One recent debate that has been raging is how the proliferation of mobile phones, iPod Touches, iPads, and tablets are going to take over gaming, therefore making dedicated hand held game systems in particular obsolete. They both can and in my opinion will co-exist for a variety of reasons.
The recent release of the Sony Vita as well as last years launch of the Nintendo 3DS stirred up this debate quite a bit. I have been a video game fanatic even before I ended up in the industry. I have been playing games even before the Atari 2600, on a system that only ancient people like myself and hardcore video game fans will remember, the Magnavox Odyssey system by Phillips the large Dutch company.
For you young folks that have only known modern technology, here is a cool fact for you. Television sets used to produce static electricity from their screens, and the graphics were so primitive with the Magnavox Odyssey that the graphics were actually acetate overlays that stuck on to the television by static electricity with just a few white blocks underneath to drive the game play.
And you know what? Some of these games were an absolute blast to play, even though the graphics were not just bad, they were literally non-existent. Over the years I have seen the industry go through so many changes and for several years there was a sort of arms race to see who could produce the best graphics and sound, but especially graphics.
I believe to a certain extent the industry lost it’s way during that period and forgot about the most important aspect of video games, which is that games MUST be fun. I don’t care how great the graphics are if the game isn’t fun then it serves no purpose. My 21 year old daughter still plays Tetris on a Game Boy Advance SP and loves it. Some games are just timeless.
I am very much platform agnostic and have/had many systems. I used to have a PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii along with many older systems including Super Nintendo, N64, GameCube to name a few. At this point I am pretty much down to the older systems, but will again purchase the current systems when I am able to. My Xbox 360 mysteriously vanished, and I am convinced that I may have gremlins in the boxes I had packed.
I also play games on the iPad, my Android phone and the iPod Touch. While I like some games on these devices the reality is that with the notable exception of a few games that were created specifically with these platforms in mind, most games do not play well on these devices. So far there has not been a great replacement for using a standard controller to play a game.
There have been several games that I have downloaded on to one of these portable devices and then not played them much because they ended up being to difficult to control and they quickly lost their appeal.
While I do believe that these mobile devices will eat in to the sales of dedicated portable game systems to a certain extent, I think that the dedicated devices will still have a place and will continue to sell. The expectations will simply need to be different than they were years ago with much less competition.
Another reason I believe that these dedicated game systems will continue to thrive is the fact that they are just that, dedicated to games. Over the years I have seen many devices attempt to have what I like to call a “Swiss Army Knife” approach.
Most often if you try and be all things to all people you end up being just okay at a bunch of different things versus being great at one thing. I much prefer a system that is a great game system first. Then and only then if it adds other functionality, that’s great so long as it never loses sight of its primary purpose which is to play great games.
I love this industry and feel really privileged to have seen so many changes and growth in a business that for many people was a waste of time. Most gratifying for me was the fact that my dad who always thought video games were a waste of time, lived long enough to see me succeed in this business. I know that while he may not have said it often he was proud of me.
Till next time!