News Article

Nintendo Executive Describes Rise of Tablet Gaming as "Undeniable"

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Believes these devices can be "allies"

In recent years Nintendo has continually faced the threat of smartphones and tablet devices to its handheld systems, though the Wii U GamePad's inclusion of its own touch screen is now attracting similar comparisons. It's not always a popular topic amongst Nintendo gamers, but the rise in popularity of gaming on non-dedicated devices is an ongoing challenge for the famous gaming company.

Nintendo's not denying it, either. Satoru Iwata has recently spoken of accepting the growing relevance of tablet and smartphone devices, but considering them as allies rather than enemies. It seems to be a stance reinforced throughout the company, as Nintendo of America's executive vice-president of sales and marketing, Scott Moffitt — the spokesman and host of the 3DS presentation at E3 — has spoken in similar terms at the BMO 2012 Digital Media Conference.

It's undeniable the growth of tablets and their ability to play games.

At the same time when we look at our data, the DS didn't have competition from tablets and smartphones, and yet we are outpacing the rate of sale for the DS. These are seemingly conflicting data points. Obviously we see a rise in new competitive products, but we are seeing better results in a tougher environment.

He went on to explain that smartphones and tablets can be treated as allies, as they provide even more means for gamers to find websites and information for Nintendo products. As we also know from this week's Nintendo Direct broadcast from Japan, Nintendo is planning Miiverse and Nintendo Network ID access from other devices.

Do you agree with this positive and optimistic outlook from Nintendo, or are you worried that other devices such as tablets will damage the company and draw some of its gamers away? Let us know what you think in the comments below.


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User Comments (42)



New_3DaSh_XL said:

I pressed F5 and this was posted 0 seconds ago.
On topic, Nintendo will do fine, I don't think Tablets and smartphones are hurting Nintendo's sales very much.



Whopper744 said:

A little concerned things may really be about to change. The game industry may have to make extra sure that they keep up with the times. Even though I'm not real big on the idea, everything seems to be going digital and to touch screens.



Wonder_Ideal said:

I am willing to see the tablets and smartphones as allies. I've got nothing against them, I just don't have one.



bboy2970 said:

Nintendo doesn't have much to worry about I don't think but Sony and Microsoft might. Nintendo is often looked at in a different way than the other game companies which is often looked at as a disadvantage. It may turn out to be an advantage though since they will still have a place alongside phones and tablets while the others are looked at as more obsolete as a result.



Furealz said:

Tablet? That sounds like carving stone or something, Wii Pad all the Way! Yes I do agree everything is touch-based today, remember children the DS' Slogan: "Touching FEELS GOOD..."



atariman said:

oh! I hope that the Wii U is a good system. I here that the tablet (Controller for Wii U) has a good grip. but I don't think I want it. I'll see and try it out.



Auracle said:

I like the fact that Nintendo likes to make friends with its competition. As for how Tablets will affect the market, I believe that only time will tell.



MYCO said:

I think Nintendo will do just fine just hope to see some good RTS and MMO games.



Ren said:

It's good to stay positive but he's missing the point here if he thinks people are going to have both a tablet and a nintendo so they can search online with a tablet for info and then put it down to pick up a Nintendo for games. Some of us will have both, but you guys are just being unrealistic if you think the masses are going to decide to have both just so they can have buttons and "deeper gameplay". They are CERTAINLY in competition, it's just short sighted not to recognize that and consider it in the marketing and design of new IP's. They may not be "game machines" like a Nintendo will always be but they sell a lot of games for the people that want the other more useful apps for FIRST with games as a bonus. If Nintendo was serious about this optimism, they would find a way to partner with app devo's and make some really useful apps that aren't games; even ports or other real tablet apps, so it can be real competition to the tablets. They may not be "losing" to them per se, but they are missing out on a lot of new user base which is what matters long term.



GameLord08 said:

Sigh. Not more of this. Although, it's nice to finally see someone who can assess their own environment. Still, he doesn't seem to acknowledge the extent to which they are in competition, as @Ren has pointed out. The industry is still proving extremely short-sighted as to what can amount from what is currently on display.

As of now, I don't think tablets and smartphones are significantly affecting the mainstream market, seeing as both their respective markets are currently not intertwined. Regardless, these devices are certainly have their potential exploited better lately - exposure is the key issue. Smartphones/tablets have been proven to be fitting devices for gaming, and loads of notable industry developers (Ubisoft, SEGA, Square Enix etc.) are supporting this well; being dedicated is a limitation, not a virtue. A multi-purpose device need not have the competence of its platforms compromised for the sake of it being "multi-purpose".

