There's no questioning the increasing presence of mobile phones and tablets as viable options for consumers to play video games. A large majority of the population carry a smart-phone, with the percentage creeping up to sixty percent in both the US and UK. That's not to say that that each and every one of the ownership play games on these devices, but the option is always there, an invitation for touch screen tapping and swiping.
The general consensus from those arguing against the Nintendo 3DS in particular is that young children prefer the iPod to the Nintendo - with one example in particular gaining attention amongst the gaming community: "put an iPad Mini and a 3DS on a table next to each other and most kids today will reach, if not jump, for the iPad", said blogger John Gruber earlier this month.
Yes, more consumers - young and old - are playing games on touch devices, but that shouldn't mean that the Nintendo 3DS suddenly becomes obsolete and irrelevant. With hardware sales soaring, a more affordable 2DS option and a strong set of upcoming games, the console has become even more pocket friendly that ever before.
There is certainly room for both dedicated gaming consoles in the market, each providing something different for the consumer - more options.
Here are ten reasons why the Nintendo 3DS is still relevant and can work alongside touch devices/mobiles in providing rich, gaming experiences whether on the move or at home.
1. Variety is the Spice of Life
Because the Nintendo 3DS and touch devices offer different setups, it allows different control mechanisms for each; there are some titles that play better on a tablet and others are more suited for Nintendo's physical button interfaces. With so much unique and innovative content across multiple platforms, there isn't a better time to own and use multiple portable devices to play video games.
Space, guns, mystery, caves, educational, music, thrillers, puzzles - there isn't a genre that isn't represented on the Nintendo 3DS or DS that players can dive straight into. Likewise on mobile/tablet platforms, there are also a range of compelling titles, but when it comes to a wider range of games that don't require additional in-game payments and give a comprehensive, rewarding experience - the Nintendo 3DS just works.
Children leap from one fad to another. One day it's Angry Birds, the next it may well be Candy Crush, but when it comes to Nintendo, the company's reputation and past quality gives that reassurance for fans and parents to come back to the likes of Super Mario Bros and Pokémon time and time again.
But what about those five minute bursts of entertainment whilst waiting for a bus or, dare I say it, going to the loo? With a "sleep" function and many titles offering quick play features, the Nintendo 3DS can join mobile/tablet platforms as a pick-up-and-play device, with the option to continue further when there's more time.
Just because someone may stop playing a Nintendo 3DS for a while and shift towards iPad, doesn't mean it's the end of the road. Because of the different, exclusive games for each platform, a gamer can easily shift from each depending on the newer titles being offered up. PCs and consoles easily co-exist, so why can't portables and mobiles?
2. Just as Good as Chocolate Buttons
On the flipside, the Nintendo's inclusion of face buttons, analogue stick, shoulder buttons in addition to a responsive touch-screen is a difficult combination to beat. A flick to the left on the circle pad will guarantee a character moving to one direction, a light press on one of the face buttons can secure that well-timed punch to the face. There's no need to continually look down at the controller to keep the action flowing. The same just doesn't quite work as well on a touch device's on-screen virtual gamepad. Sluggish, mixed interfaces depending on the game can make the experience far more difficult than it should be. There are additional physical controllers for mobiles/tablets that bridge the gap, but the compatibility is still flaky at best.
Still though, it's different stokes for different folks. There are a good range of touch/phone games that invite more touch/motion play, and do work well, but others are more suited to portable games consoles. Again, it's all about the variety and type of game being played - each format has its own set of advantages.
3. Nintendo-exclusive IPs
With Nintendo 3DS continuing to build momentum with a number of well-received exclusive games, it's a perfect time to step into these immersive, fun worlds on the move. Super Smash Bros, Mario Party and Pokémon are on the horizon.
4. Fixed, reliable hardware
Nintendo games work well simply because Nintendo, experienced and indie developers know and understand the platform, consistently pushing the initial barriers and making the most out of the setup. Whether a player uses a 2DS or 3DS XL, the game is expected to run in the exact same way (with the 3D switch set to "off".).
5. Sharing games and cartridges
The 3DS does lack the ability to share digital games and is still backwards when it comes to account management across multiple consoles - but Nintendo are looking to improve this aspect of the system in the future.
6. Affordable pricing options
Because the Nintendo 3DS offers exclusive games and physical buttons; it adds another way to play, a purpose for buying one, over, for example a separate MP3 player.
With these exclusive games, an expansive back-catalogue and the prospect of more quality titles in the future, Nintendo have pitched now three different price-points: the entry-level Nintendo 2DS out in October, the standard Nintendo 3DS model, plus the super-sized-yet-comfortable XL for those wanting a bigger screen.
The Nintendo 3DS/2DS isn't designed to replace a tablet, and with the pricing, should be a strong contender for the primary gaming device, and something to compliment the tablet/mobile whether on the move or at home.
Nintendo are renowned for longevity also, so as the mobile/tablet operating system starts to degrade slowly with time, the 3DS and DS hardware still maintain a consistent performance with potentially less maintenance required. Batteries will still need replacing eventually; but a Nintendo 3DS or 2DS console will be built to last.
8. Increasing digital options and Indie eShop Games
9. Compatibility with Nintendo DS back catalogue
The Nintendo 3DS has its own set of critically acclaimed titles like Fire Emblem Awakening, New Super Mario Bros. 2, Mario Kart 7 and Animal Crossing: New Leaf, but there is a vast collection of Nintendo 2DS games that can all be played on the system without a second's thought. The past Pokémon games, Mario Kart DS, Brain Training, Hotel Dusk and many more can be purchased at low, affordable prices and give long-lasting and innovative experiences.
10. StreetPass Content & Social Gaming
Nintendo have also opened up the door for players to share screenshots from selected games on social networks like Twitter and Facebook via a dedicated web app, making what would normally be a solo experience into a far more community driven and engaging one.
Room for bothThere is certainly room for both portable games consoles and mobile/tablet devices. Mp3/music players are on the decline because mobile/tablet devices can play the exact same song without needing an extra device. Likewise, the same dedicated DVD player has practically become obsolete because the tablet can play the exact same film, just retrieving the file digitally.
When it comes to gaming; the power of the medium grants that device-exclusive content; games to be designed and played for either the tablet/mobile or dedicated console. It's why the two can co-exist and complement one another in some ways, but offer competition in others.
That's not to say that Nintendo should simply plod along all merry and unchanging. The company have taken steps to address the wave of digital content and demand through the eShop, and are strolling towards other models like free-to-play. Nintendo will need to work harder to raise awareness for the types of experiences only available to 3DS/2DS players, but the growing power of mobile media shouldn't mean Nintendo would be written off completely. At this stage in time, one would be a fool to consider Nintendo irrelevant.
What are your thoughts - are portable gaming consoles like the PSP and 3DS still relevant alongside mobiles and tablets?