don't hear you guys complaining about WiiWare games being cheap. All I see on the Nintendo Download comments sections anymore is complaints about how the DSiWare releases are utter crap.

4. The 99 cent games that are legit crap don't sell.

They don't make the top charts. They get no exposure. They just sit somewhere on Apple's servers wasting space. Occasionally you'll get a crap game that rises up the charts, but it's usually free and being promoted by a site like

Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja don't count. People legitimately love playing them, including myself.

Okay, /fanboyrant. I'm just as big a Nintendo fan here as anyone — I've diligently got my 3DS pre-ordered, and I've been playing Nintendo systems ever since I can remember. :3



MasterGraveheart said:

Iwata has a point. I do have a COUPLE games on my iPod, but I don't go seeking out their games. Just a couple of board game games (Go, Shogi, Backgammon, Reversi/Orthello) and Angry Birds. Maybe a puzzle here and there. But when I want to get my game on, I go to a game platform.

(I want BUTTONS, darn it! My finger is too inaccurate! x.x;; )

Nothing TERRIBLY wrong with the "social network games," but in the long run, they're just money sucking time wasters, and yes, 200 to 300 million people ARE wrong in this case. Not for playing the games, but for what they invest into them. Some people are investing actual money to get special items for their farms, cities, or mafias just for the sake of boasting "Mine is bigger and better then yours!" It's sad and disturbing.



Squiggle55 said:

It probably wasn't a good idea for Iwata to make those negative comments heaping a large group of developers into one basket. But I also don't see what Pachter is talking about. If digital content takes over the world then Nintendo will simply reinvent itself again.

And I wouldn't write off Apple either like some people are. All they need to do is make Apple TV compatible with the games you download and let you use your Ipad as a controller for some games and come out with a more traditional controller for other games. I think they're in good position for the digital future of gaming.



LunarJade said:

I hardly think Nintendo is doomed at the moment.

However I'm glad that they seem to be paying attention to anything that attracts people's attention. It shows they're listening and hopefully that they'll continue to change with the market.

I think Nintendo will continue going for two reasons.
1. They hold many popular franchises that can't be found on any other hardware. (I seriously think it would be a sign that they don't have faith in their own hardware if these franchises started showing up on other consoles.)
2. They are paying attention to what's going on in the market. The article above proves that much. They know that people game on their phones and they understand why. How does he hope to fight that? Continue with quality.

When I look at the 3DS, I see a gaming device. But it also gets pointed out again and again that there are other features on it that would be appealing to those who are "non-gamers".
I think that shows how much they are paying attention and that they are trying to capture up even more of the market than before.



Tylr said:

Quality over Quantity, we've all heard that before right? I've always known Nintendo as a quality company. Never paid much attention to Apple back in the day. I thought Apple were the heroes of computers or something along the lines of that. Now its iPod, iPhone, or iPad or iWhatever. Heck, what, at this point, doesn't start with an "i"? My point is Apple took the "handheld" game industry by storm, like Sony took the game industry back in the day, if you could count an iPhone, iPad, or etc as a gaming device. No wait that's an overstatement. Most games on the iPhone are just cheap, quick little entertainment tools. Others are interesting to say the least. But you probably won't find as many games that have good depth and quality like on the DS. I'm not saying the DS has no bad games, its got its fair share, but it certainly would be a little easier to pick up a decent game randomly off the shelve. I'd prefer to buy my video games at a Gamestop in the flesh rather than download some from an online store, hey, might be more of a hassle, but that's just me, and you'd get more bang for your buck. Did i make any sense? Did i sound like too much of a fanboy? I feel like Cranky Kong...

I agree with Iwata.



JayArr said:

Iwata is a hypocrite.

He rags on FB and App games but releases countless pieces of over-priced garbage on WiiWare and DSiware.



moosa said:

@pixelman Iwata never said Apple was bad. He never said there weren't good games on the service and etc. He's talking about the effect on the industry and those involved with it. The lack of a standard of quality (for every excellent game there's 10 that would be a waste of time if they were free), the challenge of exposure, and the lack of cost/risk involved in development for so many of these games are all factors that have a big impact on an industry where millions of dollars can be spent on production of a big game that doesn't sell. MONEY is such a huge factor in everything that happens with core gaming these days, and when a no-name, one-man independent developer can make better profits on a no-cost/no-risk game app than a huge company can on their big-budget console release that was in development for two years, employing hundreds of people, THAT really shakes the foundation of the industry.

