Now that the DSiWare store has finally launched, I suppose the inevitable comparison of the two DLC platforms will be made. I’ve given some thought to this comparison.
The initial offerings of the DSiWare shop are, at best, flat and uninteresting. The Apple App Store is alive with variety, low prices, and indie developers galore. I, being one of these Indie developers that is banking on the Apple App Store, certainly thinks there are great opportunities for smaller developers to get their IPs out there and make a few bucks. Comparing the two platforms at this juncture certainly is not fair since the App Store has had a good deal of time to grow and evolve.
However, let’s look at the potential a year from now. Let’s assume for a moment that in one year’s time, we’re looking at essentially the same hardware: the Nintendo DSi and the iPhone/iPod. Nintendo obviously is a gaming company and has been at the game dev business since the 1970’s. Apple, on the other hand, has interestingly NEVER been the choice platform of gamers for nearly their entire existance. It’s only now with the dawn of the iPhone and the App Store that gamers are taking a bit of notice. That said, it would seem like Nintendo naturally is poised to be the more respected DLC platform for games, right? I tend to think so, but let me explain why.
The DSi is a game device, first and foremost (if not exclusively). The iPhone or iPod are not. The touchscreen of iPhone, in my opinion, is a relatively inaccurate way of controlling an action or puzzle game, or any game that requires pin-point precision. Also, the tilt control is still inaccurate, and tilting the screen away from you or toward you renders the screen difficult to see. I find the hardware of the iPhone the biggest hurdle in allowing Apple’s platform to shine as the gaming device of choice. The DSi has traditional controls, tried and true, and offers gamers a more accurate gaming experience, with tighter control and a screen that doesn’t need to be obscured by fingers. Even with touchscreen controls, the top screen remains unobstructed by the stylus.
Here is where the DSi will really take over. There are no mascots, franchises, killer apps, or anything of the like on the iPhone platform. It’s likely there will ever be. Nintendo has developed this aspect of their business with great acumen over the past 20-some-odd years, and it is paying off gangbusters for them. People will always flock to a Mario, Zelda, Mario Kart, F-Zero, Punch Out, or Donkey Kong title without hesitation, and the guranteed polish on every Nintendo-published title says that your 5 or 10 bucks will most likely be very well spent. Until Apple funds a dedicated game development team, I don’t see this changing at all.
Install Base and Audience
Since the release of Wii, Nintendo has enjoyed unprecedented install base numbers, and a hugely expanded user base with non-techies and casual gamers. In fairness, Apple is catching up because of the iPod Touch becoming more pervasive (everyone’s got an iPod, right?). If it were only for the iPhone, Apple would probably be doomed in the DLC realm. Regardless, Nintendo has proven themselves as good, clean gaming fun for nearly everyone who has two functioning hands. Their reputation precedes them with the release of the DSi, and selling to current Wii owners won’t be too hard. I can certainly see a lot of grandmas and casual gamers with a DSi in their pockets, catching up on their math skills, or enjoying some crossword puzzles on their train rides to work, all because they’ve had so much fun with a Wii console previously.
What do you think? Is there even a real competition between Nintendo and Apple, or am I just imagining things here? 😉