The Kindle Fire maybe the death knell for the 3DS. Let me explain.
The mobile gaming market has changed from being the mobile gaming market that we used to know. No longer are most people (myself included who is a Nintendo Fanboy remember) willing to carry around a dedicated gaming machine. We are happy with our phones playing casual games. We are happy with an all in one device. Who wants to carry around a phone, an iPod, a PDA and a game handheld? I like cargo shorts as much as the next guy but thats too many pockets. Device makers knew this long before we did. Hence the smartphone. It’s all of those things in one device.
Then tablets came along. They do all of the above minus the phone part. While we love reading emails on our phones writing them out is a pain in the butt. We really need a larger screen and with tablets we got one. Games now have a much larger display, battery and processor power to play with. The downside though has always been the price. At $500 dollars not everyone can really justify an iPad. We may all want one but they are just out of our reach. This is why most of the games on tablets aren’t really in the hardcore category. Money.
The people who can afford these devices tend to have real life bills to also pay off. They may have kids or a house or a Minecraft server needing upkeep. If they buy these devices it’s usually to fill and fun is a secondary factor. And while every 15 year old may want an iPad I suspect most parents balk at the price tag and say no way. You’ll shoot your eye out.
This is where the Kindle Fire becomes extremely interesting. It has all of the benefits of tablets without the pricetag negative. Sure the specs are as good but it costs 300 dollars less and has an Appstore. It won’t be getting the same types of software that the iPad gets but that doesn’t matter. We’ve seen it time and time again, better hardware doesn’t always win. Wii over the 360 and PS3. DS over the PSP. PS2 over the GameCube and XBox. Gameboy over everything else in the 90s.
So where does this leave Nintendo? The Fire is a pure media consumption device with a browser. And at 200 dollasr it’s only 30 dollars more expensive than the 3DS and plays all of the Android games Amazon will put on their store. It also has the benefit of being on a yearly update cycle and not 18-24 months like handhelds. Plus they can completely change up their architecture unlike handhelds and still play everything you’ve ever bought from Amazon. And let us not forget that Amazon already has a Steam like service for full fledged PC games. What if they buy Roku and sell their own Amazon TV for 30 bucks? All of a sudden you have an OnLive type service to your tv for next to nothing.
All of these things are possible with the Fire. They aren’t with the 3DS.
People are comparing the Fire to the iPad. The iPad isn’t going anywhere. It’s a great device. Apple will own the tablet market for years. The Fire, though, will do great. It has essentially won the Android Tablet wars by being consumer friendly and not geek friendly. I like Android but it’s not for normal people. Maybe for those people (geeks) who love to tinker. I love my Droid X. But only after I rooted it and installed Liberty on it along with LaucherPro. Took hours upon hours to do this. But at the end this contract I know my next phone will be an iPhone. The Kindle Fire will most likely do a small dent into the iPad’s market share. Maybe 30%. At 10 million units shipped a quarter that is still a lot of tablets.
And developers are starting to take notice. More and more companies are working on mobile games right now. They are testing the waters but they will end up liking it. They will see the much larger market for their games on devices that don’t come from Sony or Nintendo and start making better, more hardcore games for iOS and Android.
So don’t compare the Kindle Fire to the iPad. The iPad will still look better and it should. It costs 300 dollars more. Compare it to something thats in the same price range. Compare it to the 3DS. Does the 3DS have 8 gig’s of internal storage? A modern Web Browser? Access to one of the largest Appstores on the planet? Last for longer than 4 hours on a charge?
You must ask yourself the question most people will ask. Would you rather a device at 170 dollars that does pretty much one thing and lasts half as long on a charge as a device at 30 dollars more that does everything? Sure the games maybe not the most sophisticated games but when was the last time you played a fifty hour game on your DS?
Perhaps when the 3DS Lite comes out and costs less and has a better battery things may change. But with the biggest advantage of the 3DS being it’s 3D being less emphasized and even rumored to be taken out of the next redesign what’s the advantage? 40 dollar Nintendo games?