Tuesday, February 28, 2012

3DS or iPhone?

For the purpose of this article:

Serious Gamer = A person who considers gaming their main source of entertainment.

Casual Gamer = A person who considers gaming just one of many sources of entertainment.

Something that I find interesting is people worrying about devices such as iPhones and iPads taking potential customers away from the 3DS or Vita. Who’s to say they were potential customers? Because someone purchases an iPad, does this mean it is a foregone conclusion that they would have bought a dedicated handheld gaming device such as a 3DS or Vita if the iPad did not exist? I don’t think so.

Back in the days of the NES, Master System, SNES, and Genesis/Mega Drive, the majority of the gaming audience were "serious gamers". The minority of the audience were "casual gamers". I think it goes without challenge to say that period of gaming was successful in terms of money being made by most console manufacturers and publishers. Business was booming.

Fast forward to today. There are millions of new players who are considered the gaming audience. The serious gamer is now the minority, and the casual gamer is now the majority. There are more serious gamers than ever before, but there are now out-numbered by casual gamers. Much more money is being made due to the larger audience. But, business is kind of a mess. It certainly is not booming; at least, not for everyone.

Console manufacturers and video-game publishers who can capture the imagination of the casual gamers win. Just look at the success of games like Nintendogs, Farmville, and the recent Call of Duty titles. I know, some of you are thinking I’m insane for lumping Call of Duty into the same category as Nintendogs and Farmville, but please hear me out.

I believe (and you’re welcome to disagree) that the majority of today’s Call of Duty players are dedicated casual gamers. Yeah, I know that sounds counter-intuitive. What I mean by this is that the dedicated casual players of Call of Duty devote their time to one game series. Sure, they might dabble in other titles while they’re gracing us with their presence in the gaming scene, but their main source of gaming entertainment is Call of Duty. They might in fact spend countless hours playing just Call of Duty, pushing other previous sources of entertainment to the side. But, when the day comes that they no longer wish to play Call of Duty, their interest in video-games is put back on an equal footing with the many other sources of entertainment. Whereas a serious gamer would naturally move onto the next game.

You might be saying to yourself, “What does this have to do with ‘3DS or iPhone?’?” That’s a great question. The reason I make the conclusion above is to draw light to the fact that the casual gamer is fickle when it comes to games. There’s nothing wrong with this, unless you bet your business on it.

The serious gaming audience is larger than ever before, but it just isn’t enough for today’s greedy businessmen. They see the larger casual gaming audience alongside the serious gaming audience and they want it all! Good luck with that. I say, target the serious gaming audience. You can count on them. They love games. Games are their main source of entertainment. You know what the irony is? Serious gamers want ‘real’ games. They don’t just want watered-down interactive movies that cost tens of millions to produce where ‘story’ is the focus. Sure, the occassional one is great, but they also want challenge. They want gameplay!

So, yeah it’s easy to say that iPhones and the like are taking customers away from the 3DS and other gaming platforms, but at the end of that day, were these customers really ever interested in gaming beyond a casual flutter? Probably not. Let the touch-control app world that is dominated by inexpensive crumb-flicking simulators have their five minutes of fun and let us get back to serious gaming business.


  1. I'm really happy to hear that from you. Not only because of how much I agree with it, but you guys (RK) are some of the best devs in the industry and with everyone flocking to platforms like iPhone it's nice to still have some people wanting to do new, exciting things on platforms designed for gaming

  2. I really don't think it's that clear cut, unfortunately. It's all anecdotal evidence from spending too much time on message boards, but I've seen "serious gamers" decide that the iPhone was good enough for their gaming-on-the-go needs. They are satisfied with pressing a few buttons in Tiny Skinner's Box while waiting for the bus, and get their serious games on their console or PC when they're at home.

    Plus, they like that it's more socially acceptable, apparently, to pull out an iPhone in public, than the gaming handheld their son asked for Christmas.

    Still, I'm glad to hear you're not listening to the iPhone's siren call! :-) I'll be pretty sad the day Renegade Kid releases its own ninja-themed endless running game.

  3. I totally agree. Casual gaming is just "time killing." Involving yourself in a game made for the hard core gamer is an investment that is always rewarding.

  4. Iphone is like McDonald's. Cheap, fast and good. They are not affecting the business of uper scale restaurants, like PFChang's. There is room for both.

  5. I enjoy many games on the iPhone/iPad, as they're cheap and sometime fun, but it's no substitute for 3DS or Vita. They're short and entertaining experiences to entertain me for short periods of time while traveling short distances in the city, but they don't offer the depth and experience that handheld games have always been about. If I want a traditional handheld experience with improvements in tech and such, I'll go with 3DS or Vita. The whole "The Market Has Changed" debate it rather tiresome, as I feel there's enough room for everyone to survive in a profitable capacity. Let's be honest, the iPhone, iPad and iPod aren't cheap device, so what's the complaining about the 3DS or Vita prices? These are better experiences. These aren't cheap fluff games that are short and often casual gaming, but games that offer some length and meat. Take Infinity Blade, for example, which is a game that has been praised for its graphics, but it's pretty much on rails, as there's no free-form exploration. I don't think we should praise the graphics so much when something's so directed, thus it can control a scene and camera angles.

    A good majority of the gaming media jumped on the 3DS when it came out and said "Yep, it's the iPhone age, the 3DS is D.O.A.!"

    Now we can all see how silly that kind of thinking was given the 3DS's success.

  6. I agree iphone its just for people who want to waste time, I cant see me wasting money to play angry birds or something like that instead of buying something from the eshop or saving up for a real game talking about a real game dementium 3D would be really great

  7. I hope you consider MGS as one of the "occasional great ones," because it most definitely definitely is. MGS:SE3D and Mutant Mudds are probably my two favorite 3DS games right now, and while they're polar opposites in terms of "gameplay" and "story" balance, I love them both equally.

    But on the iPhone vs. 3DS issue I completely agree except for maybe about the "inexpensive crumb-flicking simulators." I understand that you said the App Store was "dominated" by them, and not necessarily that there aren't any real games on there, but again, there are exceptions to every rule.

  8. I was playing this game on my iPhone I cant express how much fun it was..

    iPhone Games

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