Nintendo preps 'major app strategy' for DSi

Nintendo preps 'major app strategy' for DSi
Michael French

By Michael French

March 19th 2009 at 2:17PM

Format-holder tells studios to make small-scale handheld applications, Develop understands

Nintendo may publicly claim that it doesn't consider the likes of Apple's App Store and iPhone, or even the Google G1 phone and Android Marketplace, as competitors - but Develop understands the format holder is very much working on its own 'app strategy'.

Sources which attended the top-secret Nintendo Developer Conference in London this week have told us that Nintendo has a plan in place that will push developers towards producing short-form content for its new DSi handheld.

The device includes access to the DS Shop and DSi Ware, but instead of emphasising game downloads - as has been done with previously with Wii/WiiWare - Nintendo is encouraging developers to think about making shorter 'applications', both of a games and non-game variety for the DSi.

"Our team sees this as an exciting and major app strategy for the DSi," one of our development sources explained.

Added another: "Nintendo is keen to have developers offering all kinds of software once the DSi store fully launches for access in Europe and America.

"Given the advanced functions in the DSi, such as the microphone and camera, the company told us that there are a variety of opportunities for a variety of apps, both in a games sense and a non-games sense, that we could offer."

It's possible that more details on this strategy will be revealed to the global development community - and ultimately the public - as part of Nintendo president Satoru Iwata's keynote at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco next week.

Iwata is set to "talk about Nintendo’s role in creating better tools and bringing opportunities for developers to introduce their innovative ideas to a marketplace that is increasingly willing and eager to embrace new game design possibilities".

It will be no surprise to hear Nintendo is keeping a close watch on Apple's similar App Store strategy and is keen to offer its own.

Without question, one of the biggest successes of the current 'generation' of the games industry has been the rise of the iPhone/iPod Touches. Within two years, the platform has sold 30 million hardware units - and its online open marketplace for Apps, the App Store, has over 25,000 different games and other software available.

And the iPhone has proven incredibly popular with the 'traditional' games market, as well as the independent developers that the open App Store caters to.

Many have been lured to release new iPhone games based on some of the biggest games IP; today even saw the launch of a Metal Gear Solid game for the device - the first time the franchise has ventured out of the PlayStation arena in some time.

"It seems Nintendo is keen to get across the message that its formats should be the first choice above any others for those looking to pursue new avenues for games design and ways for developers to make money," said our source.

Our source did not confirm details as to whether or not DSi Ware will follow a similar royalty and submission structure to WiiWare.

News that Nintendo is working hard behind the scenes to maintain the market leading position of its DS format will not come as a surprise to those who have worked on WiiWare projects. The firm launched what one developer described to us as a 'secret war' on PSN and Xbox Live this time last year when it came to pushing its own digital download platform for its home console.