Posted November 12, 2012 by Ayat in Opinion

The Future of Handheld Gaming

mobile gaming
mobile gaming

The 8th and current generation of handheld gaming has seen much different trends in choice and demand of gamers than any previous ones. The handheld console wars no longer include only dedicated handheld gaming devices, but also multimedia platforms like the iOS and Android. The 3DS is off to a better start than the DS, but its hardware limitations make its survival questionable, and heavily relying on the sales figures in Japan. The Vita is at its all-time low in terms of sales, having sold only about 5000 units in the last month.

Why is this?
A large portion of handheld gamers of this generation are more casual gamers than hardcore. They want an “on the go” experience that doesn’t require too much time devoted to it. Games on smartphones seem less story-oriented and more gameplay based. That’s why they attract that particular section of gamers – and tempt the fan base of the dedicated handhelds too. Games like Angry Birds keep gameplay simple, casual and quick. The capability of smartphones cannot be undermined. Gameloft showed us how good open world games like Gangstar 3: Miami Vindication, and Backstab can run on smartphones. Gamers weren’t much surprised when the GTA 3 was announced for smartphones, as if the world was prepared for this to happen. NFS: Most Wanted for the iOS and Android can be well compared to the original 2005 title in terms of graphics, gameplay and fluidity. These titles have an arcade feel to them.While waiting for the bus, traveling on one, or just passing the time in between 2 tasks, they are a great way to kill time. Why carry around a phone and a handheld gaming console when I can carry just the phone and have the partial experience of the console too? If I am at home, why bother playing a handheld when I can just turn on the system connected to the big screen? Unless I could afford only the dedicated handheld, there isn’t really much of a good reason why I shouldn’t revert to smart phones.

Will the dedicated handhelds survive?
Some gamers argue that there is something about physical buttons that make handheld gaming feel more natural. But that too is integrated into some of this era’s smartphones. The Vita, with its very impressive hardware, is still struggling. While the 3DS has a good library of titles that attract both the casual and hardcore gamers, the Vita, not having a good library of titles yet, only manages to attract gamers that are already a part of Sony’s fan base.

There is no doubt that the dedicated handheld consoles are losing market share and are declining in popularity. Unless and until new innovations in these systems are made, or titles that release for these systems are made better in quality of gameplay, smartphones will continue to rise in dominance of the industry and traditional handheld gaming will change forever.