In the last few years, we’ve seen an unprecedented push towards mobile gaming away from mobile gaming. Of course, we’re talking about the move from true portable consoles like the PlayStation Vita and Nintendo 3DS towards other mobile platforms. Sony is even attempting to bridge the gap between the two with its PlayStation Mobile suite. But we still think there is a ton of merit in handheld consoles specifically designed for gaming, even if we don’t see their lives being more than another generation long.
The experiences on the Vita and 3DS are far and above experiences on all-in-one devices because there is nothing in the way of the gaming. Sure, handheld gaming platforms are also becoming multifunctional, adding software like web browsers and chat clients, but they aren’t always there.
The PlayStation Vita is worlds ahead of any cell phone on the market right now in terms of visual fidelity as well as power under the hood. The device is huge, mostly to accommodate it’s behemoth screen, but it gets rid of the notifications, phone calls, styluses, and other bloated software to focus on one thing: gaming.
The Nintendo 3DS is in a very similar situation. It is the only truly glasses-free 3D gaming-centric portable, soon to be available in two flavours (standard and XL models, of course), and is home to classic titles like The Legend of Zelda and every Mario title under the sun.
We’re true gamers, and while we know we’re a dying breed as kids grow up with super-powerful cell phones that have some admittedly great games on them, we will forever remain gamers. But there are experiences on consoles like the Vita and 3DS that you will just never have on an all-in-one device.
Sure, there is a ton of money to be made on these games, but they just aren’t the same. They’re not as well crafted or designed or even loved as games that are designed to be put on gaming-specific platforms. They’re throwaway titles that are forgotten in a few days or weeks, not played and loved the world over like the Zeldas and the Marios that have indeed withstood the test of time.
We’re sad to say that the proliferation of all-in-one devices (cell phones, really) will eventually win out, as handheld games don’t get any cheaper and the art of truly mesmerizing handheld games falls by the wayside. It saddens us, really, to think that these incredible pieces of art will no longer be crafted. Perhaps we’re getting ahead of ourselves, but it really will be a different world we live in when portable gaming is relegated to what you can fit on a device that wasn’t designed with gaming in mind.
Then of course, you have to think about what would come of Nintendo or Sony if they were only making home consoles. Surely they would see a market out there for handheld gaming that is still alive, even if not in the same sense. You better believe that each handheld company has a strategy and they’re in the midst of figuring out just what they’ll do should handheld gaming suddenly die off the way people are calling for.