Quick, tell me the name of few handheld gaming devices. What comes to your mind? PSP Vita, Nintendo DS, PSP Go! No?
Let me take a wild guess, your mobile phone? Yes! And that is what I wish to talk about today.
I was just browsing through Flipkart searching for games for my PS3 when I accidently chose a game that in actuality was for PSP Vita. The game was a similar title and must have been launched for PSP Vita along with the PS3 version or maybe separately. As I already was in the handheld area I decided to look around a bit.
PSP Vita is priced nearly Rs. 20K right now, PSP Go is around Rs. 7K. Nintendo is comparatively cheaper with Nintendo DS being around 6K Rs. and 3DS around 15K Rs. For this price you get nearly 5 inch of screen estate in which you can play some very good quality games.
If anyone remembers the hand held devices of old times which where black and white, consisting of just pixels and completely basic game play and sell like hot cakes. Good times, at least for the hand held gaming devices.
Unlike today, there was no option for hand held gaming in those times and gaming has not lost its sheen in years I must say. In fact, in all probability it might have increased with the advent of casual gamer. Despite that, the future of hand held gaming looks bleak at best for these consoles to me.
The reason you ask?
It’s the same dude that has been bullying the alarm clocks, watches, sticky notes and what not – The Mobile phone.
When iPhone launched, it opened the possibility of gaming in new ways. But, let me go back a bit more. Do you know which is the most played game ever in the world – Snake. That innocent game that is found on almost every Nokia set is played by millions and is highly addictive.
That is where the dawn of casual gamer begins – with a simple game, played during small lunch breaks or during commuting. The three things that saved handheld gaming consoles then were –
- The price of mobiles was comparatively higher.
- The games were still predominately played by kids.
- The graphic quality of hand held game was much superior.
The first is pretty obvious. The price of mobile phones was pretty high initially and thus buying a phone with gaming in mind was not just useless but downright prohibitive thought.
The price of mobiles reduced definitely, but more than that the price of these consoles increased drastically. PSP Vita is costlier that any phone Micromax has made and it is one of the largest mobile companies in India.
The second point may need some explanation. Gaming is still a kid’s thing, but now the kids themselves get mobile at such a young age that they can already shift to mobile gaming instead of buying a handheld console.
As the price is same, parents now prefer giving their children a phone. I got my first phone at 18, my cousin at 12. Thus, the need of handheld console seems redundant.
With iOS and Android and the way phones are leaping towards Quad-core, gaming has gone hard core in mobile industry. At Rs. 20K is PSP Vita and at Rs. 28K is Xperia S which is Playstation certified phone. It means that it will run the PSP games.
What will anyone buy in this scenario? I know my answer.
Also, add to this the fact that handheld devices barely make profits as they try to reap the benefits from games that sell and soon companies might not feel it economically viable to keep making them.
Developers are already flocking towards the mobile industry and companies are feeling the heat already. Gaming industry is blooming, but original pure-play handheld gaming, not so much.
Would love to hear your thoughts on this…