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Destructoid Discusses! iPod touch vs DS, also DSi

2:23 AM on 10.06.2008 // Dyson

In the "news" that the iPod touch will somehow trump the Nintendo DS Lite as the portable handheld of choice, we decided to discuss the merits of both of the systems and how they would effect each other's markets. My take?

Personally, the iPod touch thingy will sell a ton of games, but it won't replace the DS because they're two different markets. Saying that it will succeed is a no-brainer, but gamers buy video game systems, not mp3 players, for games. Making a DVD player that toasts bread will sell because people like DVD players, but it won't replace people's toasters.


Nick Chester

"Making a DVD player that toasts bread will sell because people like DVD players, but it won't replace people's toasters."

So, is that anything like a game system that also plays DVDs replacing a standalone DVD player? Because the PlayStation 2 is totally mad that you forgot about it.

Seriously, how many people used the PS2 as their DVD player of choice, simply because it was there? How people haven't purchased a standalone DVD player because their Xbox 360 already serves that purpose? You know what I don't need to buy now? A Blu-ray player; my PlayStation 3 already serves that purpose. It should also be noted that I had no intention of buying a Blu-ray player to begin with (I'm all about the future of high-def digital streams and downloads, baby).

I guess my point is this -- while I don't think that the iPhone will trump the DS, I think people are underestimating the impact it could (potentially) have on the market. With solid software, gamers who own an iPhone will play games on it because well, they like good games. Non-gamers who own an iPhone may dabble in its games, and then feel no real need to spend cash on a PSP or a DS because of that functionality.

For the record, I wouldn't buy a DVD player that makes toast, because why on Earth would I want to watch a DVD in the kitchen? Or make toast in my living room?

Jim Sterling

Anybody who underestimates the iPhone is being naive. That's not to say that it will dominate the DS -- that's going to be incredibly tough to do given that it, like the Wii, has cornered a huge market. However, one can never write off the power of a product that has a lower case "i" preceding its name. People desire the iPhone simply because of the name, and that is unbridled marketing power. Speaking in terms of pure brand names, I would say that Apple and the "i" products are way more commercially viable than the Nintendo name. People buy the Wii because it's that cute white box they saw on the news. People by the iPhone because it's an iPhone. That is the kind of clout that makes Apple a potentially huge future contender in the games industry.

Jonathan Ross

What will prevent the iPhone from becoming a major force in gaming is that they're tied to AT&T. They're cutting off a pretty significant chunk of the market who can't or won't switch service providers, and that's the limitation for it becoming a full-fledged gaming machine. Imagine if the 360 only worked if you had Comcast cable.

I know they have the iPod Touch, but it doesn't have all the power of the iPhone, and the lack of Internet will severely limit it. If Apple ever opens it up to everyone, it has a shot as a serious force in gaming, but as it stands now I don't think it does.


We actually have a DVD player and a TV in our kitchen. It does not make toast, though.

I see your point, and I agree, but I think that a person overtly stating that the iPod will trump the DS is preposterous. I also think that they will sell a lot of games on the iPhone platform, but I don't think that our standard gaming companies will move one way or the other with the platform.

Looking at what's been sold and released on cell phones, you see that gaming companies have converted their older titles to be released on those platforms. Monkey Ball sold a ton on the iPhone, but that's an old game (also Sonic for the Nano). What I think you will see are the traditional companies taking a piece of the pie by converting their older titles for sale on the iPod Touch, but then see a new set of companies making Touch-specific titles. More likely than not, these companies will be the ones that are currently making Web browser games or flash games.

Jim Sterling

Oh, I am fairly confident that the iPhone will likely not trump the DS. It does have too much of a cornered market right now. However, as a prep tool for potential future victories in gaming, I think it will be quite significant.

Jonathan Holmes

The portable market has always been a weird one, where the only universal rule is the weakest, cheapest hardware wins. The original Game Boy beat the Atari Lynx, despite the fact that the Game Boy was weaker than the NEW, while the Lynx was more powerful than the Turbografx-16 (the higher-energy videogame system). Same happened with the Game Boy Color and the Sega Nomad. And it's not like the Nomad didn't have good games. It had the entire Sega Genesis library backing it up.
This trend has held true all the way up to today with the DS and the PSP.
In short, if the iPhone ends up being cheap and weak, then maybe it has a chance.

Samit Sarkar

Jonathan Ross already made the argument that I was going to make (damn you!). Until the iPhone is available to non-AT&T customers, it won't make a dent in the sales of the DS and its games. Hell, I'm not sure that it will do so even after I can get one on Verizon. Still, now that the cheapest iPhone is $199, the price point isn't as much of an obstacle -- sure, you can pick up a DS Lite for $129.99, but you can obviously do much more than just play games with your iPhone.

But while I can see a niche market developing for gaming on the iPhone, I can't see it ever coming close to, let alone overtaking, traditional handheld gaming (i.e., DS and PSP). People don't buy the iPhone for the games that are available on it, and the device isn't likely to be anyone's primary gaming platform. In addition, many of the games that are currently out on the iPhone are, as Dyson said, older titles (and there's also your typical portable fare, like Tetris and its ilk). It doesn't help that the iPhone has draconian restrictions on it, and don't forget that the cheapest plan you can currently get for it will cost you $70 a month plus tax.


