Wiim:

Samurais had only just been abolished when Nintendo started doing business. Nintendo has always been on its own track. And now that’s changing.

(…)

Take your Zelda and NX announcements, discuss them all day if you have to, but the most monumental announcement is the birth of a Nintendo that no longer marches to its own tune.

Nintendo has always been at its best and at its worst1 when it ignored what everybody else was doing, and carved out its own path. With the announcement that Nintendo will start making real mobile games, not just Pokémon spin-offs and weird experiments, and with this announcement of Nintendo’s leadership changes, we might have lost the single most important, most daring, most peculiar voice in gaming.


  1. At its worst financially — personally, I still think that Mario Tennis on the Virtual Boy is a fantastic game. back

Ash Huang:

Product design is all about edge cases. It’s trying to figure out how users will break your system, and doing your best to anticipate that. It’s helping humans be better humans and keeping them from falling through cracks.

Steve Jobs, via Egg Freckles:

Focusing is saying yes, right? No. Focusing is about saying no. You’ve got to say, no, no, no. The result of that focus is going to be some really great products where the total is much greater than the sum of the parts.

I think that most companies can’t be successful with one stack of system software. Rarely can they manage two.

Sara Wachter-Boettcher:

We started our research when Facebook’s Year In Review feature first juxtaposed his daughter’s face — his daughter Rebecca, who died of aggressive brain cancer on her sixth birthday — with balloons and partiers.

What we’ve found, over and over, is an industry willing to invest endless resources chasing «delight» — but when put up to the pressure of real life, the results are shallow at best, and horrifying at worst.

Via William Van Hecke.

Security

A hospital in California is infected with ransomware, and forced to pay $17,000 to decrypt their own patient information. Ransomware ships with a legitimate Mac app and is remotely installed on people’s computers using the software’s auto-update mechanism. Remote administration tools are installed on people’s computers without their knowledge, and used to spy on them. Cars can be remotely controlled by hackers. Android malware steals people’s banking information. Since more and more information is stored online, identity theft is becoming easier, particularly because governmental and private databases containing personal information are regularly breached.

I could keep adding to this list, and literally never stop, because people are exploiting security problems in computer systems faster than I can type.

For the past 20 years, we’ve lived in a world where the Internet is ubiquitous, and more and more devices connect to it. At the same time, we’re still using computer systems, and an approach to security, that was largely designed for a threat model that did not include the Internet.

At the same time, computers, from the tiny smartphones in our pockets to huge data centers in far-away countries, contain more and more of our personal data.

It is to Apple’s great credit that, more than any other company, they have invested tremendous resources into making iOS an operating system that’s designed for a world in which the Internet exists.

All of this makes it particularly disheartening to see our own governments trying to undermine the work that goes into making us more secure. Not just with the lastest attacks on Apple, but also with previous actions (like the DMCA) that made security research harder, or even illegal, that targeted security researchers directly, and that made it much more difficult—sometimes impossible—for software companies to secure their products properly.

All of this doesn’t just have a direct negative impact on our security; it also has a chilling effect on future security research and development. Why should I invest any money into fixing security problems with my software, if it will just lead to trouble with the government?

We’re all vulnerable, since we’re still mostly using software designed for a pre-Internet era. There’s very little we can personally do to make ourselves more secure.

Instead of trying to fix this problem, our own governments are fighting to make us even less secure.

Clearly, this is not helping.

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I’ve written an essay for the February issue of PragPub. You can get it here.

Via Daring Fireball, Maciej Ceglowski:

To repeat a suggestion I made on Twitter, I contend that text-based websites should not exceed in size the major works of Russian literature.

(…)

If you open that tweet in a browser, you’ll see the page is 900 KB big.

That’s almost 100 KB more than the full text of The Master and Margarita, Bulgakov’s funny and enigmatic novel about the Devil visiting Moscow with his retinue (complete with a giant cat!) during the Great Purge of 1937, intercut with an odd vision of the life of Pontius Pilate, Jesus Christ, and the devoted but unreliable apostle Matthew.

For a single tweet.

On a related note, Bauke Roesink recently asked a bunch of web developers what kinds of CSS frameworks they used. If there’s any kind of bright spot in this, it’s that a quarter of people responded with «none», making «none» the third most used CSS framework.

To quote Alex Papadimoulis:

What if I were to tell you…CSS is already a framework for styling HTML, and that by actually taking the time to learn it, one can make significantly less shitty websites that are actually responsive, don’t require a quad-core with 8GB of ram just to render, and that another front-end-developer who isn’t hip on whatever flavor-of-the-month bullshit framework can actually be able to maintain it?

This also applies to JS frameworks, by the way.

