The PocketGamer.biz week that was: iPhone 5 kicks off round 2 of the smartphone wars, and how to market mobile games with no money

The past 7 days in bite-sized portions

The PocketGamer.biz week that was: iPhone 5 kicks off round 2 of the smartphone wars, and how to market mobile games with no money

It's hard to believe just how much the mobile landscape has changed in five years.

Markets have sprung up that simply didn't exist before, and cellular fortunes have been made and lost.

But as OEMs and developers steel themselves for round two of the smartphone wars, it's hard to believe just how much the handheld console market has changed in five years, too.

By September 2006, the DS was hitting its stride. Nintendo had launched its well-received DS Lite hardware revision, third party support for the system was beginning to grow, and sales stood at 25 million globally.

Although the 3DS surpassed the none-too-shabby total of 19 million units recently, it's worth noting that Nintendo has been selling the console at a loss for much of its lifespan – making any comparison to the DS a little misleading.

Sony's first foray into handheld consoles also enjoyed brisk sales, particularly in Japan, where the tremendous appetite for Capcom's Monster Hunter series saw the PSP's popularity soar.

However, the PS Vita took six months to limp to a global sales total of 2.2 million, and Sony's figures for Q1 2012 show its state-of-the-art handheld being outsold more than two to one by the ageing PSP.

But despite all the doom and gloom, there are reasons to be cheerful. The 3DS's early woes were largely due to a death of quality software, a problem that Nintendo has solved almost single-handedly. Meanwhile, 'Cross Buy' gaming and strong third party support offer potential salvation for the Vita. Only time will tell, of course.

After all, a lot can change in five years.

Now, let's jettison sentence-structure and dive right into the wobbly world of bullet points for our bite-sized overview of the last seven days' worth of news.

Platform wars
  • GREE's western acquisition spree continues, as the mobile social network buys Dino Life developer App Ant Studios for an undisclosed sum.
  • Zynga hopes to make a move on 'mid-core' gamers with its acquisition of US developer A Bit Lucky – but there's bad news for the troubled social gaming giant this week too, as its executive exodus continues with the departure of two more senior staff.
  • Apple shakes up user identification in iOS 6, introducing the "non-permanent, non-personal" Advertising Identifier. Interestingly, the system lets users 'limit ad tracking' at will – a potentially serious matter for ad networks.
  • In this week's Charticle, we look at DragonVale's one-year reign over the iOS top grossing charts and Backflip Studios CEO Julian Farrior explains the monetisation strategy that kept it there.
  • Don't blame gamers for free-to-play failures, says Grey Area's Eric Seufert, it's developers that don't understand the model.
Discovery and user acquisition
  • Glitch Games co-founder Graham Ranson explains how his company hopes to promote its next games with a non-existent marketing budget – and how it all could go horribly wrong.
Industry voices
  • In part two of our Mobile Gaming Mavens iPhone special, we ask our industry experts to sum up their initial impressions of the iPhone 5.
  • As Revolution's crowdfunding dreams come true for Broken Sword: The Serpent's Curse, PocketGamer.biz talks to CEO Charles Cecil about publishers, creative free dome and financial risk.
  • After Apple's iPhone 5 unveiling made promises of 'console-style' gaming, editor at large Jon Jordan argues that aping console gaming on mobile is a sure path to a console-style decline.
  • As AppyNation's 'Hall of Infamy' – a catalogue of sites that charge for game reviews – continues to grow, comms manager Andrew Smith argues that money makes it impossible to tell if these sites are impartial or not.
  • Pocket Gamer editor in chief Kristan Reed argues that Nintendo's Wii U has the power to cross the console/mobile divide, but SmartGlass and the Vita can't.
James Nouch
James Nouch
PocketGamer.biz's news editor 2012-2013