One of the great joys of iOS gaming is getting to play all of our old favorite games again. Archives of classic games from Atari, Namco, Midway, Sega’s Genesis and more are available for download in the App Store, for reasonable prices. There’s just one set of classic games notably absent, and there’s no sign of this company changing their mind about iOS.
None of the classic Nintendo games are available for iOS. You can play Pac-Man, Joust or Zaxxon, but no Donkey Kong. You can play Sonic the Hedgehog or Spy Hunter, but not Super Mario Bros. or Mario Kart. Heck, even pinball machines have been adapted to iOS but Nintendo doesn’t want to develop their games for iOS systems because they have their own handheld system they want to sell. The Nintendo DS, 3DS or DSi have portable versions of classic NES games, via cartridge or internet download, and Nintendo wants to sell DS units.
I love the DS. It’s a beautiful handheld system that can play elaborate or simple games. I’m just not going to take my DS everywhere I go. Frankly, I don’t even have time to play with my DS anymore so buying more DS games is out of the question for me. I will always have my iPhone with me though. Nintendo, you’re not going to get another $100 out of me for a new DS, but I will pay cash money to play Donkey Kong on my iPhone.
These games represent essentially a passive income for Nintendo. They’ve already developed the game. With minimal adaptation required, they can resell the games to people who have already bought them several times over in their lifetime. We played them a quarter at a time in arcades, $40 to own them for NES, maybe even Super NES upgrades, GameBoy and DS versions. Now we want to spend another dollar or so to own them again. And that’s millions of extra dollars Nintendo can have, per game.
As of March 31st 2012, Nintendo has sold 151.52 million units in the DS family, and 17.13 million 3DS units alone according to Nintendo Life. That’s a 200% increase over reported sales in 2011 according to USA Today, when they reported 50 million total DS sales. However, even Nintendo has had to admit lower profits than they originally projected. They thought they’d sell another million or so 3DS units, but didn't. Wouldn’t some extra DLC revenue sound good right about now?
Compare that to 250 million iPhones sold and another 55 million iPads. That’s at the very least 150 million more possible customers, and many of these figures probably overlap. Those 151 million DS owners probably own iPhones too so they may buy both versions of a Nintendo game.
I know, I know, you’re worried that if we can play Nintendo games on iOS, millions of people will stop buying the DS. The number of Nintendo fans who jump ship like that should be negligible. Most Nintendo owners will stay loyal, and take advantage of additional platforms. I certainly don’t want to see Nintendo ditch hardware production. I’m still sad Sega gave up on the Dreamcast, but Sega has all their great games on iOS so I’m happy about that.
As you can tell, I’m of the Donkey Kong generation, so that is my number one want for my iOS devices. Wouldn’t the popularity of The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters make that vital again? Frankly, I would like the whole series: Donkey Kong Jr., Donkey Kong 3, Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros., Super Mario 3 (notice I skipped 2), Super Mario Land, Super Mario World, Donkey Kong Country 1-3. I was a Genesis kid so I have a lot of Super NES games to catch up on.
Metroid, Punch Out, Kid Icarus, am I forgetting something? Is there one major Nintendo franchise I haven’t thought of yet? I'm being coy but of course there's the whole Zelda series, and imagine the boon that would be on iOS. You could put the classic NES version and its next gen sequels, and sell new in-game content. People will buy coins and upgrades and charge it to their iTunes store account.
What if they could bring N64 Goldeneye to our handheld devices? The multiplayer alone would be a nonstop cash cow as people buy weapons in which to kill their friends. I’d replay all the single player campaigns myself. (Don’t get me started on the lack of James Bond games on iOS.)
Similarly, Sony games are missing because they’re still sticking with their PSP, another great handheld system. I haven’t tried their Vita because I can’t carry all these things around with me. That’s not as important, because Playstation games aren’t as classic. I mean, no one’s clamoring for a mobile Crash Bandicoot. You’ve already got your Metal Gear Solid because that’s Konami.
I have an iPhone with me all the time and I keep an iPad at home. Please, Nintendo, let me give you more money by buying games I already own for my newest piece of technology. At least for now we still have 3rd party NES games like Tetris available in the App Store. Guess that accounts for something, right?