Today as I sit here I have 3 things next to me: my iPhone, my Nintendo 3DS XL, and my Playstation Vita. These are 3 things that go with me just about everywhere. Well, 2 of them. 1 is with me at all times. Whether i’m on a train, a car, at someone’s house, or in the bathroom. Guess which one?
If you said the Vita or the 3DS XL you would obviously be wrong. It’s the iPhone. It goes with me everywhere. It’s an extension of my being, a flawless and unnoticeable connection between me and the world around me. Something that ensures it’s with me everywhere isn’t that it’s a phone, or a music player, or a camera. Most smartphones these days can download games. Not just 5 minute quickies either. I’m talking about full, 8+ hour games. The mobile gaming market has taken a massive leap in the last 5 years with Samsung & Apple’s flagships at the helm. Angry Birds. Infinity Blade 1, 2, and 3. Full on RPGs that can be played on your phone on your tablet. This is mobile gaming now in the most literal sense. Mobile because it goes anywhere, and everywhere with you. Putting games on mobile devices especially cell phones is the greatest mash-up of technology in the last 10 years.
A clear winner in these two fields hasn’t been “selected” nor is on going to come out of it anytime soon. For all those great things that come with sitting on a train for a long commute and playing a game while listening to music oops phone call time, and back to your game and music all on one device in your hand is staggering for people my age opposed to what their was 10 even 15 years ago. Why is mobile gaming not a clear winner you ask? There’s a few reasons behind this.
Experiencing gaming on your phone or tablet looks wonderful. The graphics are top-notch for the environment in which they’re viewed, pop on a pair of headphones and the sounds is just as good. There’s one more element to make the trifecta that mobile gaming doesn’t have: Controls. I HATE touch screen controls for a game. It drives me nuts. All the games I have on my phone are ones that don’t have free roaming moving, only contextual swiping and “button pressing”. A game like Infinity Blade is an experience in itself, but not when you have to swipe a 4 inch screen like a madman to knock down a hulking armored monster blocker your path. Give me my shoulder buttons! Analog sticks! Even just a REAL d-pad!
See what i’m talking about? If you can’t visualize it from my words, ask someone if you don’t have first hand experience. There aren’t many people who will tell you how sparklingly refined using a touch screen to battle demons or zoom in with a sniper rifle are. “Well now,” you say. “Why don’t you stop griping and go buy on of those things you slap your phone into that IS a controller?”. How astute of a question you ask, good sir! I’m not going to spend another 50-100 dollars on an attachment that doesn’t work for every one of the games that it should. A waste of money. If there’s anything out there to make a fast buck off consumers, it’s those “controllers” that you sit your phone or, or inside of. It’s just silly. It transforms a mobile gaming experience into a handheld gaming experience, which is where i’m going next with this.
You can’t topple the handheld market. Look at the quality of the games on the current 2 handhelds systems: 3DS and Vita. The whole DS family regardless of size had balanced weight, 2 well sized screens that have gotten bigger and more refined (even 3-dimensional) along with one of them being a touch screen. There’s your touch interaction right there! And games like Zelda A link Between Two Worlds, a great library of games from the Mario Universe, Pokemon, all utilize both of these screen for a high quality, fluid experience. 3DS and 3DS XL have the potential to go in a pocket, back pocket or cargo pocket, depending on which one you roll with.
Vita is no slouch either. A serious step up from it’s parent the PSP, it’s thinner, lighter, dual analog sticks. It’s close to a Playstation controller with a screen in the middle of it. Speaking of the screen, the fron and back are touch sensitive/capacitive to give some more of that “immersive” experience i’ve mentioned. And games with better sound and graphic quality than the PS2 but not quite the PS3. Hardcore and causal gamer opportunities with both. Plus apps to download just like a phone. The primary difference with these guys against a smartphone? Size, and you cant make calls on them (well, Skype but that’s not a call in the traditional sense). See? It’s becoming more clear now, the things you may not have thought of before, or some things to help you make a decision which way to lean. Do you have to lean either way? Between mobile and handheld. Absolutely not! You don’t have to make a choice. In the beginning I mentioned I have all 3 with me. I have to have every option in front of me since I can’t drag my home consoles everywhere (and with good, obvious reasons).
As time has went by, I like some others, have found myself less tied to the systems in my home and more connected to the ones in my bag, or in my pocket. I was a little upset about it at first, it felt like home consoles were fading as a whole. They aren’t at all and never were, they have just taken a step to the back burner for me right now. It’s fine if something fits your lifestyle don’t be afraid to admit it to yourself or others. I’m always on the move and travel a lot so being a mobile gamer and a handheld one are fine with me. Remember when I said there’s no clear winner? There isn’t, never will be. It’s all about choice.