Long story short, many of these people that work on these traditional, complex, core-gamer type games are in danger of losing their jobs when all the money is going towards little low-budget apps.

That's pretty much the point Iwata was trying to make.



Ristar42 said:

I'm not much in to smart phones or online social networking... I do like videogames however.

I'd say the difference between time waster 'app' style games and actual games is much like reading a cheap magazine or a decent book, that you'll actually remember.



moosa said:

Oh one other thing... As much as I enjoy low prices (I love nabbing PS2 classics on eBay for $3 a piece), I have to emphasize this. Having oodles of freebie apps and 99c apps available can really start to spoil consumers, to the point where they would look at some $60 game that was just released and think that was some crazy amount of money. It IS a big investment, but many people may have a harder time understanding the difference in what you get for that investment. That's a big part of the "quality" issue, when people start questioning the sensibility of paying that much for "a videogame." As core gamers it's probably a bit harder to understand that.



Kirk said:

The truth is the companies like Zynga don't actually produce particularly great games but they do produce the equivalent of effective and addictive gambling systems like Pachinko or something like that in that the main design elements behind them are based on how to get people addicted to playing the games for a long time, and ultimately putting more and more money into them, as opposed to actually being really fun well designed gaming entertainment.

It's really just about rewarding people for doing the same thing over and over and increasing the reward and feedback over time but ultimately to little end.

Games like Farmville are certainly addictive to a lot of people but that's more a testament to the understanding of basic human psychology and additive personality traits than it is a testament to them making good games imo.

Maybe it's just a sign of the times but I see these games as more taking advantage of the weak minded sheep like followers than actually giving them something truly entertaining and rewarding in the long run.

Also, Nintendo is absolutely right about the whole idea that to companies like Apple it is so much more about quantity and volume than it is about quality. As long as there a hundreds of thousands of Apps out there Apple is happy raking in the money. It's just lucky that among those hundreds of thousands of Apps some developers are actually trying to make good games too.



Luffymcduck said:

"He may be right, but then the 200 to 300 million people who play games on Facebook are wrong"

Yes, they are.



RYBlast said:

I have an iPhone to listen to music and go on the Internet, and occasionally play games. I play my DS to play while I'm in the plane, car, or when I'm bored in bed. I have my iPhone games to kill time while waiting for the bus or in line for 5 minutes, etc. There is a huge difference between a dedicated gaming machine and a phone that is used for multiple things. The only reason people play Farmville is because it's free, no one would have given a crap about it if it was for money.
And Pachter said that the Wii and PS3 were doomed beforer they came out, so his words should not be taken seriously.



FluttershyGuy said:

The doom of Nintendo and traditional video gaming, with a move toward cheap smartphone and social gaming, is what I fear with all my heart. If Farmville and games like Zynga makes are the future of gaming, then I guess I need to get busy looking for a new hobby. Farmville, Mafia Wars, et cetera drove me away from Facebook (though I was bored/disinterested in it from the beginning). Friends nagging me to do those insipid games when I had no interest in them and couldn't make my disinterest any clearer.

On the "rewarding people" segment of your post, sounds to me like you're saying the Zynga games are like real life. And I agree!



koops330 said:

Zynga needs to go die in a hole and stay out of the video game world. Nintendo is right about it stance against games like Farmville



moosa said:

@44.Kirk You're completely right. I played Restaurant City (by Playfish) for a while. It was addictive. It even got a little bit of my money. Ultimately it became very clear to me how big a waste of time it was. Those games are all engineered for addiction, and to eventually prod some (or a lot of) money out of you. It's really sad how many people are addicted to those games. At some point it becomes no longer about having fun anymore, but instead you keep playing because you're afraid not to. People are terrified of the idea of missing one day in the game because they've already invested so much into it and can't bear the thought of those consequences put in place for when you play any less than obsessively. It is truly, literally engineered addiction.




Iwata is right, but it doesn't stop these games being addicting sometimes.

