This post has not been edited by the GamesBeat staff. Opinions by GamesBeat community writers do not necessarily reflect those of the staff.
1. This is a personal opinion. Please keep that in mind while reading and/or commenting.
2. I reference iOS devices specifically but the same applies to all smartphone flavors generally in the market.
3. I am a gaming fan, not a fanboy. I have always owned multiple consoles and will try any game that appeals to me regardless of what system it is on.
Hearing Nintendo executives repeatedly dismiss the impact of smartphones on Nintendo’s business blows my mind. One would have to be blind not to notice how the gaming landscape has changed over the past few years. I have seen this impact first hand within my own family which consists of both hardcore gamer (myself) and casual gamers (mom, brothers, and sisters-in-law). I would think the Big N would realize the implications of such shift, but in case they do not, then here is my story, Nintendo. Pay attention.
Back in the early Wii and DS days, you made the decision to target the casual market aggressively. The decision brought you much success. As a hardcore gamer and long-time Nintendo fan, I felt betrayed watching you chase this new demographic, but the move netted you a substantially larger audience of potential customers, so I can understand your motives.
Your intense marketing efforts paid off tenfold, and it was not long before even my mom owned her very own DS. For me, on the other hand, as a hardcore gamer, the Wii became the first Nintendo console since the NES day that I do not and will not own.
You found new riches in the casual market and as the lone purveyor of games in that casual market space. You proudly declared a ceasefire with Sony and Microsoft. While your stock climbed high, you failed to notice that lurking in your new-found, pristine, open waters swam a new, powerful threat — Apple.
Your failure to acknowledge and react to this new player in the portable space cost you dearly in my household. My mother, who at one time played Brain Age on her DS and contemplated buying Wii Fit, now owns both an iPhone and an iPad. She is a full-fledged Apple customer, deeply rooted in iTunes and on her iOS devices. There is absolutely nothing you can do to get her out of Apple’s ecosystem let alone convince her to spend anything over $3 for a game. Perhaps with that low budget mentality, you do not want her back as a customer. But if you don’t want her, and you don’t want me, who is left?
The situation for you in my household is even more dire. My brothers, sisters-in-law and even my wife all own iPhones which easily satisfy their gaming urges. That’s five more casual gamers in my small world that are not going to reach beyond their iOS devices no matter what Mario, Zelda or Samus are up to.
If you don’t react soon, you will lose my family forever. Even my young nephews are cutting their gaming teeth with iOS devices. While I may at some point pick up a 3DS, or perhaps even a used Wii, the casual market in my house is under Apple’s lock and key so you better reconsider what you can do to win hardcore gamers back.
(Thanks to Billy G for the proofing)