Portable Gaming and console gaming, or PC gaming for that matter, have been considered to be very separate segments of the videogame market. The question is why, since portable gaming has become some sort of save haven for certain gamers.
Let’s be honest here: Most gamers love to have their games in HD combined with an elaborate Sound system in order to get them closer to a cinematic experience. I personally have my problems with the word ‘cinematic’ here, because I dislike going to the cinema in order to read a novel, so why would I want to watch a film when I play a videogame, but I get why visual or acoustic quality is important to some. With the same reasoning, a lot of ‘Hardcore’ Gamers, for lack of a better term, dismiss portable gaming as some sort of games for children, unworthy of their attention.
Seeing how the market evolves at this moment, I’d like to disagree with them. Sure, the amount of so called ‘casual’ gamers on the portable platforms is higher, but I’d go ahead and claim that this is mostly due to the pricing. Consider this: No matter how you put it, Console gaming is expensive! You need to buy a console, which at the beginning costs somewhere between 300-600$, while the games normally cost around 60$. Controllers are another price point, as are some subscription-models.
In the portable gaming market however is different, since here it is considered to be a bit excessively expensive when you have to put down 250$ for a Nintendo 3DS. Since you need less money in order to get into that segment, since Handhelds and the games are cheaper than the ‘big’ consoles and their games, it just pulls in more people. There are other reasons though, why portable gaming has become more attractive.
If we take a look at the iPhone or the Android for example, things do get a lot clearer. On this market segment, that often is considered to be separate from the rest of the portable gaming segment, games cost even less or are even free, so there is no barrier here for trying stuff out. Another plus for these platforms is, that smaller studios have less problems publishing games on those platform. Development costs are low and marketing is almost exclusively done via social networking and the like. Sure, the market is cramped and somewhat unregulated, but there are ways to succeed on that platform.
Low development costs are the one thing that will keep those portable platform attractive for all the developers. Don’t want to invest into a full fledged sequel to your mildly successful Playstation 2 game? Well, just do a semi-sequel to it on a portable platform. They are widespread and developing for them isn’t that costly. Just look what some companies have done on the PSP: Atlus republishes pretty much every single Persona game on it, while SquareEnix uses it to continue the Parasite Eve series…
Speaking of JRPGs: If you’re into that genre, there is no way around that segment of videogames. The last 10 good JRPGs I’ve played were all on Handhelds. Japanese developers really seem to love those platforms and they put out a lot of stuff for it. It’s only reasonable, considering the huge install bases in Japan!
My hope for the future is, that more and more people will take portable gaming serious. The good thing is, that the coming generation of Handhelds, spear-headed by the 3DS and followed up later this year with the NGP, will make the graphical gap between Handhelds and consoles seem even smaller. At least when it comes to the Audio-Visual department, I really think that there are less and less reasons for shunning portable gaming. And the games themselves have always been good.
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Article from Gamersyndrome.com