Nintendo: Smartphones have ‘raised the barriers’ on software quality

Smartphone gaming hasn’t effected Nintendo as much as some would lead you to believe. The 3DS is still selling good at 14 million units per year and just a handful of first party Nintendo games makes the company half a billion dollars annually.

That said, Nintendo has admitted that the cheap price of smartphone games has effected the development cycles on their games. Nintendo President Satoru Iwata says that the low price of smartphone games makes it difficult to sell consumers full priced retail games.

First, I think it is becoming increasingly more difficult to have consumers understand and appreciate the value that a particular game offers than ever before. For example, it is now common to find on smart devices a large volume of products categorized as games selling for one dollar.

With countless games offered for free, consumers are far more careful than ever to decide whether it is worthwhile to spend dozens of dollars to buy one game. Under these circumstances, we feel that it is important to offer games that are even more polished than before in terms of quality to have consumers buy our products, understand the value that they offer and recommend them to others by word-of-mouth. It now requires incredibly high-quality products to satisfy consumers to the level where they feel compelled to recommend them to others; the barriers are indeed higher than before.

I’m not one of those people who thinks games should be priced anywhere near what games are priced at on iOS/Android. Personally I see a great game like Mutant Mudds Deluxe on the Wii U eShop at $9.99 and I think it’s a steal.

Nintendo is one of the last companies that will delay a game if necessary to make it better. So many companies today will rush a game out to hit a particular deadline, it is refreshing to still have someone in the industry with this attitude.

That said, even Nintendo can no longer deny that smartphone game prices have changed the industry. Maybe that won’t be a big deal in a few years. Facebook/Flash games have been around for a while and you don’t see Nintendo extending development time on titles because of those, so perhaps smartphone game pricing will have less of an impact in the future.