In future, it all depends on Nintendo on how they aim to keep handhelds significantly different from whatever smartphones/tablets will have undeniably achieved by then. Hopefully, they'll have themselves realised in this field more prevalently in a few years, and would've stepped up in quality and competence, as have PCs alongside consoles.



Varia01 said:

If this is so, will Nintendo add Fruit Ninja to the eshop? Maybe even allowing you to surf the web?



Syntax said:

I got a feeling that Nintendo is slowly transitioning into a software company once its start its spread onto new platforms outside of its own products, you can see that Nintendo is pushing hard into digital sales for the 3ds and wiiu while introducing miiverse into other systems, they are preparing when people want something more than cheap 1$ games and when higher priced games are able to sell, then they will develop games for mobile and pc in which they can easily rule with the popular games they have.



rjejr said:

I think there is a very good reason why the 3DS and 3DS XL look like toys compared to the Vita. As long as Nintendo has Pokemon and Mario exclusively on their own systems they can manufacture whatever they want - smartphone, tablet, dedicated game system - and people will buy them. At least for now. I do think they are loosing a few sales here and their to kids who's parents are buying them 7" tablets, but Nintendo also gets a few adult sales from putting MGS and RE on the 3DS, but it's still a toy, and until we come out of testtubes full grown adults their will always be kids who want toys.
OTOH - I think Sony will have to stop making handhelds after Vita that look like tablets for adults. Which they already know as their own Xperia tablet line and PS Mobile show.



Jack_Package said:

Nintendo should embrace the smart phone and tablet market.

How many new hardware buyers could they capture with a good Mario endless runner or a full scale Advance Wars on a touch screen?

I'm betting a few



Bluewind098 said:

In some ways I kind of find limiting the Handheld market to be better. Cause do you know who will keep it running? We will! If enough gamers get the product then there will be enough support for it and soon it might be a niche being for more dedicated gamers. Much like PC gaming a lot more worthy investment for gamers at least thats just my thoughts.



DreamOn said:

Nintendo made tablet with circle pad/button peripheral for when I need to make mario move and I'll take two.



Zombie_Barioth said:

Nintendo has a reputation for being stuck in the past but when they see potential in something they really push for it. If they think the mobile market is a good thing I could only imagine what they could do with it.

They definitely have a better foothold than anyone else in the console market. Most of what they do would be hard to do or pointless on mobile devices. They also have some of the strongest IPs in the industry, as long as there is Mario, Zelda, pokemon, and so on people will buy their hardware whatever it may be.



Noend said:

I buy lots of tablet games, they are fun at first, cheap, but don't hold my interest. I go back to my 3DS when I went an extended gaming session.



Jacadamia said:

the other day my lil sister was obsessed with this app on her ipad called subway surfers, it looked pretty fun but it was so repetitive... anyway she played it for so long (say..three hours?) and looked extremely bored, but she wouldn't stop. so i got my old ds lite, popped in new super mario bros and let her make a file, she played it for a while and actually got pretty in to it, and i felt pretty good when she said she had a lot more fun going on adventures than just running in a subway over and over again to get coins.

I used to always see little kids playing ds, but now im starting to see a lot more little kids playing their parents phones or ipads, and a lot of them think the games are a lot better because thats what theyre used too... it kinda makes me worry about nintendo, because most of those kids will probably just stick with apple when they get older



AceGrey said:

I only got internet on my Android Smartphone and I really love my touchscreen device.
When it comes to gaming in nees BUTTONS.
Games like fruit ninja are cool but I cant play Super Mario on a touchscreen.. Most games need some kind of controller.

I was impressed by playing GTA3 on my phone but the controls are... well they suck alot.

tablet + controller + wii = the killermachine



Rekiotsu said:

Iwata is right, we shoukd think tablets and smart phones as allies not as enemies because gaming on those platforms will never really match gaming on real gaming console and they can be used to get information about Nintendo like computers, but in lot easier way.



LavaTwilight said:

Nintendo don't have anything to worry about. They have the best minds in the gaming business working for them. They always innovate and they will always stay with the market, or ahead of it! The fact that they realise the threat now and are allying themselves with it shows that they have a secure future to come!



Spoony_Tech said:

Here is my take on this issue. Worry about NA and Europe. That's where the handheld market is under fire. In Japan they are more interested in actual gaming and not on smart devices. The only reason Nintendo is around about the same for the 3ds is because of Japan. Everywhere else its not keeping up. Personally I would never game on a smart device. Yes the games look a whole lot better in some respect but the game play is often lacking. Unfortunately us Americans are graphics hogs and if it doesn't look good then its not worth playing. Poor misguided souls!




