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August 18, 2006 |
Sankei news

I just discovered an article in the Sankei news that says that this year, for the first time, portable game devices outsold stationary consoles in Japan. This was because of the overwhelming popularity of the Nintendo DS. Over 10 million units have been sold in Japan. Games such as Brain Age, that have crossed the boundaries of age and gender are a cornerstone of the growth of the handheld gaming market. By contrast, the PSP is struggling, and has only a fraction of the market of the DS.

Although the article does not mention this, it is probably worth noting that households are likely to make an investment in multiple portable game devices though not more than one of each brand of stationary console. It is quite common for sibs to each have their own DS, but probably less common to have their own PS2. This trend seems to mirror the relation between the PC and the mobile phone in Japan. The PC is often shared between household members and is the more powerful multi-function device. But the mobile device is the personal one-per-person device that ends up seeing the most use.

This summer I loaded up on new games for my DS. In addition to Brain Age, I also picked up the new DS interactive cookbook and the kanji training game. These are rounding out the more standard stable of games like Super Mario Brothers, Yugioh, Animal Crossing, Naruto RPGs and Pheonix Wright Ace Attourney that have also been keeping me happy on my plan rides. My daughter is currently hooked on the Tamagotchi DS game which is a twist on an Animal Crossing-like play mechanic. She is waiting eagerly for the Oshare Majo DS game which debuts this fall, and features a hardware attachment so kids can swipe their fashion item trading cards to dress up the two girl characters. I’m debating whether it is worth getting the wifi connector so that I can use my DS as a browser, but my guess is I’ll probably continue to rely on my laptop for that set of functions.

Its exciting to see that handheld gaming space expand into new genres, demographics, and play formats. The current developments with the DS may be a preview of some interesting trends in device convergence and portable computing in the coming years.