LFTE: The Future Is Ringing, Will Someone Please Pick Up (Nov 10) - GIAndy Blog - www.GameInformer.com
Switch Lights

The lights are on

LFTE: The Future Is Ringing, Will Someone Please Pick Up (Nov 10)

Everyone came out of E3 shot-out-of-a-rocket amazed at the Nintendo 3DS. The fact that you didn't have to wear 3D glasses overcame the biggest obstacle facing the born-again technology, and the list of partners supporting Nintendo's new platform is a who's who list of talent. Though the tech is impressive, I have to wonder how Nintendo will maintain its handheld market share without built-in mobile phone capabilities.

Apple and every other mobile phone company on the planet is targeting handheld gaming, and the argument that there is only so much pocket space for mobile devices calls into question the draw of gadgets that only handle one aspect of mobile computing, even if they do that one thing extremely well. Handheld sales have continued to decrease over the past year, but the Nintendo camp isn't panicking. With the power of mobile phones continuing to increase, however, you have to wonder where the tipping point is. When will convenience outweigh what gamers perceive as "true" gaming?

Since the debut of the poorly designed N-Gage, I have said that a single device is the future of handheld gaming. It's just a question of who will create the silver bullet that will change the handheld market forever. Some believe that device already exists with the iPhone. While it may be the closest device on the market to demonstrating the future of mobile gaming, I don't think it's there yet. I know some mobile phone lover is going to tell me mobile phone gaming is already on par with handheld devices, but that is simply not the case. Angry Birds, Solipskier, and Doodle Jump are all amazing games, but pale in comparison to the richer experiences games like Chrono Trigger or Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story offer. Mobile phones tend to lean towards quick in-and-out experiences, whereas the dedicated handheld devices offer longer, more involved sessions.

I travel with my DS, iPhone, and PSP, but if Nintendo or Sony teamed up with a mobile manufacturer to create a device that handled smart phone duties and delivered games at the level I expect from handheld gaming devices, I would ditch my collection of gadgets and jump on board in an instant. If they want to protect their place in mobile gaming, these companies need to embrace the future and start including smart phone capabilities in their handhelds as well.

I can't wait to play the 3DS, but I get the sinking feeling that it will only pacify us until this inevitable innovation happens. If Sony and Nintendo don't build the one device to rule the pocket of gamers everywhere, someone else will.



Email the author , or follow on , , , and .

  • Maybe they can make a hand held device with a camera on it so its like a Kinect. But you can have it on the go!
  • Yeah I could definitely see Sony's PSP eventually merging with a smart phone, as Sony has been in the phone manufacturing business for longer than it's been in either home or handheld gaming.

    The path for Nintendo to go from handheld gaming to "mobile gaming" seems a little less clear, but Nintendo probably wouldn't have a hard time finding a partner if it decided to go mobile (and if Sony did so, it might make finding a partner a simple matter of Nintendo saying yes to the best offer it got from Sony's competition in cellular).

    However, I must admit I'm more a fan of the aps route than the 30$ a pop even for shovelware route you get with the DS or PSP. It's hard to feel to burnt over spending 1$ on the same Dinner Dash ripoff that costs 25$ on DS. I think if they adopted a model similar to Apple's app store, Nintendo could still charge a premium for it's products, while the market wouldn't support the shovelware crap if it tried to sell beyond the 1-3$ range.

    I'm not interested in any handheld machine with the current price point for games as Nintendo's and Sony's handhelds. The argument about Angry Birds vs Chrono Trigger falls on deaf ears in this case: I don't have the patience or opportunity to play any handheld for the length of time it takes to complete games the same length as seen on consoles. I won't sit in my living room playing DS (or whatever) instead of PS3 or 360, iPod's 5 minutes at a time gaming is about all I need or want in a handheld, and I think there's a large part of the supposed market for handhelds that feels the same. Any machine that overlooks these people just looking for small kernels of entertainment from a handheld, at reasonable price reflective of the brief nature of the apps being sought, won't be "the one handheld to rule them all," not even if Sony and Nintendo teamed up with Motorola.