Nintendo are obviously trying to merge home console and tablet gaming with the Wii U. Good move IMO. We'll c how it works. BTW, I'm a tablet gamer, and the worst thing about tablets is the analogue stick "emulations". Horribly untactile, and unsatisfying (eg. Sonic 4 Ep 2). Thank heaven that the Gamepad, like the 3DS has D-pads and analogue stucks. Superior to sole touch controlling any day.



Slapshot said:

I'm reading this article from my new 4th Gen iPad that I purchased instead of a Wii U. I'd say that they are indeed hurting Nintendo's sales.



TheRealThanos said:

I recently bought a Samsung Galaxy SIII and for quite a lot of reasons I'm very happy with it. But not for gaming. Like so many have already stated, there are no games that hold attention for long before getting repetitive and touch screen controls are either in screen, making visibility in some cases a true hassle and having rumble response for button presses doesn't even come close to actual tactile control. A gaming console NEEDS a controller with REAL buttons and thumbsticks, period.
No argument possible. (sorry)
One example is the GBA emulator I downloaded yesterday: in portrait mode the buttons are displayed UNDER the game screen, and if you rotate to landscape, all buttons are transparently placed into the enlarged game screen, distorting and obstructing the view. The second problem is that the shoulder buttons are also on screen, and of course nobody that is used to a handheld is used to that, so that's a big negative as well.
Then there's studio's, production values, IP's and maybe even reputation that will at least for quite a few years to come stop larger game companies from putting most of their big IP's onto tablets or smart phones.
Most of these games nowadays are watered down ports or parts of games that make up the console versions.

It is true that Android/iOS games are starting to look better and better and I'm even interested to see how the Ouya console will do displaying these on TV, because I'm not biased towards one platform, but it will still be these mobile games, only on a big screen, so still no deep and engaging console experience, based of what I've read from it so far.

Having said all that, I truly don't think that it is going to have that large of an impact.
Nintendo hasn't always been a 100% right, but they also haven't been wrong that often and with what they're saying now I personally think that they have a valid point and saying that Nintendo is oblivious to the so called facts that some of you are stating, is actually quite hilarious and shaky evidence to say the least.
From all I've read and seen so far, I think that Nintendo is actually very keen on getting it right this time and they seem to be doing just that in more ways than one.

As for some of the other things I've read in the comments:

  • Nintendo going software only and putting their IP's on other platforms?
    Keep dreaming, poor souls, not in a million years is that going to happen.
    The closest thing to that happening is Nintendo releasing it's own smart phone.
  • Nintendo having to be multi-purpose or more powerful? (and especially in handhelds according to many whiners)
    Again: not going to happen. Multi-purpose (playing DVD's, backwards compatibility and so on) is a BONUS, not an obligation and where people get the nerve to expect it just because the competition also offers it (to an extend) is beyond me.
    Sounds a bit to much like 'when I say jump' to me, or better yet: 'let's follow the herd'.
    Dedication is a good thing, convergence is overrated.
    It all started to go downhill with TV's with built in DVD players: if one broke down and you had to get it fixed, you'd be rid of two appliances at once for the duration of the repairs.
    I always get dedicated hardware, except for the smart phone of course, but DVD players/recorders need to do just that, and game consoles need to be about the games and all the appropriately related functionalities such as online, chat and so forth. You can probably name a few game related things to add to that yourself as well.
    As for being more powerful, a small so-called underpowered device named the Nintendo DS thrashes that silly little remark.

I am by no means a Nintendo fanboy (and literally seeing as I'm way too old to still be considered a boy) and I do hope that other platforms that are going to come out are also going to give me that tingling feeling that only new consoles can do, making me want to go out and buy one.

And even though I hate Sony with a vengeance for personal reasons, a lot of my friends have multiple consoles so also PS2's/PS3's and some of them a Vita, so I hope that they can still make a success of the Vita to keep people that DO like Sony happy as well.

And even if it turns out that smart phones or tablets really start to lean on consoles as far as games are concerned, then it's just more competition and competition is never a bad thing. (I'm an inside sales professional, so believe me: I should know a thing or two about that)




Yeah its a psychology thing. The applying pressure to a "button, stick, d-pad" and getting a reward. Overall more satisfying than mere light touch. Even gesturing with an arm or holding a stylus has some more stimulative "feel" for the gaming brain. Besides that there's sometimes an inferior control issue with "analogue stick emulation" as I said before.



GreenDream said:

Still prefer a DS-style system to a tablet or single screen phone for handhelds...

Looking forward to seeing what the "Upad" is capable of, though...



JuanitoShet said:

Heh. Go figure, I'm on my Droid X2 as I write this, and though I have a few games I play here and there on this thing, my 3DS, PSP and Game Boys is where my REAL handheld gaming happens.

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