Nintendo DS = Facebook?

Mobile | 2007/07/26 09:07 | Web 2.0 Asia

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Over 40 million Nintendo DS game devices have been sold worldwide, including 20M in Japan. This led some people to wonder if Nintendo DS can be used as a platform for social interactions. The gaming device is mostly used for personal fun now (i.e. person-device interaction) but as Nintendo DS supports connectivity (Wifi and, possibly with proper accessories, bluetooth), the game device might some day double up as a social interaction device.  

I wrote in yesterday's post that Nintendo users match the users of Facebook in terms of sheer numbers (40M vs. 38M) and the passion towards their platform. So can Nintendo DS be the social interaction platform, thereby becoming the "hardware version of Facebook" so to speak?

Here are some things that I think make it difficult for Nintendo DS to become a social platform:

1. It is still difficult for 3rd parties to develop and distribute social games

Nintendo is notorious for favoring in-house software development over fostering external third parties. One company tells me that they made it all the way to Kyoto where Nintendo is situated and had to be kicked out after 30 minutes in a pretty humiliating way, hearding the last words "go read our website again and come back". Nintendo is cocky, and their recent huge success doesn't help there.

So, if there should be more social games, no other company but Nintendo itself has to step up. Which doesn't seem the case at least for the time being.

2. Networking feature not as smooth as it should be

Getting DS connected to the net and finding other connected user is not exactly a quick snap. In practice it can take up to a minute for the device to detect the connection and other connected devices. The delay would tally up if we also count asking the other user to join the game and waiting for him/her to accept.

3. For Nintendo DS to become a social device, every participant to the network has to keep the same program running

You know Nintendo DS titles come in a package, meaning if more than two people want to engage in networking, they should have the same package (=game) inserted to their device, thereby running networking-based application simultaneously, which wouldn't be the case all the time.

So, despite many people's expectation, I think it's still a bit early to expect Nintendo DS to become the hardware for social networking, in other words, the "hardware version of Facebook". But this is only my short observation, and those people who are more into the gaming industry than I am might know better.

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