Siliconera Speaks Up: Is The iPhone A Threat To The DS?

This article is over 15 years old and may contain outdated information

Recommended Videos

Do you think the iPhone is giving the DS a run for its money? Is it still too early to call the iPhone a gaming platform, or has it already happened?


Jenni: I think that the iPhone can definitely be considered a gaming platform, but it’s nowhere near the equal of the DS. The Apple product isn’t even a threat to the upcoming DSi. The iPhone is just too different compared to the DS/DSi. Instead of hurting one another, the two handhelds likely compliment one another.

If anything, I’d think that the iPhone would be hurting PSP sales more than DS sales, since both handhelds have similar functions. Both devices play music, have internet browsers, internet radio, downloadable games, picture viewing capabilities and a wide screen. The PSP definitely pales, when you factor in that it needs peripherals for the camera and GPS functions and only has Skype functions.


Ishaan:The iPhone most certainly could give the DS a run for its money as far as digitally distributed content is concerned. DSiWare has yet to prove itself a competitor in the digital games space, and unless Nintendo starts to get a little more ambitious than Zelda-themed clocks; yeah, iTunes is most likely going to outclass a lot of software on DSiWare.

That said, the retail market is far from dead and the iPhone doesn’t have any buttons suited for games. That’s the end of the story as far as I’m concerned. Sure, a Phoenix Wright or a completely stylus-controlled game a la Phantom Hourglass or Ninja Gaiden could work, but I seriously doubt anyone would opt to create the majority of those exclusively for iPhone over DS given their target audiences. One could also argue that full-digital is the way to go for handhelds, but nothing stops Nintendo from simply allowing for that via a firmware upgrade if cartridge prices prove to be a problem in the future. Will iPhone do a few cool things that we’ll find ourselves wishing DS was capable of? Most certainly. Will it take the DS’s place as the leading videogame system? I doubt it. It’s not a dedicated games device.


Louise: What the iPhone and iPod touch lack in actual buttons, it makes up for in reach. I know my dad, who’s not a gamer at all, would be more likely to own an iPhone than a DS. He does like the occasional puzzle or brain game, so a puzzle game that’s easy to pick up and play for a few minutes like Trism on the iPhone would be perfect for him.

Like Ishaan said, the iPhone is far from being in competition with the DS and PSP where gamers are concerned. There’s just a lot more than the DS with it’s stylus AND buttons, or the PSP with its GPU and wide screen can do better than the iPhone. Let’s put it this way: if I were going on a 1 hour plane trip, I can deal with just having an iPhone as entertainment, but any longer and I’d have to pack my DS or PSP or end up stabbing my eyes out of boredom.


Ishaan: Ooh, that’s a great point. iPhone stands a very good chance in the super-casual market. But what you mentioned in your post brought to mind two other things:

  1. iPhone’s touch input is heat-sensitive, isn’t it? That means there’s definitely a disadvantage as far as precision is concerned because a stylus is a lot more precise than your fingers.
  2. I didn’t think about this until recently, but I really can’t believe we’ve been playing on portables with a single screen for so many years. I think the game that really made me reflect upon this was Contra 4, where they extended the size of the levels vertically, so you’d have enemies sniping at you from above. Order of Ecclesia is great in this regard as well. And of course, having your map and whatnot on a separate screen is really convenient in RPGs and the like.


Jenni: I agree with Louise, that the iPhone/iPod Touch will definitely win out in the casual markets.

I think the iPhone would be much more detrimental to the PSP than the DS. The DS has already established itself, has a wide and devoted fanbase and a unique niche filled by its own abilities.

The PSP, on the other hand, has been floundering for a while. Aside from Square Enix and Atlus, and occasionally Namco Bandai and NIS, it isn’t really receiving any love. Skype was kind of a bust, since the system can only use it near Wi-Fi hot spots. There’s still no GPS or camera peripheral in the states. The PlayStation Store’s offerings are hardly stellar. And, this may be just me, but I can’t see buying an extra, larger memory card to download the PlayStation Store games onto. I’ve been relying on the 1mb one that came with my Daxter bundle.


Spencer:I don’t really see the iPhone as a direct competitor to the Nintendo DS and PSP, both of which are designed to be gaming gadgets first. Like Louise, I see the iPhone as a platform that expands the audience to people who wouldn’t be interested in buying a portable console in the first place. Most iPhone games are short time killers too, sort of like Flash games. You can jump in and out of these kinds of games while waiting in a checkout line for five minutes. A meaty RPG can’t be enjoyed with quick burst play like that.

Our lifestyle will affect how people perceive the iPhone as a gaming platform too. Outside of metropolitan areas most people in the US drive to get from point A to point B which means long trips are planned in advance. If I know I’m going to travel far I’ll pack a portable. In Japan and densely populated spots in Asia life is different. Public transportation is much more common and it might not be worth it to lug around a handheld in your pocket for a short 15-20 minute subway ride. However, you’ll still carry your mobile phone which can double as a timekiller. Given a choice between only playing an iPhone for a half an hour drive or bringing a DS/PSP and leaving it in the car I think most people will pick their DS or PSP.


Louise: Spencer brings up an interesting point. I think as cities get more populated and public transportation becomes more widely used, people will want to find things to do while they’re traveling from one place to another. Sadly, it seems like playing a game on your iPhone is more accepted if you’re an adult than playing something on the DS or PSP. For the market of people who aren’t usually gamers, the iPhone is a way to get into casual games and maybe dip their toe into other portable games in the future.

Siliconera is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more about our Affiliate Policy
Image of Louise Yang
Louise Yang
Former Siliconera staff writer who loves JRPGs like Final Fantasy and other Square Enix titles.