    I'm not sure that I'd agree with the read that the "handheld gaming" market and the "mobile gaming" market are really the same, I think they have overlap, but mostly exist parallel to one another- a fact which I think is evidenced by your own bag full of electronics. Furthermore, while I think you could get gamers behind a gamer's smart phone, I'm not sure you could get a large portion of the people that iPhone counts as customers behind the same gamer's phone. Dabblers don't need real gaming on their phone, and neither do a lot of busy gamers who spend their vital gaming time and money gamng on a pc/console.
  • I'm torn on this subject. When I was first exposed to the idea of the PSP2 I was interested. Then I read that rumors were out about it being a smart phone hybrid. I scoffed inside myself as no one in my office gives a carp about hand held gaming or any gaming for that matter and it would make me look like a tool. That's a subject for a different rant though. I think my aversion to this path is among other things cost. Not initial cost but the service contract on a smart phone is insane these days. You're looking at $100 a month just to have service with a smart phone. While some of the features are value added the ongoing cost simply puts me out of the market. There are those who will roll right into it because they are already paying, but I refuse.

    There was a time, however, that I was against cameras being in phones. I adjusted to that and now couldn't live without it or the music player in the phone as crappy as it is. I do like to consolidate electronics; GPS, MP3, phone, camera. But forcing me to purchase a smart phone to play PS games will not fly with me now. I have made the switch to digital (I have a PSP-3000 but use Memory sticks and download almost exclusively) It's more convenient and there is a lot less noise coming from my device.

    Also, the type of phone that it will be (CDMA, GSM, etc) determines which service provider will have it, and insomuch the reception you will receive. Plus some service providers actually like to test devices on their network for a long time before releasing them. Unless they are doing this now, and I've heard nothing of it. It would be a long time before it would be ready. There is A LOT of risk in any phone but put something like this into a phone that could possibly not work because of firmware issues (Sony has no problems with updates though but providers usually like to modify the firmware) and you end up with an expensive turd. I think the risk will far outweigh the rewards on something like this. Unless Sony comes out with mobile service by purchasing user agreements to use the towers of one of the big three and prolly at least one or two of the slightly less big six the way boost or Virgin do with a reduced price for service. I don't see it happening. There's an Idea revolutionize the Cellular business too! Go for it Sony I'm on board with that.

    While I'm not shutting the door now I think this would be a MUCH larger leap than the GO was and we saw how that preformed.
  • sigh, i don't understand people that would like a handheld phone-console mix. Who cares about iPhone? Touch screen controls are terrible for gaming, and a handheld console should be just that. A game console. If you want a phone go out and buy yourself one. Screw the hybrids.

  • I wouldn't mind having a single device for portable gaming. Hell, it sounds good on paper. But I'm already so worried about getting even a single scratch on the screen of any mobile device I have, that I couldn't fathom having a single touch screen device for all gaming and phone usage. The first time I scratched my DS touch screen, it bothered me for weeks. Even to the point that it distracted me from the game I was playing (Dawn of Sorrow). I would literally pause the game and angle the DS so that the scratch was clearly visible and just stare at it in disappointment. When I got the DS lite, Phantom hourglass and Ninja Gaiden were the cause of multiple scratches. I guess until I get over my scratch anxiety, I just can't get on board with the idea of one device for everything. Because let's face it, whatever device they come up with will inevitably have a touch screen. Also I don't care for screen protectors.
  • Andy, your words remind me of a prophecy I heard about long ago.

    The Handheld of Power, forged in the fires of Mount Doom. The One Device, created by the Dark Lord during the Second Age to gain dominion over the convenience of Middle America.
  • I was totally thinking this same thing the other day when I listened to your last podcast. I really can't see Nintendo taking such a huge leap. They tend to stick to their guns. I also can't see Sony teaming up either. They have the technology on both fronts, they won't ask for help even though no one is playing the PSP. I honestly think the iPhone will be the future of handheld gaming. This really saddens me because the 3DS has so much potential.