I don't see apple or social network gaming as proper gaming at all though - even in the casual sesne. I am well aware what you can download as well as I have played these games.



R-L-A-George said:

Farmville and several other games are not, its mostly games that you can play for free but the way they make money, is off of suckers with credit cards. When you play those simulators, theres always something asking you to buy with actual money. Also I think Iwata is regretting the limit on DSiWare and WiiWare.



Kurona said:

I agree with him a bit. Sure, there are TONS of poorly made games on the app store, but there's also a couple of gems. Like Cut the Rope, Angry Birds, Tiny Wings. They're wonderful ways to pass the time, but I think I would rather play Chrono Trigger for hours on end than those games.
Also, I don't like Zynga and never will, after reading an article about them:



FluttershyGuy said:

Geez Louise! Forget Zynga. They should be called Copynga! IMO, Pincus has shamed the memory of his bulldog he named the company after.



Moco_Loco said:

I think @moosa hit the nail on the head about what Iwata's saying here. If everyone just gives away low-quality games, then the market for big-budget high-quality games could dry up. Personally I think there's room for both kinds of games, as there is a big difference between buying a 99-cent game which basically amounts to a YouTube video and buying a $50 epic game, more equivalent to a blockbuster movie like Avatar.

The trouble is that even Nintendo sometimes charges $50 for something that is worth more like $10-$15. Other times, the developers tried really hard but made some fundamental mistakes. This is where the whole idea of updating games comes in, and this is an area Nintendo needs to explore and implement. Smartphone games, DS games, and console games all have their place, and offering only high-quality games at retail is now more important than ever.



PSICOffee said:

I feel another video game crash arising from this constant stream of crap titles out there. The market is becoming over-saturated again, and its only a matter of time until collapse. I generally like what Pachter says, but he's a millionaire who just knows a lot about video games.

Nintendo won't fall. They're the ones who brought video games back in the US, and they'll be the ones to live when other companies die because they put their full heart and soul into what they do.

Oh, and I knew Pixelman would leave a die-hard comment supporting Apple and cheap games.



1080ike said:

There's a reason I stick with Nintendo: they've been in this business the longest out of pretty much all game makers around today. I think that they'd know what they're doing by now.



pixelman said:

@57. Any problem with that? I happen to enjoy portable games, and iOS has tons good ones. It irks me that people randomly assume that all the system has is Angry Birds and 99 cent shovelware (which is absolutely false), and then tear apart the system. It's the same kind of fanboyish ignorance that's behind the assumptions that all the Wii has are wagglefests and all the 360 and PS3 have are shooters.

But what'ev's, I guess it's a losing fight. Haters gonna hate. :/



wedgeredleader said:

While the AppStore has too much... crap ware, I really like a lot of the titles that are currently on it. Many console games have their own ports to iOs like sonic, final fantasy, and secret of mana. What makes the app store appealing to me is the price point in which most apps are under $9.99. The majority of titles at .99 (unless on sale) will usually not be worth it, but some of the higher priced games, I have put some good hours into. Albeit nowhere near what I have put into any traditional console game, but still enough for me to call it a viable gaming platform. Now facebook games and the like, in my eyes, don't represent any threat whatsoever to any real video games.



Slapshot said:

Moosa indeed has hit it correctly. The issue that Iwata and Patcher are talking about the the flooded market. Not only are there many non-games and cheap low quality game in the thousands everywhere, but even good games are releasing every week.

I remember the years when this time of year was the dead-time for gamers. Magazine would be thin for months because of lack of reviews, and content. Then the holidays would kick things into full force, and all the big budget titles would release, and gamers would load up with games to play for the year.

Today it's impossible to keep up with all the games that release. I can't for the life of me keep up. There are loads of Amazing titles I want to play but still haven't been able because of too many games available, and too little time. DKC Wii, Red Steel 2, Radiant Historia, and Epic Mickey to name just the bare few, not to mention Bulletstorm, and Dragon Age on PS3. My shelves are loaded with games I've yet to even start playing as well.

