Whether the gaming hardware industry wanted it or not, the mobile phone market has started to erode away at the consumer base for portable consoles. Sony and Nintendo have been working to make their devices special and capable of doing more than phones. But is that enough?
“When you look at the type of consumer that’s playing cell phone games currently, it’s someone that enjoys smaller ‘kill time’ gaming and has not gravitated to the larger, richer, deeper experiences that true handheld gaming provides…
…As we go toward the PlayStation Vita, I can tell you that as we started looking at that product and the market opportunity several years ago, we saw a real strong demographic for those deeper, richer, console-type experiences. We had them on PSP, but we’ve taken them to a new level on PS Vita with the entirety of new ways to play.”
I’m with Koller so far, but I think there’s a key component to this whole thing that Sony’s not admitting; well, at least not publicly. Most people don’t like carrying more than one device around with them at all times. This notion of portable gaming implies that you bring your system with you on the go. For core gamers looking to enjoy those deeper, console-type experiences, the PS Vita makes sense as their next buy.
But for the casuals fancying a go at a true gaming device? What is there to convince them that carrying two large pieces of hardware in their pockets is a good idea?
“That ‘new ways to play’ idea, particularly for Vita, really differentiates from what’s available on mobile phones or tablets and, frankly, what will be available on those platforms over the next three to five years. You’re going to see PS Vita expand what a lot of people believe to be true about handheld gaming, and you’re going to see a lot of those current mobile phone and tablet gamers come over to Vita. We’re very convinced of that.”
Kudos to Sony for displaying a ton of confidence, but I’m not exactly convinced that mobile and tablet gamers will see an urge to migrate to the PS Vita platform. I want them to, of course, as more success for the gaming industry will spur on more innovation and change. But, and I return to my argument above, I really believe that people will feel like they don’t need another major device in their lives.
The major component that makes portable handheld gaming better than mobile gaming as far as I’m concerned? Analog controls. The games may be cheaper on mobile platforms, but the analog pads on the 3DS and PS Vita make all the difference in the world to me.