The Future of Gaming is Doomed


CS: There’s no denying it, the gaming industry has been blown into the stratosphere, thanks to the smartphone. However, the gaming market’s success is increasingly looking like its own downfall. Smartphones have muscled into handheld gaming, a once niche area, and risks supplanting my handheld gaming consoles completely. Take the Nintendo DS for example – unleashed into a smartphone free market, it stormed the world and sold almost two hundred million units. Its successor however, the 3DS, was not so lucky. Despite boasting improved graphics, internet capabilities and 3D screens, it sold only around 40 million units. The fact is, casual gamers don’t want to fork out £150 for a console and £30 for games when they can buy games on a phone they already own for 99p. It just doesn’t make any sense.

TD: Right, let’s all be perfectly honest now. Is anyone seriously going to tell me they believe that console video gaming and handheld gaming are the same thing? Something like Call of Duty or Skyrim is self-evidently incomparable to Flappy Bird or Candy Crush Saga. We’re talking about completely different markets here. You pay more because you get more; with the exciting things modern technology can do your average gamer is not going to turn their back on big bucks console gaming, just so they can strain their eyes out playing some 99p smartphone timewaster.

CS: Ok, I wasn’t saying that handhelds and consoles fill the same space in the market, because it’s simply not true. However, it’s impossible to deny that they aren’t connected. Console manufacturers produce both kinds of gaming platform and if one is losing the money, the other is bound to suffer due to their technological symbiosis. Which is what they are, be fair now.  They just can’t compare to what you can get on console or PC, and never will. Therefore, any money the smartphone gaming market (which makes up about 75% of app profits) harms the mainstream gaming industry.


TD: To be fair, handheld consoles are essentially dead in the water. But does this necessarily spell doom for the big game and console developers? Of course not, these big dogs will either cut their losses and retreat entirely from the handheld market, or go into developing smart phone games. These are clever people, even if a lot of recent triple A titles wouldn’t necessarily have you believe it. More importantly, they’ve got a LOT of money to throw around, with a solid market of ‘serious’ gamers to lap up whatever comes out bearing their logo, whatever the price.

CS: While consoles may be safe for the time being, there’s no way of knowing what the future will hold. You hit the nail on the head about handheld gaming: it is dead in the water. And whatever is developed for the smartphone platform will never meet the standards of classic Nintendo. As a Nintendo investor once said, “Just think of paying 99 cents just to get Mario to jump a little higher.” That’s simply the nature of smartphone games: you have to keep paying if you want more. Imagine if Pokemon had been developed for the iPhone, having to pay for rare Pokemon. Also, think about how much storage space it’d take up. Although the console market survives (for now), smartphones have undoubtedly knocked the gaming sector off balance.

TD: Whilst your use of the phrase “consoles may be safe for the time being” has made me suddenly worried they might one day develop sentience and murder me in my bed, I have to accept that smart phone gaming could be viewed as a pretty cynical business model. But they work, because there are enough people pouring loose change into the game to speed things up or purchase the union jack pool cue that the rest of us can enjoy them for free, or near enough anyway. But it isn’t the same, and for that reason if nothing else, console gaming endures.

2 thoughts on “The Future of Gaming is Doomed

  1. The DS sold 150m units, not “almost 200m”, and predated the iPhone (and the usable app stores that kickstarted the smartphone games revolution) by three years. I’d hardly consider that to be a “smartphone ecosystem”.

    40 million units though is hardly much to sniff at. The DS has had almost ten years to generate its 150m, the 3DS doing 40m in three is still pretty good.

    Given that big titles continue to come to both the 3DS and the Vita, your assertion that they’re “dead in the water” is just flat-out wrong.

    All this is to say nothing of the thriving PC market.

  2. Its dead in the water. I play all kinds of games consoles,handhelds,smartphone and some pc games. But i have a Moga controller i use on my s5 and i seriously wouldn’t spend a dime on new handhelds now. More games are getting controller support not to mention emulators that im using also. The reason why i prefer it is because its cheaper, got XBMC on my phone and i can do everything with it plus play games, the phones are just so versatile and more portable as you will take your phone with you everywhere, handhelds won’t necessarily be taken from the home unless you know you will be using it for extended time.

Comments are closed.