Thomas Brand, Why I Carry a Newton:

When you turn on a smartphone you are presented with a grid of applications that represent tasks your phone can do. When you turn on a Newton you are presented with your content. On a Newton [there] is no workflow to follow to get back to your writing because you are already there. There is no file system past a simple index. No open or save dialog boxes because what you write and read is always in front of you. A pad of paper never gets in your way because there is nothing between you and the content.

A few days ago, Josh Clark sent me a copy of his latest book, Designing for Touch. I’ve been reading it over the holidays, and I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s well organized, succinct and to the point, but also manages to cover a lot of ground, and go in depth on the most important topics. Like all books from A Book Apart, it’s beautifully designed.

In short, if you are designing for touchscreen devices (and really, who isn’t, nowadays?), go pick it up.

Nintendo, Two Years Later

Two years ago, I wrote about NIntendo and the console market. I wrote a follow-up a year ago. I’m doing it again this year. I’m going to cover the same two points I covered in the last follow-up:

  1. Did mobile devices kill the console market?
  2. Can Nintendo survive without making mobile games?

Did mobile devices kill the console market?

Here’s the quote from Asymco’s article that triggered this whole discussion:

The implications are that Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft are beyond the point of no return in this industry. Gaming, as a business, cannot be sustained as a platform independent of a general purpose computer. Like other «applications» that used to have systems built around them conforming to their needs the dedicated-purpose solutions came to be absorbed into the general-purpose platforms. And the modern general purpose computer is the smartphone.

Two years later, what does the data tell us? 26 months after its launch date, the PS3 had sold around 20 million consoles. Today, after the same amount of time, the PS4 has sold over 33 million consoles. The Xbox One, a console generally not seen as a huge success, is also outselling its predecessor. Currently at slightly over 18 million consoles sold, its predecessor had sold just under 16 million consoles at the same point in its lifespan.

The one console that is failing to outdo its predecessor — by a huge margin — is the Wii U. Currently, it stands a bit under 12 million consoles sold, with monthly sales numbers trailing the PS4 and Xbox One by quite a margin.

I think it’s fair to say that the console market has not become unsustainable, given that two of the three major consoles are outselling their predecessors.1 Mobile gaming has not displaced console gaming; the two serve different markets.2

Can Nintendo survive without making mobile games?

When I made the prediction3 that Nintendo would not enter the mobile games market, I based that on three premises.

  1. Nintendo can make a healthy profit selling first-party titles for its own consoles.
  2. There is no market for the kinds of games Nintendo makes (high-quality games sold at high prices) on the iOS App Store.
  3. Dedicating resources to App Store development is an opportunity cost for Nintendo. It makes more sense to develop Pikmin 3 for the Wii U and sell a million copies at 60 bucks, than to dedicate those resources towards developing a Pikmin game for the iPhone, sell it for 6 bucks, and hope that they’ll sell ten million copies.

I think those premises are correct. Nintendo is now back to being consistently profitable, without mobile games. There is still not a huge market for paid high-quality games on iOS. And the Wii U’s installed base is now large enough that Nintendo can consistently sell around a million copies of their own first-party titles, with some outliers like Splatoon or Super Mario Maker selling substantially more.

What I did not consider (apart from the Pokémon franchise) is that Nintendo could simply opt to develop cheap or free-to-play games for iOS (the kinds of games that can do well on iOS), and outsource part of the effort to a third-party. I don’t know if that’s what people were expecting when they were asking for Nintendo to make mobile games, and it’s probably not what they were hoping for, but it seems to be what we’re getting.

Conclusion

There’s still a console market. Mobile devices didn’t kill it. Nintendo can be profitable on its own platforms, but that hasn’t kept them from also starting to work on mobile titles. Unfortunately, we probably still won’t see a «real» Nintendo title — a full Mario Kart or New Super Mario Bros title, for example — on iOS anytime soon.


  1. And given that Apple seems to be making tentative steps towards entering that marketback

  2. I think the whole premise on which Asymco’s prediction is based — dedicated-purpose solutions being absorbed into general-purpose platforms — is not true for home computing. It’s true for things we carry with us, because space matters, but space doesn’t matter that much at home. Convenience and usability matters. We’d all rather have a great camera with us, instead of using our phones, but we don’t, because great cameras are big, and we don’t want to carry more stuff with us than we need. Also in that category: wrist watches, notepads, video cameras, etc.
    At home, we do have the luxury of being able to use devices that are specifically made for their tasks. As mobile platforms have made small, high-performance computing devices extremely cheap, we will have more and more dedicated-purpose computers in our homes.
    In other words, playing games on consoles is extremely convenient and cheap. If you like playing games, why would you not pay a few hundred bucks for an experience that is much better, and much more convenient, than anything you can have on your phone? back

  3. I was wrongback

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