Are Smartphones Pinching Nintendo's Audience?

The introduction of apps on smartphones has opened up an entirely new platform for games. Our mobiles are becoming ever legitimate entertainment systems, and by the end of 2011, 64% of downloaded apps were games. Many are correlating this with Nintendo's recently reported drop in sales: are smartphones now converting Nintendo's casual-gaming audience?

With a phone to hand, we are instantly provided with a whole library of games, which has proven to be the most popular category for apps.  Games such as Angry Birds have realised the potential of apps, helping to mould the app scene into what it is today. Angry Birds was massively successful and profitable for developer, Rovio. It has now racked up over one billion downloads, demonstrating the overwhelming demand for simple, short yet immensely addictive games.

Whilst this is great progress for the smartphone industry and developers alike, there is current speculation that it is apps which are accountable for Nintendo's drop in sale figures. In 2012 Nintendo experienced it's first ever loss, a hefty $132 million. With the latest smartphones getting improved graphics, faster connectivity speeds and greater processing power, is Nintendo really losing out on the hand-held market? Is the convenience of phone gaming leaving the 3DS to sit and gather dust?

The unveiling of the iPhone 5 showcased the device's ability to replicate console quality games, a far cry from the likes of Paper Toss. As smartphones begin to venture into high end gaming, there is the possibility that hardware manufacturers, like Nintendo, will feel the pressure. With phones getting more powerful, will the 3DS, and even the PS Vita, be able to compete with 2015's smartphones? 

It will always be difficult to compare gaming on phones to consoles, as they offer a completely different experience. It is, however, safe to say that consumers who are serious about gaming will always opt for a console, and the 3DS will continue to remain as a serious contender in the hand-held market, especially due to mammoth franchises such as Mario and Pokémon. But when Nintendo have been marketing towards casual gamers, they may have created themselves a secondary audience who are more suited to mobile gaming, making them vulnerable to apps.

For traditional gaming, smartphones are currently inferior in terms of delivering a high end experience, although this doesn't mean that smartphones cannot be a great opportunity for a corporation such as Nintendo. Should Nintendo start experimenting with getting their products across the mobile platform to claw back their casual audience?

 

What do you think?