E3 2006 News | No Nintendo Handheld Competition from Microsoft?

By Adam Riley 14.05.2006 8

When author Dean Takahashi 'revealed' in his book The XBOX 360 Uncloaked that half of the XBOX 360 team were already busy at work on their next project, a portable XBOX, many just sighed. It looked like Microsoft would try to force its way into the handheld market that Nintendo so firmly controls, just like Sony is currently doing with the PlayStation Portable. It also looked like Rare support for the Nintendo DS would quickly dry up.

However, now Neil Thompson, Head of XBOX for Northern and Eastern Europe, has countered those claims. Speaking with technology website T3, Thompson said:

"We're not even thinking about that at the moment. Handhelds, in the way you would think about a handheld like a PSP? No."

He then continued by discussing the XBOX Live Anywhere service, where Microsoft is currently focusing in order to improve its foothold in the mobile gaming market. He mentioned about how it is such a great opportunity for the company as if done right it will lead Microsoft to capitalise on the literally hundreds of millions of handsets that are out there.

So other than the Origami project, which is not a handheld gaming platform like the PSP or DS, Microsoft appears to be avoiding the choppy waters of portable gaming, where Sony is currently finding it more difficult to overthrow Nintendo than it may have imagined.

And this also all makes sense with regards to Nintendo DS support from UK outfit Rare. Whilst being wholly sold to Microsoft, the developer of GoldenEye, Banjo-Kazooie, Perfect Dark and much more has announced it is currently handling the port of Diddy Kong Racing for the Nintendo DS and still has at least one other secret project in the works. Clearly, with Microsoft deeming the DS in a different market to the XBOX 360, and seeing just how successful that platform is at the moment, it is more than happy to gain out of the situation by tapping Rare's Nintendo roots. Speculation from within Rare is that because of this tenuous link between Nintendo and Microsoft, there is a much stronger chance of Rare's older properties being made available for Nintendo's Wii Virtual Console, although nothing has been discussed openly.

Stick with C3 for further developments...

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Good read that, although something about that quote makes me think

"We're not even thinking about that at the moment. Handhelds, in the way you would think about a handheld like a PSP? No."

Couldn't that mean they may be thinking about another innovative handheld? Everyone's giving it a try these days... PSP has proves unseccessful, so maybe Microsoft said that as they want to try a new innovative handheld? I doubt it, but it's possible....

Another thing I don't get, I would have thought Microsoft were damn clever, but they're letting Rare make games for DS & GBA, even though Microsoft aren't in the console buisiness, surely they should still be trying to prevent Nintendo, their competetors, from gaining profit from one of their own companies?

Also, that last section in the news... well that's pretty good news, it means that after we got confirmation that Rare wouldn't support VC, that maybe they're thinking it over again, but I won't hold my breath Smilie

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery

It wouldn't be Rare's decision to do that. Microsoft will seriously be considering bringing Rare's past games to the XBLA service, but the potential profit that could be gained by putting certain titles out on the VC as well will be a thought swimming round some exec's head, I'm sure.

It's all a delicate balance of which business decision will make the most profit without adversely effecting future profit opportunities. The XBOX was not effected by the success of the GBA, it would appear, which is why MS was fine with Rare's handheld team working on that platform (why waste a whole section of Rare, as well?). The same idea goes for the DS, which isn't impacting on 360 sales in the US and Europe.

Plus there's the idea of the better of both evils. MS sees Sony in the strong market leading position and needs to find any way to shake the tree hard enough to loosen the grip of the PlayStation. If it means jumping into bed with Nintendo on a temporary basis, then it WILL do that. In such a cut-throat business ANY tactics will be used.

And as long as we, the consumer, benefits then all is good in the world, right? Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

I see, but I still don't get why Microsoft are letting Nintendo have the extra profits, I know that the DS & GBA don't affect the 360 or the XBOX in terms of sales, but they still get Nintendo more money, & surely the reason they make consoles it to make more money than the other person, but right now, Microsoft is letting Nintendo make more money, by letting them use Rare's handheld team.

Also, it sounds from your news article that Diddy Kong Racing DS IS a port, could this be because it might not be released for the VC, so they're releasing a DS version? (possibly with updated graphics & modes) Because that's great with me Smilie

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery

I'm not surprised by this at all. Microsoft have seen that Sony, while doing well, have had a tough time against Nintendo in the handheld market, so I think if they were to hop in they'd let one or the other kill themselves off first. Why face the strongest competitor you can get in the handheld market and come away humiliated like just about every other company has done? Sony has done the best against Nintendo so far (though as I recall Sega did quite well with Game Gear for a while in the 90s), and they've really not done THAT well.

Rare games on Virtual Console? Don't count on it, but I think it's a definite possibility with how Microsoft have let Rare develop for DS. I could see them starting deals for it then pulling out, Goldeneye on VC could be a system seller for Wii and I don't think Microsoft are wanting that...what I could see is old Rare games like Conker, Banjo Kazooie, Goldeneye, Perfect Dark, etc. coming out on both Xbox Live Arcade AND Virtual Console - I don't think I'd have any complaints about that really!

Microsoft won't access two markets at the same time. Both - XBoxes and portables - would produce massive losses. They may have more cash than god, but subsidising both markets can be too risky - even for Microsoft.

And why attacking DS and PSP via a handheld? You saw what they do: They pick mobile phones to take over the market from DS as beginning with their gaming plattform xbox-live. Why attacking it directly via a portable console too expensive to develop?
You have to be creative and inventive - things, that Microsoft never understood and were.

I find your lack of faith disturbing!

what I could see is old Rare games like Conker, Banjo Kazooie, Goldeneye, Perfect Dark, etc. coming out on both Xbox Live Arcade AND Virtual Console

Well if you're a customer who's leaning to one or the other, retro Rare games might just sway you in a direction. If both the Wii and the 360 have rare games for download, then you might just decide to get a Wii. However, if only the 360 has them, you'd be more tempted to go to a 360.

However, if they can get substantially more sales from the Wii, they might just let them be available for both consoles, and get a little profit from Wii's VC.

Who knows, it could go either way, but I imagine it'd be cleaner and easier just to keep it on the 360, but I wouldn't know.

TAG: That American Guy

"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." Romans 12:18

No need for me to add any substantial comments (another great article by the way Raz) you guys have just said it all. You all have valid points. Keep up the good work, all of you Smilie

I don't think Microsoft will ever release a handheld purely for gaming. They'll probably make a cellphone instead or something like that...cause I just cannot see Halo working on a handheld...It's like watching King Kong on a portable DVD playerSmilie

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