Apple’s mistake, Nintendo’s opening

Nintendo may have a hit on their hands with the Switch. It’s still early days but the sales of the new Nintendo Switch have been encouraging with a purported 1.5m units sold in just over a week of sales.

A main driver of the early success is of course the new Legend of Zelda game, the Breath of the Wild. According to SuperData, approximately 89% of Switch owners also purchased the game with their new console.

One of the potential drivers of future sales is the indie and retro market. E.g.

  • The Binding of Isaac
  • Shovel Knight
  • King of Fighters
  • Metal Slug 3
  • Ultra Street Fighter II

Apple could have had access to this market, in fact it does, sorta. Most of these games (e.g. Binding of Isaac, Street Fighter) are available on iOS.

But what Apple has failed to do is to execute on the idea. It boils down to physical controls. Not everyone is a leet gamer able to do amazing things via on-screen controls.

There’s been plenty of controllers for iOS devices but they are flaky. Either they don’t work well with iOS or the games don’t support it.

Apple decided on a heavy handed MFI (made for iPod) certification system which was expensive and not everybody signed up for it.

They should have just supported USB game controllers and made it easy and cheap to be certified.

So they’ve missed the boat as far as I’m concerned. They could have forced all developers to support USB controllers but they didn’t.

Now Nintendo has come up with an alternative platform that has mobile and home gaming applications with support for physical controls which can benefit from the demand for retro games (nostalgia) and indie games (non-mainstream gaming).

Apple could have done it for mobile gaming (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad) and home gaming (Apple TV) but have dropped the ball. Too bad Apple. I would have loved to give you (more) money.

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