What does all this mean? It means the games, Individually, aren't selling as many copies anymore. There is just too many titles available with iOS, Indy, Wii, PS3, 360, PC, DS, PSP, PSP Minis, DSiWare, WiiWare, Steam, Facebook, FeeWare, etc. Many of these games that are being played are low value games, but are Free to Cheap and keep money from being spent on the games that are developed by major publishers, such as Nintendo. This is why the big name studios are dropping are failing, and high value developers are failing, and low value cash-in developers like Zynga are thriving.

The gaming industry is in a bad state right now, and yes this could effect Nintendo. The sales for their big budget titles are nowhere where they really should be right now. Galaxy 2 should have sold double what it did, but it didn't. Just like all the other great games out there today, but people see $5 vs $60 and are choosing the cheaper option.

All of this is before factoring in Used Game Sales which take even more money away from the developers.



Tony3DS said:

Ipods are for music.
Nokias are for phone calls.
Garmins are for GPS....and Nintendos are for video games.

My Ipod classic has almost 100 GB of music so that rules out any iphone model or DSi. My Android phone calls the wrong number every other time (I miss you Nokia). When I wake up every morning I want to play Pokemon HG for a few minutes in bed....Mario All-Stars and DKC in the afternoon, and Animal Crossing to relax at night.

I know a wide range of people and not one of them plays Farm-whatever (maybe they are ashamed).

Thank you Apple for the gift of music without cd-wallets.
Thank you Nokia for a clear cell phone call no matter what carrier.
Thank you Nintendo for all the great games!



Wolfenstein83 said:

Nintendo is not doomed, that's just crazy to say, but there is as much garbage software on the Wii and DS as there are good games.
"For them, content is something created by someone else... Their goal is to gather as much software as possible: quantity is what drives their profit. Quality does not matter to them."
Well I hate to say it, and I know that comment was directed at Apple, but that comment may also reflect the weak 3rd party support the big N has had over the years, not to mention, like I said before, there are some low quality games on the Wii too, not just on other systems.
Hey, I am a Nintendo fan all way, but I think better words could have been chosen to express their worries.
I think Apple is cool too, but I don't see how they are a threat to Nintendo, and if that is the case then Sony and Microsoft better watch out as well.
All the different companies/developers offer something different, for different people.
I don't think there will ever be a monopoly where there is just one game system or company to rule them all, that's just crazy.
There will always be diversity, and if we can't have that, then say goodbye to the gaming industry as we know it.
The scary thing is that, if something did happen, Nintendo has nothing else to fall back on, they are pretty much a gaming company only.
Sony and Microsoft have other assets they can fall back on and still make money.



AVahne said:

A bit harsh of Iwata, but I don't support the other much either. I still don't see what's so fun about Farmville or Mafia Wars.
Now then, where's my Endless Ocean 3DS?



komicturtle said:

Patcher should be disregarded because it seems as though the man doesn't have anything intelligent to say.

Iwata made a point and pointed out the inconvinient truth. People can't handle it. I'm referring particularly to the 'divide'. And yeah, MOST of those silly games flooding the app store and Facebook are shortlived, uninspired games.

Zynga, you shouldn't say anything at all. I know you're sending my email off to third-parties to spam my box so you can earn money. And the concept of the games you make are pathetic. No way am I going to get up at 4AM just because my Pot Roast is in the oven- (same goes for lame Farmville).



PSICOffee said:

@pixelman Nope, no problem with that at all. In fact, I've left plenty of rants in the comments on this site myself. I understand where you're coming from.



WhiteTrashGuy said:

Iwata is right. It's like when VHS came about in the late 70's and exploded in the early 80's; more and more people were making trash because they could sell it straight to the video market for quick consumption. This has created an entire generation (myself included) who spent their late nights at sleep overs watching Warlock II: Armageddon instead of tackling THE GODFATHER or THE EXORCIST. Gaming has A LOT of trash nowadays, and mobile/social gaming is making that worse. If you want to play a Social Game, go play an MMO.



SwerdMurd said:

oh Iwata....way to alienate the current largest gaming demographic with poorly-chosen words.

