Games on phones and tablets are huge right now. There are so many games that get released everyday on app stores and these games usually cost only a dollar. Some of the mobile games offer compelling experiences while others are merely distractions. These inexpensive, mobile games are what is thought to be the cause of lackluster handheld console sales. This begs the question, are handheld gaming consoles going to be replaced by mobile devices?
I play video games for a number of reasons. I love amazing graphics and at times the stories, but above all else, I cherish gameplay. Gameplay is what sets video games apart from movies, books, and phone and tablet games. Currently, the best way to interact with a mobile game is to touch the screen. This is a very intuitive way to interact with a game although it only lends itself to certain genres like point-and-click adventures. Even though mobile games offer easy to use controls, it doesn’t offer enough in terms of story and especially gameplay for many people, mainly the enthusiast market who want deep and compelling experiences not just distractions. This is not to say that deep experiences do not exist, they only exist with touch interface as the way to interact with the game.
There have been attempts by Android and iOS accessory manufacturers to develop controllers for both operating systems. The iCade is a great example of a controller made for iOS. The problem is mobile game developers do not develop games that can take advantage of the controller. They know that most people will not purchase such a controller and if they did, they probably aren’t going to carry it around with them to play games. Since touch is likely the only way that people are going to interact with these games, it allows handhelds to still be relevant in the marketplace. Sure, they probably will not sell like they used to but there is a market for these devices. I think the Ouya could be the last attempt to make a hardcore mobile gaming console, at least for a while. From what I have heard so far, I don’t think its going to be relevant for anyone.
I play my 3DS literally every day. The games on dedicated handhelds are just better suited to a video game player like me. I need more depth to my games in terms of story and gameplay. Sure, some mobile games are better suited for a touch interface than the Vita or 3DS but the same is true in the other direction. Just use virtual controls and you’ll see what I mean. I used to think that mobile games could replace handheld games but I really don’t think that is ever going to happen, at least not anytime soon. Controllers need to be supported by mobile devices before this is even possible. Even though we have tablets, people still buy dedicated eReaders and people will continue to buy dedicated handheld consoles.