The end of Nintendo DS? Apple could soon dominate handheld gaming with iPhone, iPod touch

“The Nintendo Wii has turned the gaming world on its head, with motion-sensitive controls and family-friendly games. The Nintendo DS has had a good run, too, dominating the market for handheld gaming gizmos despite determined assaults by Sony and Nokia,” Brian Caulfield writes for Forbes.

“Monday, however, Nintendo will likely face a new and far more dangerous foe: Apple. Steve Jobs’ computer and gizmo maker will likely launch a long-promised feature, dubbed the App Store, which will let outside developers pour software into the iPhone and iPod touch… The iPhone and the iPod touch combine the touch-sensitive screen of a Nintendo DS with the motion sensitivity of the Nintendo Wii,” Caulfield writes.

“To be sure, the Nintendo DS won’t be an easy kill. First released in 2004, Nintendo freshened the design of the aging system in 2006, with the release of the thinner, lighter DS Lite… Moreover, Apple has struggled to master gaming on the Mac, with a far wider array of titles available for machines running Microsoft Windows,” Caulfield writes.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple hasn’t struggled to “master gaming on the Mac,” game developers have struggled with (or ignored) the Mac platform – even though Mac users in general have more disposable income and are more likely to pay for software than their Windows counterparts. As Mac continues to take market share from Windows, more and more developers are looking at the Mac again (or for the first time).

Caulfield continues, “The ability to pour fresh software into the iPhone, wirelessly, at the touch of a button already has game developers interested… Sophisticated games such as Electronic Arts’ ambitious new god-game, ‘Spore,’ are already slated to be released for the iPhone at the same time it goes on sale for PCs, Macs and the Nintendo DS.”

Full article here.


  1. iPhone and iPod touch games will translate to more Mac OS games in general and in the end the more games on the Mac the more Mac sales will be to the less sophisticated users. The more Mac Users there are the more Macs move into the enterprise. Game developers are not stupid, they see Mac sales increasing and they know that the Mac sales increases are at the cost of Windows PC (their core) gaming market, the home user. Apple marching up the OS market-share latter is being driven by that home market, with users switching away from Windows. Game Developers are going to want to stay ahead of the switch curve or they’ll be faced with the one thing they do not want, declining sales. Once a game company starts down the road of declining sales there is little they can do to recapture lost market-share. So, to staying ahead of the curve and keep their market-share and to even try to expand it, the smart game companies are going to start releasing more of their titles on the Mac OS in a much tighter schedule with their Windows Version, if not at the same time or even before the Windows Version is released. Some, of the big game developers have been quietly hiring Mac developers for the last year and several of the Game Porting companies that do the ports of Windows Games to Mac OS are said to be in talks with the big game companies on possible acquisition.

  2. MDN Take: “Apple hasn’t struggled to “master gaming on the Mac,” game developers have struggled with (or ignored) the Mac platform…”

    I ain’t no programmer or gaming expert. Some who are say they want to work with Apple, but Apple really isn’t interested…

    Valve Software co-founder Gabe Newell:
    “We have this pattern with Apple, where we meet with them, people there go ‘wow, gaming is incredibly important, we should do something with gaming,'” Newell said. “And then we’ll say, ‘OK, here are three things you could do to make that better,’ and then they say OK, and then we never see them again. And then a year later, a new group of people show up, who apparently have no idea that the last group of people were there, and never follow through on anything. So, they seem to think that they want to do gaming, but there’s never any follow through on any of the things they say they’re going to do.”

    id programming guru John Carmack:
    “The honest truth right now is that Apple’s not exactly hugely supportive…When they finally allowed games to be put on the iPod… in many ways it’s one of the worst environments to develop games for. You have to work on an emulator… just all these horrible decisions….they’re not giving any spectacular signs that it’s going to be a big deal for them…”

  3. Don’t forget that graphic cards in the Mac was not well suited or powerfull for the full throttle games. Mac hardware was’nt a very good plaform for hight level games. MDN is lacking some balanced views about that question.

    I must admit that Macs give a better option about that recently.

  4. This might be the dumbest article I’ve seen yet…

    “Mommy can I get an iPhone instead of a Nintendo DS”

    “Sure son, your 9 years old and I have over $125 a month to blow on your NEW gaming platform.”

    “Yea mommy yea.”

  5. There is no question; iPhone/iPod will affect Nintendo DS. Today, many people buy DS to play hand-held games (for same reasons they buy PSP). Tomorrow, when there is an option to buy games for their iPhone/iPod, there will be no reason for them to buy DS as well. This won’t kill DS, but it will definitely have a noticeable effect. We need to understand that not the entire (nor a large percentage) of DS-buying public is hard-come gaming folks. Majority are in fact young people (and teens) who aren’t exactly so completely obsessed with gaming. They have a few games and they play them occasionally. If they could do the same on their iPhone or iPod, they would never bother with a DS.This is the main point here; not the assumption that DS will soon die, but that it would be affected considerably by emergence of iPhone as a gaming platform.

