While browsing sites like Newegg and BestBuy, as I normally do on a Friday, I happened upon quite an usual item. It was a handheld system, with analog sticks, a D-pad and four button combo. The only thing was that it was not a new Sony or Nintendo system. Rather, it was a handheld built with Android and designed to play mobile games. At first I was like, “Oh, this is interesting and slightly cool.” And then I realized, “But, these aren’t really games.” Well I am wrong in that regard. Mobile gaming has been a spiking trend, ever since the first smartphone debut. As soon mobile games became a popular item, they were sure to inspire a new generation of gamers and developers but, what does that mean for the industry as a whole? We will discuss this in our latest Let’s Talk segment. So grab that handheld of your choice and get ready for some deep looks at the newest forms of gaming.
With the biggest exposure to gaming we have seen, gaming on iOS and Android devices has been on the up and up with every passing new phone release. Android however has expanded in scope, due in part to the Nvidia Shield that runs on an Android OS as it’s base. So, it is only time until the system evolve to take on the handheld items that we have come to know as an almost in home brand. While these handheld devices don’t represent a significant threat to Nintendo’s handheld dominance or even Sony’s PS Vita/PSP market but they are making some headway. The one I looked at in particular was the, JXD S7800B. In-deed a uniquely powerful android, though not rocking superb specifications, this device is a key example of what mobile gamers have at their disposal. But why? Why are consoles, such as the one mentioned above, becoming more and more prevalent? Well, the answer is simple. A new generation of gamers are being exposed to the mobile game market.
For these gamers, games like Tiny Tower, Farmville, NOVA, Final Fantasy 2/3 and Angry Birds are what they have to play on these devices. There are literally new genres and even hybrid genres that are cropping up on these app stores and new formats are being introduced into the gaming world. For a majority of the younger generations, the first game they get is not a Pokemon or Monster Hunter game, it’s Angry Birds or Jurassic World. Games that they have access to on their devices. Minecraft and the Final Fantasy games are just some of the few games that weren’t developed for mobile platforms that give these gamers a door into PC or console gaming. However this presents some obstacles for these mobile gamers.
While this generation learns that to progress they have to spend real world currency or they have to wait ten, thirty maybe even sixty minutes to do something else in their game; this does present a great medium for helping gamers better allocate their time, rather than simply binge playing, it does present them with a skewed look into how games actually play and function. While this premises of mine may be wrong, it is something to at least note. Game developers are porting great classics and current franchises to these mobile platforms to introduce these younger generations to older games but in the process they are having to try to compete with this new landscape and the hundreds of clones that are sure to follow your game. Don’t get me wrong, this is nothing to fret over, though one note to worry about is the micro-transaction function (aka Pay-To-Win/Pay-To-Play). To tell gamers they need to pay to progress further in one day or that they can unlock more turns if they just use the paid in-game currency, is a process that is getting a bit scary, in terms of how big it is. Whether this is influenced by PC MMO’s or just something that has been popping up more and more due to other competing developers pushing similar apps remains to be seen.
If we look at what influence they have had in the market currently can be seen by Nintendo’s recent push in wanting to take a part of the mobile gaming shelf. Nintendo is currently aiming to have their first few games on the mobile marketplace sometime next year. That is a big impression that this market has had if it can influence one of the best and long running gaming companies. But this change in the gaming-marketplace is nothing to be worried about, it will drive competition and it will eventually evolve into something that can possibly compete with the consoles and future handheld devices. But for these generations growing up, the move to a Nintendo handheld or even a proper game console may be an excitingly frustrating new experience for them. New systems will have to be learned and yet it will open the playing field up to these users to experience a wider spectrum of gaming options and yet they will also learn to appreciate a medium of mobile games that so many gamers frown upon.
What do you all think about the new movement in handheld gaming? Do you own a product similar to this like the Nvidia Shield or Ouya? Do you enjoy mobile games more so than traditional handheld games?