I’ve recently read a very interesting article about how iOS and Android OS are gaining market share in the portable gaming department, which got me thinking: who is actually buying portable consoles? And most importantly, are portable consoles ready to face the smartphones’ invasion of the mobile games market? Well, it’s very hard to tell at this point but here are my reflections about a phenomenon that will surely change how we play games while on the go.
Why are smartphones cutting the portable consoles’ market share?
This is the key question, of course. The one that can clarify the present and future of portable gaming. Although I don’t have a crystal ball, I certainly have my theories. First of all, why everybody wants a smartphone? It is because of fashion or some sort of infectious trend? I don’t think so. The fact is that these mobile devices are capable of doing many activities, such as phone calling, document creation, web browsing, image and video edition, music listening and, oh yes, gaming. Smartphones can be seen as small-sized notebooks that are matching their capabilities with desktop computers.
What do portable consoles have to offer against this? A very limited set of features, I must say. Although many would argue that portable consoles are all about gaming and that all other things are secondary, that obvious affirmation won’t lead us away from the truth: people are looking to get more for their money and smartphones are giving them just that. If you add to this reality that some titles for the portable consoles are ridiculously pricy and that some of them are already available in mobile operating systems (such as Final Fantasy III), then you begin to see why portable consoles’ market share is declining.
Quality of the games: after all, is all about the titles
But what is more important about this (apart from physic controls against touchscreens, high price tags against average ones, more features for the same price) is the quality of the games. Gamers will adapt to new consoles and new ways of gaming but if they titles are weak, then the platform for which they are intended is doomed.
Let’s think about this: when was the last huge revolution you’ve seen on Nintendo or Sony portable consoles? Pokemon comes to mind… and that was several years ago. Which titles developed for portable consoles can match Angry Birds sales and number of players? I mean, the latest mobile games that had a cultural impact (which means you can possibly see your granny playing them) are all coming for smartphones, there’s no discussion here. So, it’s understandable why many players are picking those mobile devices instead of specialized gaming platforms.
I know the debate won’t end here: in fact, I hope this is only the start. I do expect a comeback attempt from the two major portable consoles developers (Nintendo and Sony). Of course, the only way to achieve it is to come up with a very innovative concept that makes people believe they’re spending their money in something that’s worth it. But, as for now, portable console aren’t offering that special something and players are starting to lose interest. What do you think?
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