  6. The iPhone/iPod Touch is not a DS killer for so many reasons and for Brian Caulfield to say so just shows his ignorance of the complexities of the gaming market. As someone who has studied game design, I can tell you that the iPhone/iPod Touch, as a gaming platform, is hurt by multiple things.

    The first is that it’s much more expensive than the DS. The PSP was introduced to the American market in 2005 at a price point of $249 and as of this year, has sold 34 million units. Many of these sales only occurred after a price drop to $169.99 (unit only) & $199.99 (game bundle) and a redesign that reduced its size and increased its ram. In the same time, the DS has sold over 70.6 million units at a price point of $129.99 (unit only). Nintendo has sold over 258.6 million handhelds since it entered the market in 1989. Over the past 19 years, Nintendo has been challenged by other handheld systems that were technically superiors but more expensive and all have either failed or haven’t sold as many units.

    The second is the controls. One of the things that are holding the iPhone/iPod Touch back is it lack of tactile controls. Being able to feel the controls without looking at them or thinking about it is very important to keeping the gamer in the game. Whenever a gamer has to think about how their going to control the game, it breaks that all important 4th wall and takes them out of the game. Non- tactile controls require that the gamer monitor where their thumbs are constantly to ensure that they haven’t slipped off.

    The third thing that has given Nintendo such a strong lead over all other competitors has been its library of great games. Nintendo is an innovative company that knows how to create games and has many talented companies releasing games on its systems. To date, Nintendo has sold over 170 millions copies of its Super Mario franchise and Super Mario Brothers alone has sold over 40 million copies, the highest selling game of all time. One of the complaints some companies are having with the Wii is that they have to compete against Nintendo games. Nintendo is a power horse.

    The fourth is battery life. The DS has a battery life of anywhere between 8 – 19 hours off of a sing three hour charge. The iPhone/iPod Touch’s battery life for gaming would probably be less than its 7 hour battery life for video playback. I know that it’s annoying for me to constantly be watching my PSP’s battery life and it can run out of a charge in several hours. I had to buy a car adapter to ensure it didn’t run out. My DS can go 4 – 7 days without a charge.

    Gaming will grow on the iPhone/iPod Touch and it will produce some fun and great games but it’s nowhere in the same league as the DS.

  7. I believe that the iPhone/iPod Touch will be more competition to the PSP, than the DS, as the most popular games on the DS are made by Nintendo, and I doubt they will release the games on the iPhone/Touch

  8. iPod touch could easily become a Nintendo/PSP killer if there were a $199 version. They have way more memory, graphics power and processing power than either of those platforms. And anyone with programming chops can create and market stuff through the App/store for a pittance. Plus, you have the whole world of internet gaming that PSP and Nintendo can’t even touch.

    If Apple had been serious about gaming on the Mac they would:
    1. Have had more video options for the iMac and Mac Mini across the entire line or…

    2. Offer a half sized MacPro—half the memory slots, half the PCI slots, half the drive bays and half the optical bays. Remember, you used to be able to buy a pro-level Mac for around $1500

    3. Invest or buy into some of the major gaming companies—Bungie, Half-Life, etc.

    4. Buy a graphics card company—remember 3dfx? BTW, what happened to Raycer? (Apple bought it a while back.)

  9. “pple hasn’t struggled to “master gaming on the Mac,” game developers have struggled with (or ignored) the Mac platform – even though Mac users in general have more disposable income and are more likely to pay for software than their Windows counterparts.”

    hop on a warcraft server sometime and ask about macs. a whole lot of people there game on them. why? well, blizzard releases games for the mac. and since the game is a pay per month, and recalling the disposable income part……

    two questions:

    first for “Sheep Register” if the trouble is that apple isn’t doing something, as the valve guys tell it, then why is it that the companies that do make games for the mac make such great games? remember halo before MS bought it? what did it run on? did they need special help from apple? remember the afore mentioned WoW? do they get special help?

    maybe the guys you quote are just piss poor programers….

    second, for all those people making fun of the article because “who gets a 9 year an iPhone?!?”

    how many iPhones have seen in the hands of teens? i know i have seen a fair number there. how many teens have summer jobs and extra cash? if they were shelling out for iPods, why not iPhones?

    i listened to a girl (maybe 15-16) talk her dad into an iPhone just a few days ago. he told her that if she bought the phone he would pay for the plan. personally, i think he got screwed, but who am i to judge.

    part two of that question, how many of you forgot about the touch?

    oh wait, you mean that thing that should be able to play all the same games as the iPhone, cost less, have no subscription, and that students can get free with a computer?

    yeah, i bet there is no gaming on that platform……. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”rolleyes” style=”border:0;” />

    honestly, sometimes i fear for the state of critical thinking in the world today.

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