Consumers and critics everywhere have been pitting the Nintendo 3DS and Sony's NGP up against mobile devices and their marketplaces ever since the gaming specific handhelds were announced. Fans cite practicality, pricing and usability as reasons why the portable consoles from console manufacturers are not ranking anywhere in their personal to-buy lists.
Nintendo's Hideki Konno spoke with Gamasutra about the companies position on mobile gaming as competition. Simply put, Konno explained that Nintendo really isn't building their system and its games to compete with the mobile space.
"So now in terms of one dollar games, or free games, or whatever that is out there in the market, I mean, really, we're not going to be competing with that…We're not going to try to match that; we're just going to continually strive to not just maintain, but increase, the quality of the entertainment that we're providing, and let it sort itself out. Again, we're not worried about competing at a price point level."
Nintendo's striving to make a system that delivers games centered around longevity and quality rather than quick pick-ups for low prices. According to Konno, games on game specific portables are capable of delivering more in the way of immersion. He continues:
"Now of course as a customer, if somebody said to me, 'Hey, we've got Call of Duty on your portable device and it's only going to cost you 100 yen,' yeah, I'd be super stoked, really excited about that…I just don't think that you could make a game that's immersive and as big as, let's say Call of Duty, or any other large title, and sell it at that price point; it's just not possible."
…The only way that you're going to get a game at that price point is if it's a limited version with limited levels or something…They're going to have to reduce it to sell at that price."
Konno has an interesting point. However, I'd be failing you as an audience if I didn't point towards the DSiWare and WiiWare as evidence that Konno isn't being entirely honest. While Nintendo may not be building their system specifically to compete with the mobile space, they'd be downright foolish to not offer inexpensive alternatives to mobile gaming in a downloadable capacity.
"I'm not trying to say that I think games on cell phones are a bad thing; I'm not trying to say that they're worthless, or have no value at all. I'm just saying that they're just different."
And there it is. That's a point I think we can all agree on. Mobile gaming and portable console gaming are just two entirely unique beasts. Do they compete with one another? Naturally. But not in the same way a phone competes with another phone or the 3DS will compete with the NGP.