Friday, August 19, 2011

Is Mobile Gaming Taking Over?

When one talked about mobile gaming, they usually meant the playing games on their PSP, DS, Game Boy Advance, etc.  Today, mobile gaming takes on a new meaning.  Smartphones and Tablets have changed the way we do a lot of things, including gaming.  We love being able to consolidate our technological loves into a single device.  We want our social interaction, internet, music and games all in one place.  Android and iOS have brought on that change so much so that the 3DS is already reeling, and was forced into a significant price drop after only months from its release.  The PSP Vita is already being pressured into being released at a lower price from the $299 price tag it is being touted at.

But is gaming on our Android and iOS powered devices worth it?  Hell yeah!  There are numerous titles being released on the platforms that are amazingly fun, addictive, and even social.  These games have the same depth as most dedicated handheld titles, and also provide similar, if not better, graphics.

Social Gaming.

Since Xbox 360 and PS3 have been released, achievements have been the driving force for a lot of gamers.  Achievements provide the bragging rights of what you have accomplished in your games.  Social games on Facebook and Google+ have also taken this into account to foster friendly competition, and cooperation amongst gamers.  Games on Android and iOS follow suit with providing gamers the ability to share their achievements through OpenFient, Facebook, Twitter, and even HeyZap.  You get badges and bonus’s for what you accomplish, giving you a richer experience.

So what about dedicated handhelds like the PSP line, and the DS line?  These devices need to adapt to the changing environment.  Sony has already experimented with the Xperia Play.  Nintendo has been openly defiant to the change and continues with the system that used to work for them.

Should Sony completely drop the standard PSP line and go with something like the Xperia Play from this point forward?  If so, would the developers of many of their top games follow suit?  I personally believe that Sony should.  The Android platform is a relatively easy platform to develop for.  The method of pushing out games has been proven to work.  Nintendo is going to be the one that will be tough to convert, however.  They loose marketing and licensing rights by switching to such a platform.  It also means they won’t be able to maintain a locked ecosystem for their games and system.  Nintendo gains a majority of their profits on the DS line from licensing fee’s, not on the sales of the console itself.

The loss of controlling the locked ecosystem, and gaining profits from the licensing fee’s is where Nintendo is defiant about allowing to happen.  Nintendo knows where its bread and butter is.  If Nintendo did this, they would be better off becoming a software company for the handheld market, and retaining the dedicated home console division as it is.  Nintendo doesn’t see this as a winning solution for long term longevity obviously.  Sony, this is a company that has learned to adapt for years.  They could easily do so by making more than enough money off of the smartphones than off of a licensing structure.

With all of that, I see dedicated handhelds dying off.  Nintendo will be the last real company that will try to maintain such devices, where everyone else eagerly and happily goes with the smartphone market.  Microsoft has Windows Phone with Xbox Live Market.  Sony is on with Android and producing their own PlayStation type market.  Apple was smart with creating an excellent gaming specific market for the iOS platform.  Nintendo, they don’t have the ability to jump on to the bandwagon, and the only option they have is creating some sort of distribution market for iOS, Android and WP7.

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