    I was just thinking though that maybe we're too quick to declare doom. The 3DS will be capable of allowing gamers to take huge experiences in their pocket, experiences that they haven't been able to take on such a scale before. I mean, who doesn't want to have the ability to carry around Ocarina of Time in their pocket? I'm sure this will only be a temporary advantage that the 3DS will have over the iPhone but maybe it'll give them enough time to gain some steam.
  • ugh. 3D.

  • Im usually a person who sneers at quick comments when compared to well thought out arguments, BUT

    If I ever hear rumors that Nintendo is holding talks with Verizon, I'm buying stock in both companies.

    edited for spelling
  • I first bought the iphone with the intent to make it my handheld gaming device; I found the controls too confined on the screen for my big gorilla hands, the battery did not last long enough for prolonged play specially when I'm traveling, and the games were just not on par with other gaming systems. I would rather travel with my phone in my pocket along with my handheld gaming device than having some monstrosity of a smart phone/mobile gaming device hybrid in my pocket.
  • I really hope mobile gaming (or social network gaming, for that matter) doesn't take the place of hand held consoles. While some cell phone games are cute and fun and addicting and consume massive amounts of time, they can never measure up to the quality that the PSP or Nintendo DS can handle. Even if it were more convenient to have one device to carry around instead of two or three, I'd rather have my hands full then rely on one device that makes calls, utilizes the internet, and plays games all at once. My concern is that these devices wont have enough capacity to hold so much information, or that it'll run extremely slow.

    Please please please Mr. Future, dont let this happen. Keep making those kick ass products Nintendo!!

  • The hand consoles and the Phones are two deferent things and no body should try to mix them up because that would screw the gaming experience.

  • It would be nice to have a mash up of my mobile tech.

  • I don't know. A part of me thinks it's kind of cool but the other part of me that hates having everything in one device is wary. Don't get me wrong I love the camera, internet, flash games, basic microsoft office stuff and all that on my phone. however I refuse to use a mp3 player on my phone even if I switched providers and got an iphone I would still use my ipod just because I like to keep those things separate. The same goes for my hand held devices, though I don't carry my psp around everywhere I go I still play it a fair bit and would not want to interrupt and minimize my game because I got a phone call or text message.

    I found many that I know feel the same way but I might be willing to go with an idea of a real hand held and a phone put together if the battery power was sufficient. Most phones now have good battery life unless you are running apps on it all day now imagine full hand held games. You are right though, it probably will happen and some company is going to be richer than all get out.

  • You mentioned Sony and Nintendo but not Microsoft, the third main player in video games - is there a reason for that omission? I ask because Microsoft has tried to do just this - combine a modern smartphone and a handheld gaming device into one.

    The Windows Phone 7 devices look sweet - they have Xbox Live integration, including games you can purchase on the phone that have their own achievements and you can track your friends, respond to requests, mess with your avatar and so on. Some of the games look pretty good too, to me.

    So - honest question - was there a reason why they weren't mentioned (particularly in this month's issue which actually coincides with the launch of the Windows Phone 7)?

  • Hang in there Nintendo. I don't want to see a stupid phone take over mobile gaming, that is total bull****. These freakin phones are taking over peoples lives it's just ridiculous. My phone is a normal flip open phone that is two years old and do you know what it can do... it can MAKE AND RECEIVE CALLS! And that is all that a phone should do. When I saw Wall-E I laughed when you first got to see the chubby lazy humans that would speak to each other through monitors even though they were standing right next to each other. I thought yeah right! Flash forward a couple of years and this same scenario is already happening. PUT YOUR PHONES DOWN for five frapping minutes and look someone in the face. Why the hell would you type to someone with a device that can also miraculously allow your voice to be carried to said person?! If texting was what Alexander Graham Bell had in mind he would have gone into the typewriter business!