What once began as a market dominated by Nintendo’s Game Boy product line has evolved into an entertainment division that rakes in billions of dollars year-to-year. Portable gaming, an instant success within the realm of entertainment thanks to hits such as Super Mario Land, Pokémon Red/Blue/Green/Yellow and the almighty Tetris, is now a form of entertainment that engages people of all ages.
Thanks to Apple’s iPhone, those who once steered away from the idea of purchasing a handheld device solely for gaming have found themselves absorbed by experiences where one uses a slingshot to launch wingless birds at pigs positioned on and within variegated structures or guides a four-legged creature up a never-ending series of platforms without falling.
Yes, I am referring to two of the most successful portable software releases to ever grace the planet, Angry Birds and Doodle Jump. They are two of the reasons that the iPhone has become the most successful mobile phone ever with over 240 million devices sold. In fact, Apple’s fiscal 2012 first quarter earnings report revealed that Apple’s iPhone alone generated more revenue ($24.42 billion) than all of Microsoft ($20.89 billion). Considering Microsoft’s massive product divisions between Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office and Xbox, the fact that just one of Apple’s product lines is shattering sales of Microsoft’s entire company is groundbreaking.
Many may ask why the gaming division of Apple’s App Store has become such a success despite the simplicity of the experiences compared to what’s offered on the latest handheld gaming devices, Nintendo’s 3DS and Sony’s PlayStation Vita, and the answer is quite simple: convenience and price.
In a world where one’s mobile phone is glued to one’s body at all times, the idea of pulling out one’s iPhone to make an attempt at a couple stages on Angry Birds rather than having to carry a separate device is much more reasonable to the general population. Let’s face it, who even thinks of leaving their house without a phone in their pocket or purse? The fact that the iPhone allows users to load up their devices with digital gaming content without having to carry around another device or physical gaming media clearly defines the simplicity offered with Apple’s iPhone.
Pricing has also played a significant role in the rapidly evolving industry of video games.
Take a look at a few games on Nintendo’s 3DS and PlayStation Vita, and you will discover a large percentage of the prices ranging from $19.99 all the way up to $49.99 whereas on the iPhone, if the game is not free, one can expect to spend $6.99 tops with most of the games offered.
Sure, a game such as Uncharted: Golden Abyss on Sony’s PlayStation Vita effectively substantiates itself from your typical Angry Birds experience, but those looking to engage themselves within such a complex gaming experience, often decide to go the route of console gaming. Because a game like Uncharted: Golden Abyss requires dedicated sit-down time rather than allowing for short bursts of gaming, why wouldn’t one play on their large high-definition television rather than play on a screen considerably smaller?
Then there’s the case of iPhone-to-Vita ports costing as much as five to six times the price of the iPhone version. Let’s take Gameloft’s hack and slash action-role playing video game, Dungeon Hunter as an example. A game which costs just $6.99 on Apple’s App Store, costs a staggering $39.99 on the PlayStation Vita delivering essentially the exact same experience outside of the fact that the Vita provides tactile controls with buttons rather than relying on touchscreen technology. Because of the licensing and royalty fees associated with releasing a game on the PlayStation Vita, Gameloft is financially unable to price their software competitively with the iPhone, despite the same experience being offered.
As a gamer myself, sure, I enjoy what Nintendo’s 3DS and PlayStation Vita offer over the iPhone such as more complex gaming experiences, more feature-rich gameplay offerings, and mind-blowing visuals, but the demographic I fit within is devoured by that of non-hardcore gamers.
Do not get me wrong, Nintendo’s 3DS platform is selling outstanding with impressive software sales month-after-month and as an owner of Sony’s PlayStation Vita, I have dedicated many hours into experiencing what Sony and its developers have to offer with the most powerful gaming handheld on the market. But in a world where price and convenience are the two most crucial aspects of a technological success, unless Sony and Nintendo reevaluate their business model over the upcoming years, I expect Apple’s iPhone to dominate an entertainment division once controlled by Nintendo.