Online Downloads: iPhone vs. 3DS, PSP2

Online Downloads: iPhone vs. 3DS, PSP2

Angry Birds by Rovio is the story of irritated fowl, greedy egg-napping pigs, and big, big, slingshots. It’s also one of the most successful downloadable games (and game apps) of all time, with 10 million copies currently existing on Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch devices alone.

Angry Birds has since hit Android, Nokia smartphones, and will soon be coming to the Nintendo DSi, Xbox Live Arcade, Playstation Network, PSP, and WiiWare. Suffice it to say that if you have access to an electronic device with a screen, you will most assuredly be allowed to flip the bird.

Apple’s iOS devices are generally regarded as a threat to the prosperity of Sony and Nintendo’s handheld gaming devices specifically because innovative, inexpensive games like Angry Birds are just a touch away on the App Store. But as we can see through Rovio’s wide release, the App Store’s best offerings aren’t guaranteed to be exclusive. In fact, most hit casual games–like PopCap’s Plants vs. Zombies and Gameloft’s updated version of Oregon Trail–have seen (or will see) eventual release on XBLA, PSN, or as WiiWare or DSiWare. Given the free and easy release of hit downloadable games across multiple platforms, is Apple set to dominate the gaming market as thoroughly as some people think?

If we see multiple releases closer together, Nintendo and Sony probably won’t have as much to fear from Apple’s strengthening grip on the handheld games market. The key word here is “if,” because the handheld games industry outside of Apple has some distribution problems that need to be addressed as quickly as possible. The release schedule for games on the PSN and especially the DSiWare service are a joke: One game a week just won’t cut it in the upcoming handheld generation.

The current release gulf between iPhone and other handheld tech is significant, too. One problem might be the time it takes for Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft games to receive an ESRB branding, which Apple doesn’t deal with. Either way, anyone who wants to play Angry Birds or Plants vs. Zombies has already played it. That’s not to say the games won’t sell when they finally become DSiWare, but it’s not likely the Nintendo DSi is going to see ten million Angry Birds downloads. But Nintendo and Sony might be able to increase sales if the companies work more closely with independent developers. Even if small developers can’t be convinced to skip the iPhone in favor of the Nintendo 3DS or PSP 2, must-have bonuses exclusive to each version will help secure sales from fans who want to experience an old favorite from a new angle.

With some careful planning and close communication, Apple’s bite on Nintendo and Sony’s handheld systems won’t feel as sharp. Time will tell if and when such measures will be implemented–and we’d better see some quick changes.

About Nadia Oxford
Nadia is a freelance writer living in Toronto. She played her first game at four, decided games were awesome, and has maintained her position since. She writes for 1UP.com, Slide to Play, GamePro and other publications, and is About.com’s Guide to the Nintendo DS.

1 Comments

  1. Also, a company that would be on the ball about allowing an easier sift through the game offers would have a tremendous advantage over the AppStore. Trying to see what’s offered in the AppStore in an exploratory way is not really feasible at this point.

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