E3 2014: When did Apple become more relevant than Nintendo?

Sections: Conferences, E3, Games, iDevice Apps, iPhone/iPod touch/iPad, Mac Software

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Nintendo @ E3 2014

I’m currently at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, waiting to board a flight to LA that’s delayed 2-1/2 hours because the crew is sleepy. That’s not a joke. They arrived in town late last night, and the FAA requires a certain amount of rest before they can fly again. I was always under the impression that this is what cocaine is for, but I guess United reserves that perk for its hub-based pilots.

The extra time here at the airport has afforded me the opportunity to go over my schedule for the Electronics Entertainment Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center this week. It’s a ridiculous schedule; the type an indie rock band would set up for a tour when they need to play a show every night in order to break even on the tour. Of course, at E3 I’ll be receiving t-shirts, not selling them.

What strikes me most as I look at my schedule and sort through the meeting invitations I couldn’t accept is that pretty much every big name company has an iOS or Mac game (or five) they want to talk about: Square Enix, Electronic Arts,, for starters. Apple’s name is on the rise in the gaming community, while Nintendo’s is…

Well, understand first of all that I’m a fan of Nintendo. We have two 3DSes and one DS in heavy rotation in our family. When I finally aboard the airplane, I’ll rotate my time between the 3DS XL and iPad to keep me entertained for five hours. I even own a Wii U—bought on launch day—and may be the only person within a 50 mile radius who does. At the local GameStop, the store is now split into Xbox, Playstation and Games Only Hiner Buys sections.

Nintendo will have a magnificent booth at E3 2014, and I’ll spend my free time there. But as I look at the E3 floor map, it’s painfully obvious that Nintendo games will not stretch far beyond their own booth. Yes, of course, there’ll be 3DS games, but Wii U? No. There are more companies talking about Mac compatible games than Wii U games, and my unscientific breakdown shows there are as many iOS games as 3DS titles.

There are points to argue here, I know. “A lot of the iOS games are freemium crap.” But know what? That’s just the modern version of shovelware that console and handheld gamers have been avoiding for years. “Most of the Mac games are just PC ports.” Big deal. At least the Mac gets ports. Are Ubisoft and Sega porting their games to Wii U? No?

Nintendo fans will make other arguments against me, and they’ll win. I want them to! Be that as it may, the fact that I can even logically toss this argument out there says a lot about Nintendo, Apple, and the state of gaming in general.

Personally, I can find good and bad in it all. On the Mac side, I’m thrilled that games we would’ve never seen five years ago (or at least not see until three years after they hit the bargain bin on the PC side) are now getting simultaneous releases. There’s a lot for us to look forward to, and I’ll be covering most of it this week. On the iOS side, it’s rewarding to find the games that break through the freemium nonsense to offer a solid gaming experience…the ones that make console gamers a little bit envious (or at least hilariously angry about in developer forums, as with last year’s announcement of Deus Ex: The Fall).

On the Nintendo side, I really hope the company gets it together with the Wii U. Getting quality first-party games will never be a problem (aside from the long delays between them of course), but when Square-Enix is more excited to tell me about the iOS announcements than anything for Nintendo’s console, there’s just something seriously wrong about that. Apple gamers used to be on a lonely bubble. I’m happy to be off that. And yet, I find myself right back on a nearly-as-lonely Nintendo bubble.

The only difference is that I would’ve never abandoned the Macintosh just to play PC games. I wouldn’t have much trouble, however, moving from the Wii U to the PS4. The Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper DLC won’t last forever, you know.

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