Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Where Modern Gaming is Going

Everyone thinks they have an idea of just where modern gaming is going.  Console manufactures will insist that the stationary home console is not dying.  You have developers looking at mobile gaming as the next evolutionary step.  You have consumers torn between the two.  Critics and journalists view the trends with an analytical eye giving the pros and cons of the two formats.  However, are we coming closer to a point when the two will converge?

Before I go to far into this, I want to differentiate console gaming and PC gaming.  PC gaming is a format that does nto appear to be going anywhere, and will remain strong due to the particulars that come from dedicated PC gaming.  I wish to discuss console gaming to mobile gaming.

Ever since gaming went mainstream in the late seventies, there has been mobile gaming.  Mobile gaming from the late 70s to the early 90s, however was always shallow in comparison to the experience one got when gaming on a console.  In the late 70s, mobile gaming was accomplished with stationary red lights on a bland "environment".  Then in the 80s, we were exposed to much more advanced LCD games.  As advanced as it may have been, it still didn't capture the games they were based upon very well.  LCD screens used images that were activated by an electric current to create activity.  The depth of the gaes were limited, and restrictive.  In the latter part of the 80s, handheld systems that displayed a comparible experience as the consoles finally hit the market, but they still had a ways to go in regards to depth and challenge.  When the 90s rolled around, technology became cheaper to allow the development of better displays, the addition of color, and deeper game play that was on par with most consoles. During the 00s, we got handheld games on dedicated devices that really were just as good as the consoles.  Now, here in the 10s, we have the PS Vita and 3DS, each providing graphics and game play that is as good as the current generation of consoles.

However, these two devices aren't want people view as Mobile Gaming these days.  Mobile gaming is cell phones.  iPhone and Android devices are proving to give users console quality games significantly cheaper, and ultra portable.  There is no hard media to store and carry around.  There is no issue of whether or not your friends have the same device to play multiplayer games with.  And with the release of devices like the Ouya, we can play our games at home, on the big screen TV, then back up our save to the cloud so we can continue playing on the go.

Nintendo just recently announced the merger of the console and handheld divisions to form one department.  With the look of the Wii U, is it possible that the next Nintendo console will double as a home console, and a portable device?  Sony has been trying to push the linking service where you can link the PSP/Vita with the PS3 for a while now, and with the capabilities of the Vita, and mobile data speeds, it could very well work.  However, these companies are now competing with phones and tablets that give the consumers greater range, and control.  Platforms that are far less restrictive compared to the closed ecosystems of Xbox Live, and PS Network.

Game developers have gone on record with their predictions that modern console gaming is going to last no more than 10 more years, at best.  Consumers are also showing the "proof in the pudding" here.  They spend more on games for their phones and tablets than they do on their consoles.  Understandably so, as well.  Considering you can get Modern Combat 4 for $6.99 on the Android platform versus Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 for $59.99 on PS3/Xbox 360.  Both offer great first person shooting action.  Both offer online game play in multiplayer environments.  However, one is $53 cheaper, and can go with them anywhere.  All on a device that can also make calls, surf the social media, and allow them to watch virtually any video without much issue.

I have to agree that gaming is going mobile more and more.

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