One of the continuing debates that surrounds 3DS at the moment is whether it can truly succeed against the onslaught of mobile gaming, with cheap and free-to-play titles available. Various mobile developers have questioned Nintendo's handheld prospects in recent months as a result, and the latest to hop on board is Neil Young, CEO of Ngmoco.
Ngmoco specialises in titles for the iOS and Android platforms, though has gained a reputation for either acquiring the rights to localise existing Japanese titles or, in some cases, producing apps that may be regarded as 'clones' of other big hits: nevertheless, it's achieved notable success with recent number one title Rage of Bahamut. When asked in an interview with Gamasutra about Nintendo's current position in handheld gaming, Young gave his view of the challenges Nintendo is facing from competition.
I think that Apple has done a number on Sony, and Apple and Android are now doing a number on Nintendo. What they're really doing is defeating the Nintendo hardware machine.
Young admits that Nintendo's biggest strengths are its major franchises, though the industry as he sees it means games that aren't key franchises struggle to sell at full price to support the hardware, concluding that "ultimately their ecosystem starts to fall apart". Young also believes that the mobile gaming market will continue to expand to significant levels and he's "actually quite happy for them [Nintendo] to stay in their little custom handheld gaming space".
Naturally, for fans of Nintendo or dedicated handhelds in general, these are fairly brash and provocative comments. While the mobile gaming industry is expanding, the pie is divided between a much larger group of games, at pricing models where gamers potentially play for free and ignore add-ons, could lose interest due to the sheer number of other titles or pay very little overall. The model followed by Nintendo has its own flaws, of course, but 3DS is still close to 20 million hardware sales over a period of 16 months.
It's a hot topic, but what do you think? Is Nintendo's ecosystem destined to collapse, and is the dedicated handheld market going to shrink into a "little" space against mobile gaming? We'd love to read your opinions in the comments.