Whether they're right or not is of no consequence. There were good games on every system--Atari Jaguar even had a couple decent titles. Personally this is the first Nintendo generation where I feel they've fallen way more on the side of quantity vs. quality anyway--I don't think it's fair to jab quite so forcefully at Apple just because they created an incredibly low-maintenance business model that prints them cash. People like me who think touch screen input is mostly garbage will keep buying games on platforms that suit us. Making people on the other side feel in any way wrong about their choice of gaming, however, is stupid plain and simple.

Personally I think he should've ripped more on Apple's vice-like grip over what their consumers can actually use their devices for than trying to rip on one of the few outlets for truly new, non-cookie-cutter content. The worst thing about Apple anything has always, and will always be dealing with Apple. Leave the low-budget devs that are finally getting a chance to shine alone, even if they make simply-aimed games.



astarisborn94 said:

I do agree with his statement in general, but while I'm not a huge fan of iPhone, not everyone has time to take time to play a hour of Super Mario Galaxy or among other game. Some want to be able to play on the go and iPhone games are the best option for a quick five minutes play.



motang said:

I don't blame him, I hate those crappy disposable social/iOS games! Of course there are few exceptions to it like Infinity Blade and Dead Space for the iPhone they are pretty cool.



gojiguy said:

Iwata makes a good judgement call here. if games continue in this cheap-and-plenty way then jobs will be lost and the market will crash.

This is the Atari days all over again.

Pop Cap made a similar statement when they put Peggle on the iphone for $1 for a day. Stating that Apple's pricing structure and store structure doesn't support quality but inexpensiveness.



mike_intellivision said:

One thing that people are missing, when talking about how great mobile games are, is that EA and SE and others are mining old software to produce these cheap games.

In other words, the R&D for Dead Space and Chrono Trigger have already been done. Thus, the pre-existing console versions have made it cheap to port them. [I only wish EA had spent as much time porting NfS: HP to the Wii as it did to the iPhone.]

I also wonder how many people only DL demos and freebies. I do that. I won't pay Namco $8 for a game that I already own on a console.
Basically, Iwata is telling people what the future could look like. And they don't want to hear it.

Mike from Morgantown



electricJY said:




Crunc said:

I don't play my DSi any more, pretty much. I play games on my iPhone way, way more. In fact I play games on my iPhone more then I play games on our 360, Wii, N64, PS2 and Gamecube, probably combined. There are many high quality games for iOS and at a dramatically lower cost to the buyer, and the iPhone is just so much more of a convenient platform to play on - it's small, light and I always have it with me. I'm going to be getting an iPad 2 now as well. I won't be getting a 3DS. They're asking too much for it and the games, and I say that even though the 3DS is cheaper by a wide margin then an iPad, at least the hardware - the games, of course, cost way more, and in the long run the iPad 2 is cheaper and does so much more and does it so well. Well, aside from glasses-free 3D. To me the value of the 3DS isn't there, at least not yet, while the value of the iPad 2 is patently obvious to me.



Lotice-Paladin said:

Both points are wrong and right. Quality gaming maybe in trouble due to smaller, cheaper games...but at the same time, these small games are what the majority play in their spare time (which isn't much).

Both parties seem to not like what the other is saying because money is involved...whether Nintendo like it or not social gaming and cheaper gaming is here to stay. It won't effect the mainstream gamers one bit so why do people care as we have more variety?



DarkKirby said:

I agree with Iwata. When I see people and the media talk about how phone and tablet games are making consoles obsolete and how freakishly amazing Angry Birds is... it leaves me wondering where society is going. These people have obviously never been to newgorunds (which has tons of flash games of much higher caliber then Angry Birds and are free, made by independent developers), much less have put in the time to understand console games instead of thinking that video game consoles are for kids, or console games are too confusing for me or have nothing of interest to me. But Angry Birds? THAT'S amazing (really?!). Smartphone and social network game creators obviously feel insulted, as this is an outright attack on them. I don't think it's as much of a problem that these cheap simple games exist as much as most people don't know there is a fundamental difference between their super simplified phone/tablet/social network games they love so much and well made console games and actually think these games can even hold a candle to good console games, much less, replace them. Jeff Brown has been adamant about how he feels the companies that produce games should have 100% of the profits and the platform creators shouldn't get a penny, but that's speaking more out of his pocket then his brain. The platform creators are currently fighting a war against piracy so game producers don't have to do it themselves.



