Portable gaming is bigger now than any time in its 37 year history. Of course nowadays, portable gaming means mobile gaming and 1.5bn gamers aren’t staring at TVs and PCs for their gaming needs; that’s 20% of people on this planet. But what does this mean for the future of videogames?
Mobile killed the Portable Star
In 1979, the first handheld games console was released. The Microvision had no inherant computing power and only a dozen games were ever released. It would be several years later until the most popular handheld, nay popular console of all time was released, namely the Nintendo Game Boy. Whilst by no means dependant on Pokemon, the title did and continues to be the killer app for portable gaming.
With Pokemon GO to be released shortly and Nintendo signing partnerships with other mobile developers, the company has begun to acknowledge that mobile, rather than handheld is the future of portable gaming. The last roll of the dice for Nintendo appears to be the NX. Reports appear to be that the console will effectively serve a converged end user device, streaming to TVs and pulling further computational power down through other devices via cloud. Effectively the NX is distributed computing applied to gaming.
Nothing Ever Changes
Despite the tribalism of gamers it is important to note that the end of handheld gaming will happen to all segments of gaming. Nintendo, whilst as always heading for the blue water, has approach the economic realities along with technological evolution in its own way – but the end result is the same as Steam ‘streaming’ or Microsoft’s strategy for the Xbox.
Gaming is becoming a service; for all of the talk of any given console’s horsepower, if NX can roll out cloud computing Nintendo can provide the most powerful console without including it the hardware.
Universal application packaging twinned with the benefits of cloud computing touted under the Xbox One indicates a similar move – wherein games played on a mobile device would be no different with hardware shortcomings augmented by external computing. Apple is also using dynamic scaling and application packaging to maximise the power of its own devices. The future of gaming; whether mobile, hand held, console or PC is the same, convergence.
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