Iwata spoke with Totilo of Kotaku on the future of dedicated gaming handhelds such as the 3DS versus the rise of smartphones like the iPhone.
“I think that if we are able to provide experiences on handheld devices that consumers cannot get on another device, then we will continue creating software and hardware going forward, and if it comes to a point when we’re not able to do that, I think, yeah, you will see portable handheld gaming devices go the way of the Dodo, I guess.”
Iwata mentioned some statistics to address the argument that the dedicated handheld market is shrinking. He disagrees with that premise.
“I think a lot of this discussion is based on the premise that the handheld gaming device market is shrinking or vanishing and I don’t think that is true and I’d like to address that,”
“As of last week, 3DS sales in Japan reached seven million, and that’s the 77th week post-launch. If we look at DS and DS Lite which people were saying, ‘oh my gosh this thing is selling like hotcakes, it’s crazy!’ it reached the seven million mark at week 72. And for the Nintendo DS that was two Christmases. For the 3DS it’s only been one Christmas. And we also had a large earthquake in Japan. And of course now there’s a smartphone boom in Japan, we’re right in the middle of it. [Note from Stephen: The Nintendo 3DS has sold 19 million units worldwide since launch, as of late June.
He also mentioned a niche that dedicated handhelds fill that smartphones do not.
“I think within games you have two needs that people fill. One is the time-filler need. The other is that it’s a very important time for me and I want to have a rich experience. Those are two separate needs, I think.” His implication was that Nintendo handheld gaming satisfied the latter need in a way that smartphone gaming typically did not.