Handheld Consoles vs Mobile Platforms


Well-Known Member
Mar 26, 2013
There is this concept floating around that the reason for handhelds, from both Nintendo and Sony, are suffering because the mobile market is behaving as a source of competition. I'm actually not sure this is the case and I'd like to hear what other poeple think about it, as well as if you play one or the other, or both.

I have made an argument, which I'm only mildly confident in, that there is very little actual competition between handheld software and games aimed at smart phones and tablets. Though there is some obvious demographic cross over, by and large these are two different markets. The people who buy handhelds are looking for a mor ein depth gaming experience and expect near console quality game development. This is partly a reaction to the fact that, as dedicated gamers, they are willing to pay considerably higher prices and thus expect a considerably more in depth experience fromt he software.

The mobile market however is squarely aimed at a different sort of gamer. These are people who are not necessarily highly invested in it as a hobby. Preferring games more as a momentary distraction from other things, you can see the nature of the software closely matches their attitude towards the activity. These games tend to be simplistic, highly focused on meta acheivements and have "rounds" lasting only a few minutes. This type of gamer has litter time or interest in investing the necessary funds and effort into a more dedicated platform like the 3DS or Vita.

So what do you think? Has mobile gaming really impacted handheld sales from traditional game markets in an appreciable way?
Unfortunately, the competition from smartphones is real, and it's only going to get stronger. Even if you're a die-hard gaming fan, it's a real inconvenience to carry a dedicated gaming device with you. In addition to the added bulk, it's one more device you have to worry about having charged at all times. When I'm on a train, it's so much easier to take a phone out of the pocket and play for a while, even if it's something silly like Plants vs. Zombies (well, that's actually an excellent game :) ).

Nintendo is foolish not to develop its own smartphone. By the time they wake up, it's going to be too late.
I don't know about that. I don't see people carrying around even small gaming devices. I think people only play the games on their phone because they're there. Most people sit at home with their handhelds or view them as a portable alternative for times when they have to go on vacation or visit the relatives. THough I've long thought Nintendo is doing itself disservice with their "we only make software for our own hardware" mentality. I am one of those who thinks the end of consoles, as we currently define them, is approaching fast and companies like Nintendo are going to go through culture shock trying to restructure to meet changing economic realities.
.... Pokemon. That is my rebuttal and my arguement. It seems silly, but - think of the millions (if not billions) made from the Pokemon crazy including but not limited to licensing (like the Airline that has Pikache slapped across the side). And it all came from a silly little game capable of eating up hours and hours and hours of time. A silly little game that has gotten more and more complicated all the time. Now you maybe could put it on a phone, but it would take up so much space that it would effectively make that phone into a gaming device. Which is why we have gaming devices... because we need our other stuff for other stuff. And quite frankly if the 90s didn't kill Nintendo (like it killed Sega) I doubt they're in any real danger now.
No one games on mobile. They just happen to have a phone that plays games that they may use occasionally. There is a big difference.
Handheld games=1000000000000000000000000 X better than mobile games.
Handheld games reach way more depth and are always a lot smoother and play better. Mobile games all get boring fast.
I agree: mobile gaming isn't really "gaming" in the sense of actual video games. Games like Angry Birds and Plants vs Zombies are really no different from, say, solitaire. Small-scale, very little depth. Plus, so many mobile developers put so much work into charging for every little upgrade or extra feature, and I find that soils the experience. Say what you will about DLC on consoles (or handhelds), it's still not as big a rip off as most mobile games.
Handheld will always be better than Mobile games, but Mobile gaming is more easier. I just wish there are apps that can act like virtual consoles on smartphones. I bet if it does come out as virtual consoles then it would take up lots of space and be really small to play.
Whilst there definitely is competition between the two, the gaming experience from actual handheld consoles is by far superior. You might play angry birds or temple run for 5 or 10 minutes, but on the DS or the PS Vita you can have games that would take hours to complete, with fully developed storylines and features that that phone games could simply never accomplish. Whilst there definitely is a lot more in terms of mobile gaming than there was 10 years ago, it will never be able to fully compete with handhelds.
I'm not convinced that there is a real "competition" going on between handheld consoles and smartphones. I mean, there is, and there isn't. There sure is a lot of talk about it. But I'm not convinced that smartphones are a real threat to handheld consoles existence. There are starting to be more and more "handheld" like games on smartphones, I'll grant you that. With more shooters and "polished" games. But the vast majority of smartphone game sales are those of those little app games. Games along the lines of Bejeweled or Chess or Solitaire, or things like that. Novelty games that you can play for a quick minute while you are out and about. Perhaps at a but stop or waiting for a friend, or whatever. As a "hardcore" gaming maching, smartphones are not a real threat to the handheld markets. Yeah, people buy those little touch screen games in droves, and most aren't "hardcore" gamers. But the real "gaming" is still on the handhelds. The 3DS proves that, as it's sells keep climbing, even now. Most of the smartphone games are cheap. 99cents, or whatever. So they are more or less impulse buys. Just on a larger scale, as more people have cell phones than they have handheld consoles. So I'm not surprised by the "numbers" of game sales on smartphones. But they are quick time wasters, mostly. So much so, that it won't stop somebody from buying handheld game.

So I believe that the smartphone game sales is misleading. I don't believe that smartphones and dedicated handheld consoles are in direct competition. Not at this time. Maybe in the future. But not right now. Further proof of that is the Playstation-Certified smartphones. Sony made a big deal about launching some Playstation certified smartphones, and I'm not sure about the actual sales on those particular phones. But I can say that I never hear about them. I'm sure that there are a few out there, and some games on them as we well. But I never hear about people playing those. I never hear about sales of those. And I have never, ever, seen anybody pull out their phones to play "hardcore" games on them like that. However, I see people pull out their 3DS's all of the time. I rarely see a Vita out in real life, and see the PSP even less. But I constantly see DS and 3DS's everywhere.

There might be some "high quality" games on cellphones right now. I'm sure there are lots of emulators out there as well. But the smartphone community is not a hardcore gaming community. The vast majority of them are casual time waster impulse buyers. That's it. For the most part. They may have large game sales, and those may be growing on a constant basis. But at the moment it's no real threat to the handheld market. Even if their numbers surpass the handheld console market, the smartphones are in a completely different (tho related) market. They aren't the same tho. In the future, it may become an issue, so it's something to keep your eye on. But for the time being, it's nothing to worry about. Not until they start to get some real "hardcore" games on the platforms.

Once smartphones start to get AAA 3DS/Vita quality games on them on a regular basis, then you can start to worry, and talk about a real competition between the two. Until then, it's just a misleading trend of impulse buys and time waster games. In fact, those "numbers" are compiled of anything that's in the "games" section, which, some of them aren't even games, but more like apps. But for the most part, smartphone games are as about of a threat to console gaming as online web browser flash games are a threat to real PC gaming. The only difference is, the online web browser flash games are mostly free, as most people don't pay for them. But they seem more compelled to buy the smartphone versions, tho some still get the free version. Also, I'm wondering if they count the "free" versions as "sales" too. Like, are they counting it as a "download" or for any advertising related reason. Or are they only counting the actual paid apps.

Either way, for the time being, it's no real threat. It's just a bunch of misleading numbers that people are reading too much into. The fact that the 3DS is still growing stronger and stronger now, in the middle of the "mobile revolution", shows that. Mobile games are to Handheld consoles, as web browser flash games are to real PC gamers (like Steam games, and what not).

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