Sony and Nintendo should be concerned about Apple

The more I think about, the more clear it so to me that Apple is going directly after Sony and Nintendo, positioning the iPod Touch (and by extension the iPhone as mobile gaming platforms). One look at their latest ads should pretty much confirm this. Apple is correct, the iPod touch is the a gaming machine and a contender against the Nintendo DS. Why? It is not tied to a mobile phone contract; it is a great audio/video player; it has WiFi enabling multi player games along with web surfing and email. In reality it is the first successful MID although Apple wisely doesn’t market it as such. Here are a few reasons why the iPod Touch works.

  • Games for the iPhone & iPod touch are for the most part, much cheaper than Nintendo DS and Sony PSP titles. Although I’m seeing a small price creep on game pricing there are lots of  titles at $0.99.
  • There are quite a lot of free titles available. Game play is a very accessible feature, even for those on a budget.
  • iPods are still cool, even as you get older.
  • If the original iPod brought 1,000 songs in your pocket, the iPod Touch is bringing an entire game library. No disks or cartridges to carry around.
  • The iPod offers a better game experience than either Nintendo or Sony offers as media centric or Internet experience.


Here’s some of what I’ve been playing, titles tend to fall into two categories, classic genre titles and iPhone optimized

Genre Classics

Rebel Onslaught – It’s a typical 3D rails shooter that’s very reminiscent of StarFox and the like. Plays well, and there’s not a lot new here in terms of innovation. But it is fun.

WordsWorth – Think Bookworm genre word game. Again, not much new but well implemented.

Low Gravity Racer – Think Wipeout racing style game. Fun and well executed.

All these titles are interesting as they do represent tried and true formulas on the platform. They work well and play. Consider them the table stakes. What gets more interesting are the two iPhone optimized titles I tried.

Crayon Physics – It was a YouTube sensation last year and it’s something that’s totally optimized for the iPhone experience. Draw with your finger, use multitouch to navigate and zoom and shake to erase. It’s totally fun and totally not something you’d see on a PSP.

Dropship – It’s a semi-3d shooter with a difference. The controls materialize on screen when you place your thumbs there. Multi-Touch is the way the game is played. It’s not totally new in terms of gameplay (lots of elements of older titles, noticeably Choplifter) but interaction that could only be done on this platform.

It’s titles of this quality that are making the platform look more and more viable as an alternative to dedicated mobile consoles. If I were Sony and Nintendo, i’d take some notice of what’s going on here and start thinking about how my platforms need to evolve.

2 responses to “Sony and Nintendo should be concerned about Apple

  1. Very interesting thoughts, and I do think the gaming aspects of the iPhone/iPod are very good. But I think it’s somewhat limited by the input system – it’s good for short bursts, or fun little games, but would be horrendous for a long game like an RPG.

    But, who knows? The Wii isn’t exactly made for hardcore, long games, and we all know how that’s doing.

  2. Actually Marin, I disagree with you. I think the input system of the device is a core differentiator of the product.

    The iPhone has a unique interaction model (multi-touch, accelerometer) that really can’t be duplicated by other devices (thanks to Apple patents and good design). The unique interaction model can create innovative gaming experiences that can’t be duplicated on other products.

    You use the Wii as an example, and your right on. Also look at Nintendo DS… very unique interaction models that have proven successful. Apple knows casual gaming is where it’s at, and their hardware will drive success there.

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