Your Phone Killed the Handheld!

by George Atchison

Someone at work came up to me the other day and asked me a question that got me thinking.  He asked, “Are you picking up the PS Vita”?  I had thought about this before, and contemplated looking at maybe spending a part of my government tax return on this new piece of hardware.  I responded with, “probably not”.  Now let’s go back a little bit, the last hand-held I played pretty hardcore and religiously was the Sega Game Gear.  Man I loved that thing, from Jurassic Park, to Ecco The Dolphin, something about that hand-held made me want to play it all the time.  Then I got to thinking, when did I play it the most?  Road trips, in bed, usually when I was bored tagging along with my mom or dad on their errands.  I bought a PSP a couple of times.  The first time it was picked up from a friend on an impulse buy and I enjoyed playing Lumines, but I really didn’t pick up anything else after that.  After ending up selling it, I really ignored handhelds for a while, even Nintendo’s recent release of the 3DS.  There is just something about a hand-held that does not appeal to me any more.

Being a grown up, in a grown up world, I still don’t always abide by the grown up lifestyle.  A majority of my free time involves playing a lot of video games… a LOT.  One plus of being a responsible adult, I can actually pay for things myself rather than bumming money off my parents to pick up that new game release or piece of hardware.  When looking at the portable electronics I own, I realized something.   I have an android phone with a screen size equal to that of the PSP, and I have a 10 inch tablet.  Why would I want to carry around a dedicated handheld for gaming only when those other devices can play games as well? Sure maybe not the blockbuster titles released specifically on that platform, or having bleeding edge graphics of new handhelds,  but there are some seriously awesome tablet/phone games (no I’m not talking about Angry Birds) out there. Take a quick look at Final Fantasy Tactics on the i-Phone, for example.

Graphics aren’t exactly everything for me in a game, but with it being 2012 I feel that development in game-play, graphics, and sound design are key to successful titles these days and I think a lot of people would tend to agree with me.   If you shell out 60 dollars for a game, you expect it to have all of those qualities and more, would you not?   Hand held gaming is becoming a dying market, with advances in phone/tablet technology people don’t want to spend another $150-$300 for another electronic device to carry around with them.  We don’t live in a world with flip phones and indestructible Nokia’s bundled with Snake to play.  We have fancy touch screen glass with AMOLED screens and RETINA displays.  Sure there is some sort of market for hand-held gaming but expect to see numbers dwindle in the coming years.  Take a look at some of these stats:

  • The average game player is 35 years old and has been playing games for 13 years

35 years old!  Most 35-year-old women or men, are working professionals that probably carry around at least 3 electronic devices with them already, do you honestly think that they want another?

  • Thirty-six percent of heads of households play games on a wireless device, such as a cell phone or PDA, up from 20 percent in 2002.

Expect to see this stat rise even more!  With advances in mobile technology, developers see a HUGE profit margin to be tapped from mobile device users so it’s only natural to start to see amazing titles being released on your phone/tablet/etc.

And last but not least, everyone loves pie, so I included a pie chart showing some really surprising (or maybe not so) statistics.

What do you think?

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