lex0plex said:

Yeah, don't worry Iwata, cell phone games will never replace consol games. But you don't need to insult them. I fully support independent developers for iPhone and iPad and continue to play awesome video games for multiple home consols and computer. Theres no need to attempt to OWN the entire market. Where's the fun in that?



warioswoods said:

Iwata's further comments

"Even among the downloadable games there have got to be some high quality software and even among the games for dedicated game machines there has got to be some software we cannot call high quality. The one thing we really wanted to stress was whether or not the platform holder has the mindset or the motivation to keep the high value of the software. Nintendo is not only a hardware platform holder but also the software publisher. We really want to maintain the high value of the software. So from the very beginning, Nintendo has always thought that the content is the most important thing. That is why Nintendo has been operating very carefully to never hurt the value of the sofware. If the platform holder itself is not developing or producing software, their primary concern tended to be the quantity rather than the quality, which actually is not going to be a good thing for those who are developing software. Our message today was to be aware of the situation."




moosa said:

It should also be noted that Iwata's words were directed towards developers and those in the industry, not to us, the consumers. He is, once again, warning about potential dangers within the industry, not saying anyone's products are good or bad.



Bassman_Q said:

There really is no game service in existence that doesn't have a whole bunch of crapware. I personally think that Nintendo should allow indie developers who develop for mobile phones to develop for them as well. I mean, there could be some cool and imaginative games that come out of it. As long as they have a good imagination or ideas with it, I see no reason to not allow them to develop.

And as for Iwata's speech against the crapware on mobile devices such as the iPhone, he should take a good look at WiiWare and DSiWare. They aren't terrible, as great games DO exist on these services, but I'm sure at least 75-90% of the games on the service are just downright crap.



ToastyYogurt said:

Easy for Zynga to say. A lot of their games are copied from other Facebook games (Farmville is copied from Farm Town, Cafe World is a copy of Restaurant City, etc.).



GreenDream said:

I think Nintendo's stance in this issue is a rabid wolf in sheep's wool. I would be more empathetic to Mr. Iwata if he declared that Nintendo would not create games like Wii Play ever again. Refusing shovelware like Ninjabread Men would be another plus. I'm just holding him and his company to the high standards they (hopefully) dream of becoming commonplace.



Bobpie said:

Thank you, Pixelman (35). I couldn't have said it better myself. It's okay to have a bias, but only if you can back it up.



Vinsanity said:

Iwata's right; all you have to do is look at Zynga's garbage to justify his statements. The problem is when you have publishers actually look at it and deem it worthy of supporting because it makes money. that. And great for Nintendo for ignoring it.

Social games are the equivalent of reality tv. Terrible, cheap to make and easy to make money off of. So everyone's going to rush to make bank on it right now. That doesn't mean Jersey Shore is a good show, . If Nintendo's wrong about this, than "gamers" 15 years from now are just going to be idiots wasting their time on crap like Mafia Wars 6. And that would just be the death knell to the gaming industry.

Everyone has been saying these things for awhile. Iwata's just the first one to say it out loud, and he gets criticism for it? - he should've been applauded.



Mach-X said:

Wow I can't believe the elitism this article has inspired among my fellow NL users. Calling iphone users 'dumb' and mindless is the kind of tasteless closemindedness usually reserved for sony fans! You think cheap crummy games are new?! How many terrible atari 2600 games nearly killed the industry in 1983? You ever play Wrath of the Black Manta or Bible Games on NES? Cheap crummy games have always been around. And who are we to tell Facebook fans they ought not to play those simple games that they enjoy? Nintendo just hates it when they face competition, whether it was from Sega in the 16 bit years, or their bobbled failure with sony resulting in the Playstation 1/2 climbing to the top of the industry for a very long time.



SigourneyBeaver said:

If there weren't so many terrible games on the Nintendo formats I would side with Iwata a bit more. And he should've stood up there and admitted that their biggest problem is they only make video game machines. This is where the PS2 did well offering DVD affordably when it was the "big thing." Well now, the "big things" are devices that can do whatever you want them to do - if someone has made an app. And if they haven't, you still have plenty of other things it can do with it while you wait for something you specifically want.

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