Inafune envisions a future where portable gaming consoles and Smartphones coexist

When Nintendo president Satoru Iwata delivered the keynote back in March at this year's Game Developer's Conference in San Francisco, he spoke of the "commoditization" of gaming, and the resultant devaluing of games. But given his position as head of a company leading the charge in the dedicated gaming portable market, it was difficult to see past his highly vested interests in this stance. To put it more bluntly, Iwata is a man who relies on people buying his portable console's games for $30 to $40, and thusly his ideas on the subject are tainted by his own vested interests.

But when Mega Man co-creator and ex-Capcom head of production Keiji Inafune feels similarly, we can't help but take note. I asked him during an interview this week at the Tokyo Game Show how he felt about Mr. Iwata's keynote, and if the Nintendo 3DS -- as well as the PlayStation Vita -- stand a chance against the rise of the Smartphone.

"I think it's very similar between cell phone cameras and professional digital cameras [DSLRs]. You don't use a Smartphone camera for an interview, and you don't use a really professional camera to take some small pictures when you're going to work," he told me, drawing a comparison between the DSLR my colleague was holding and the iPhone 4 I was recording the interview with. "I think that's the same thing that happens with game consoles as well," he continued. "If you want to play a good game, you get a PS3 or Xbox or that kind of thing. You don't stay on your iPhone or on a Smartphone game for three or five hours, nobody would do that. So I think the needs difference is happening here."

Inafune argued that, comparatively, the dedicated gaming portables -- not to mention the home consoles -- offer a more complete experience, albeit not one suited for all environments. "In one sense, the Smartphone games are more flexible. Say you're waiting for a train and you have spare time, you can play a game, and you can actually finish that game in time," he noted. "But if people have more time, I think people will still play a good game on PS3 or Vita or something like that."

That said, he believes that game devs can't simply ignore the burgeoning Smartphone market. "We have to think about that when we're making new games, because it's kind of becoming very easy to let people play games now. They don't have to buy big consoles to play simple games. So that's what we should think about for the future."

Keiji Inafune has started two companies since leaving Capcom (Intercept and Comcept), though he's only announced games for Smartphones thus far. He did tell me during our interview, however, that the next major retail game from one of his studios -- likely Intercept, the more game dev-focused of the two -- will debut shortly.