GamesBeat

Keeping handhelds alive in a world of mobile

Image Credit: Rovio
This post has been edited by the GamesBeat staff. Opinions by GamesBeat community writers do not necessarily reflect those of the staff.
Editor's Note from Stephanie Carmichael:
In ways, mobile presents a serious threat to handhelds like the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita. Cassie argues that games are what will keep them relevant and prevent mobile from taking over completely.

With mobile gaming on the rise, dedicated handhelds could face obsolescence.

I have always been a handheld gaming addict. I used to go into a closet late at night and turn the light on just so I could play my Game Boy Color. When I got my Game Boy Advance, I took it everywhere (and no longer had to worry about not being able to see the screen). Then came the Game Boy Advance SP, which I think is one of the greatest handhelds in existence. Here is a photo of my reaction when I opened it on Christmas morning in 2003:

Today, I own a Nintendo 3DS and am one of the few who owns a PlayStation Vita. I really enjoy handhelds, but I fear they may not be around for much longer.

With powerful phones and tablets available to almost everyone, more people are playing games on those devices rather than on handhelds. After all, when you can buy one device that can call, text, surf the web, and play games, why would you want to go out and spend hundreds of dollars on a separate system that can only do the latter?

Personally, I only play mobile games to kill time. When I’m waiting at the doctor’s office, I’ll pull up Temple Run or Angry Birds. As for hardcore gaming, it just isn’t enjoyable.

On the other hand, the Vita’s dual analog sticks make it possible to have a console-like experience on the go. Try playing a first-person shooter on a touch-screen phone or tablet. It’s not much fun. And the Nintendo 3DS has an amazing library of titles, such as Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D, Super Mario 3D Land, and many more. These are games that are hard to play on touch-screen-only devices. Also, when playing mobile games, you can experience many different interruptions, like a phone call, text message, or an event reminder. All of these pull you out of the experience.

Don’t get me wrong: I support mobile gaming. I think it’s great that I can play games on my phone or tablet. Companies like PowerA have even created controllers like MOGA for your mobile devices so you can turn them into handheld gaming systems. But how can actual handheld systems survive? The answer is simple: Keep making great games.

Titles like Temple Run and Jetpack Joyride are great, but they’re no match for the hardcore games I can play on my 3DS and Vita, like Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time and Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon. For me to enjoy a mobile gaming experience, I need buttons, not just a touch screen.

I hope that developers continue to make great mobile games but don’t forget about all of the core gamers who enjoy their handhelds.

What’s your opinion on handheld versus mobile gaming?


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