Dedicated Handhelds Will Not Die!

PS Vita Ramblings Sony Nintendo News iPad iPhone 3DS

I need to get something off my chest. This should be read by all of the developers who believe that dedicated handhelds have met their end and the future of portable gaming lies solely with tablets and smartphones, or more specifically, the Apple range of tablets and smartphones. To those naysayers, I have four words for you: You have it wrong.

Crytek Managing Director Cervat Yerli has really stirred me up through comments made on GamesIndustry.biz. In short, this is what he had to say:

“While it’s a nice achievement from Sony in the first step, it’s not something we would take into consideration in the short term.”

“I can see that the multifunctions that devices like tablets offer is a big advantage of them. And I think people want one mobile device that can do multiple things.”

“Considering this, I think those handhelds are lacking in that area and they are losing ground, actually. I think they have to be more innovative.”

This seems to be the general consensus with handheld development as of late. Because of the move towards smartphones and tablets, game developers want a piece of the market. I have no issue against that. In fact, there are possibilities with that corner of development. However, I am sick of developers who haven’t touch a dedicated handheld, let alone develop one; proclaim doomsday on a section of the market because everyone jumps onto the Apple bandwagon.

I am studying game design at university and from what I have learnt is that the player is not your enemy/opponent because they are the one who will buy the games. The players in this instance are the ones who are constantly playing the latest blockbusters, reading the magazines or searching online for the latest news. Granted that type of gamer might also enjoy the iPhone or iPad game, but my point is that dedicated gamers won’t jump to the site if a $2 game. For one, there are no physical controls on the tablets and smartphones. That is the most common complaint with gaming on tablets and smartphones.

The handhelds deliver something more than a game. They deliver an experience that can not compare to something on the iPhone. They can create console-like experiences and we can take them on the go.

I’ll talk about the Playstation Vita since it is the example Yerli used. Now, the reason he thinks the handhelds are “losing ground” is because of a lack of multifunctions. Umm… he hasn’t been watching Sony since the announcement earlier this year. Let see what the Playstation Vita sports outside of games:

• Photo capabilities, including taking them and video recording
• Music capabilities
• Facebook
• Twitter
• Skype
• Foursquare
• Near
• Party
• Interaction with Playstation 3
• Augmented Reality for non-gaming
• 3G capabilities
• Other unannounced features (if there are anymore, which will be announced)

I think the Vita might be more than a one trick pony. In fact, it seems that Vita is really a miniature tablet with a selection of console-like games.

Then he believes that the handhelds are not “innovative” enough. Okay, he is talking about the Vita, right? I mean all of the big tablets sport rear touchpads, right? They don’t. Well… what about 3D just like the 3DS? Wait, only one? Only one smartphone, the LG Optimus 3D, actually sports the feature. No Apple products implement this, despite re-releasing a model every year with little improvement? What about a dual screen platform which made the DS popular? No. Hmm…

What about cost? I’m not talking about the games but the platforms themselves. Smartphones and tablets have a monthly cost through a network. They can be up to $60/$70 per month for a year or two years. Now, let’s look at the Vita and 3DS. They are a one off cost with no monthly fees (unless you do purchase the Vita with 3G).

Alright I think I need to wrap this up. This is another example of the poor attitude towards the dedicated gaming handhelds. Developers really need to stop this doom and gloom outlook and actually embrace them. I have just debunked comments about the lack of multifunction and innovation. Vita and 3DS are more than just gaming devices and they are introducing new experiences through a second touchpad and the use of stereoscopic 3D respectively. They provide hours of entertainment and are not timewasters to play on the bus or train. Please, before you decide that tablets and smartphones are the future, try and develop for the handhelds. You might actually like it.

Josh is the name, writing is my game... well my degree will say that. But, when uni gets me down (and it does), there is no better way that to grab a chair, sit back and slicing up some Darkspawn I started my gaming interest back in the good old 16 bit era with the Sega Mega Drive and Sonic The Hedgehog 2. I was roughly five years old. To this day I still try to fire up the dusty companion and speed through the wacky and bright levels, jumping on some Badniks, collecting those damn Chaos Emeralds. Then I moved onto Sony's disk based console the Playstation (thanks to my uncle). Since then I have picked up each of Sony's consoles from the 5th to current generation that has been released in Australia (with more to come). In terms of writing about games, I am quite new to the field. I started out late last year with my own blog before deciding to move to greener pastures. I have written a few reviews for the Playstation 3 and Playstation Portable. Features as well. I hope I can flex my muscles while writing with Capsule Computers. If I'm not gaming, however, I'm writing narratives. I am currently trying to kickstart a high fantasy novel (which, hopefully, turns into a complex RPG) that I want done in five years or so. My passion of writing has been there for a long time and has flourished as I grew. I'm into the fantasy genre, both games and novels, and thoroughly enjoy a deep and complex RPG, whether it comes from the East or West. Oh and anime is awesome!
  • Andre Fairchild

    problem is…
    1. the vita hardware, even if its super strong. wont ever grow
    2. the whole shit you have to pay sony if you want to develop game for vita
    3. the game price (compared to mobile games which are goddamn dirt cheap. i swear. i see mobile game price over $10 and people are crying over how expensive it is)
    4. the portability. sadly. mobile is just convenient. cause its your phone that you always carry everywhere. despite the stupid touch system compared to the easier gamepad.
    5. the titles itself, mobile games get new titles almost everyday. (even though most of them are crapware) while we have to wait 3-6 months until we get a good title in portable games, yes. even 3ds.i know some people that quit because they are sick of waiting.
    6. the developers. which is the main reason of vita’s dying status. outside of japan. the developers simply wont take the risk anymore.
    7. money. yes.mobile games generates way more profits than any console games. and lately game development isnt about creating good games anymore. other than select few. its simply about profits.

    i still play vita. and i love it. but developers simply wont develop for handhelds anymore.its high-risk. high fund requirements. and wont yield as much as mobiles. thankfully japanese still loves playing all those japanese games on vita. otherwise it would be dead a long time ago

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