Is This Town Big Enough For Both Of You?

Mark Stephens

We hear a LOT of chatter about how gaming on our mobile handsets is going to replace handheld gaming entirely, but is the sound of the death knell for consoles a bit premature?

After all, Sony don’t think that’s the case, as they get ready to launch their Vita portable PlayStation later this year.

Sony and Nintendo – Please Meet iPhone and Android

A few years back, the choice for gaming on the go was pretty much Sony’s PSP or Nintendo’s DS, but we have increasingly seen the emergence of games specifically designed to be played on mobile handsets like the iPhone and Android, as well as on tablet devices.

The question is – can the market support both? Is there enough demand for both to flourish?

Important Questions

Opinions out there vary, but some of the keys to answering that question seem to be whether the two experiences are essentially the same, or whether they are pressing very different gaming buttons for users.

If they are pressing different buttons, are they significantly different enough to support both experiences? Or will people substitute the handheld console for the phone, even if the gaming experience is not as good?

Does the convenience of one device make up for the sacrifice in quality? Will the quality of gaming improve sufficiently to create the same gaming experience?

All these teasers will decide which way things go – meanwhile there is plenty of room for discussion and conjecture and most people are not short of an opinion or two.

May Battle Commence

mobileNintendo’s president has fired broadsides at iPhone and Android game developers in the past, accusing them of downgrading the quality of gaming, and developers have fired shots back saying that they make games that are cheap, popular and social.

Evidently it’s a topic on many people’s lips and there seems to be two clear corners developing in the boxing ring, each with some heavy-hitters on their side – but are they fighting for two different things?

Kids and Adult Gaming

There’s no doubt that there is some cross-over between the two types of gaming but it seems that they are different enough at present to support two different markets.

Can you really see kids who love Mario or Pokemon throwing their hand-held away and playing Doodle Jump or Angry Birds? They may play both, when they can wrestle the phone off their mum or dad, but the hand-held console is all theirs and they love the complexities and better graphics of gaming on it at present.

We are essentially talking about children right now with hand-held consoles and adults with gaming on phones – though this is a generalisation and, again, the lines are becoming more and more blurred.

The Game Changers

As smartphones reach more and more kids in the future then the options may change.

Also, as more complex games are developed for mobile handsets the cross-over between the two areas will grow. Right now gaming on an iPhone or Android is seen largely as a time-filler and a fun distraction by many, rather than a serious gaming experience.

That’s why the apps and games can only command low fees from users. Many users aren’t that serious that they would pay the $30 to $60 that hand-held console games command.

This scenario will change as the graphics and functionality of mobile handset games improves. If the mobile phone app and game market starts to attract core gamers with this increased quality, then the game changes entirely. And perhaps iPads and other tablets will be game-changers too, though at present they could be classed as something of a fad.

Until then, everybody needs to calm the heck down, take a breath, pour a drink and understand that this town IS probably big enough for both of you!