[DSi was announced midway through this email chain!]

Since this bled over to this week, and the new DSi was announced, any thoughts on carrying on from here and combining them both? Because now we'll have a DS with a camera, yes, a camera?!

Adam Dork

I was about to shoot out that that it couldn't be considered a camera since the resolution is so small, but then realize my iSight and PS Eye is the same resolution and it works out fine. Maybe I was wrong that the camera was a waste, but I'd still rather use my digital camera for such things. But one thing that will make the device ever so enticing is what Nintendo will do with it, which is exactly what Nintendo is known for.

I'd love to have it, but I'm not completely sure if I can justify the purchase since my DSPhatter (extended battery attached to make it extra big) is still ticking long and strong. Here's hoping it dies in time?

Joe Burling

You should have gone with your gut instinct... it's not a camera.

Jonathan Holmes

No backwards compatibility and no increase in processing powers makes the DSi the equivalent to the Game Boy Micro, a sideways step that probably won't take off. People with the money for a DSi already have a DS, a digital camera, and a MP3 player. They won't need an all-in-one. That doesn't mean the DSi won't sell extremely well for about six months after release, but after that I can't see it doing that well. Anyone willing to think their purchase through will just wait for the DS2 to drop in the next two years.
The one thing that could change my opinion is if the the DSi gets really good exclusives, games that use the camera in innovative ways, and/or games sold only via direct download. Sadly, I just don't see that happening. If you're a developer, you wouldn't want to make such a game, as it would be a huge unnecessary risk. Better to just make your game fully compatible with the millions of DS phats and DS Lites already out in the wild.


If the DSi isn't as epic as the Game Boy Camera, then Nintendo is dead to me.

Mike "Savant" Ferry

Yeah, I'm a little late to the party, but I've got a few things to say.

First off, the iPhone/iPod Touch as a supplemental gaming device is wonderful. There are some seriously inventive games out there, but nothing as polished as the top-tier handheld games. Granted, iPhone gaming is still in its infancy and will only get better with time.

Is it going to usurp the DS? Hell no.

Oh, and the DSi? What the !@#$ is that? The DS Lite was perfectly fine and didn't need these "improvements." Third-gen DS? I think not. I'd rather Nintendo have released a solution to play DS games on our TV. That would save my eyes a lot of strain whilst playing Phoenix Wright.

Lastly, Nintendo better not screw up Punch-Out!!. That is all.

Jonathan Holmes

Yeah, I'm still puzzled that Nintendo seems to think that we don't want DS games on our TV. I'm glad Square-Enix is catching on, as evidenced by their new DS/Wii combo Crystal Chronicles game, and Nintendo would do well to follow suit.
And Savant, don't be shocked about the third-generation DS. The Game Boy Advance had three generations; the OG Game Boy did too, if you count the Game Boy Color. Nintendo's like the Terminator in that way. They absolutely will not stop, until consumer interest is dead.
DS games on your TV? I don't want that. Why would I want that? I would love to be able to download content from my Wii, but not the other way around.
Joe Burling
As far as I'm concerned, this is basically the same thing they did with the Wii... they took an existing product (DS/GC) and repackaged it (DSi/Wii).
If you meant GBA/GC, then I agree with you. But I certainly don't think that it's a bad thing. The GBA/GC connectivity was cool, but not really conducive to a whole lot of fun. With the DS and the Wii being completely wireless, it makes what they were trying to do so much more better.
Still, DL content for the DS from Wii. Not the other way around. 
Joe Burling
Yes, that's what I meant.

The GB was released in 1989. Its successor, the GBC, didn't come until 1998, almost 9 years later. Then the shorter lifecycles started...   GBA was released 3 years later in 2001. The DS was released 3 years later in 2004. At this rate, we would have expected the successor to the DS to be in 2007, but it never came. Instead, we got the DS Lite in 2006 and now the DSi in 2008/09. Where's the successor? Nintendo isn't giving us a new handheld, they are repackaging the same handheld.

Now, when the GC turned into the Wii, a couple things happened. They tweaked the guts of the GC a little, but the the biggest change was the control scheme. There wasn't really a visual difference in the way games looked, just in the way they played. I admit there is a much bigger difference going from the GC to the Wii, mostly because a different game format was inherent to the different control scheme, but I don't think it can be denied that Nintendo has been recycling a lot recently.
Jonathan Holmes
Joe, you forgot the Game Boy Pocket.

Joe Burling
So we get to the end of another Dtoid Discusses. Have we proved anything beyond the fact that Nintendo is going to release another version of the DS? Meh, maybe. I guess that's for you to decide. What do you think about Nintendo's big announcement? Do you think that the news of a new DS will continue Nintendo's dominance in the handheld market arena? Does Steve Jobs' proclamation of their new unit's strength in the game department even pose a chance of taking down the industry leader?
Shall we discuss it?

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