When I think back to the first handheld gaming experience I had, I remember playing Frogger on a Tiger electronic handheld gaming device. Not too long after, I got ahold of my first Nintendo GameBoy and it was one of my favorite gaming experiences. I am not alone in my love for the original Gameboy line up which included Tetris, Mario and although it was difficult to play, the original Castlevania. I also had the luxury of owning a Sega Game Gear which was somewhat ahead of it’s time.
Today we have handhelds like the Nintendo 3DS and Sony PSVita, which are great ways to game but another strong competitor has started to move in to the handheld gaming territory, the cell phone. The cell phone over the years -as I have mentioned in earlier posts- has previously never been noted for it’s amazing gaming capabilities. Actually, many graphing calculators had better gaming than most of the cell phones on the market. Most early cell phones featured snake or Tetris which we saw again when the next generation of color LCD screen cell phones came out. These newer games usually ran on java and actually started to look a little better but let’s not kid ourselves,they mostly sucked.
Cell phones weren’t even close to being considered any type of competition for devices like the Gameboy, in fact they weren’t even in the same class, there were strictly handhelds and cell phones (mobile gaming). However, the lines have now basically been erased and the term “mobile” gaming encompasses both cell phones and handhelds.
I have to ask though, when did this happen? Well, most of my personal experience comes from using devices like the original iPod and eventually the iPhone. The gaming experience on the iPod in later versions, (iPod video) was also done quite well and this is when I began to see a future for gaming on these new devices.
Gaming on devices like the iPod and Samsung Galaxy, is extremely popular these days and it looks like these devices have started to take over mobile gaming. Just look at games like Angry Birds, what device would you say is most likely being used to play this game?
How we know things have changed-
When you look at the latest handheld devices like the Sony PS Vita, we see features that were previously only available on devices like the iPhone. 3G, GPS, front and rear facing cameras, and even motion sensors are all now standard components for handhelds. Another point to consider is that I see many more people with their phones in hand on a daily basis than any “gaming only” device and for good reason, we need the cell phone capability, it’s how we survive these days, so it only makes sense that we would prefer to game on them. An added bonus of developers getting their games on a cell phone OS is that you can reach an audience that would otherwise remain unreachable, a large group of people who would never buy a device like a Nintendo Gameboy but would definitely own a cell phone. It’s all in the numbers and app purchases are huge, the amount of games sold on the App store is impressive and it shows where consumer attention is.
Mobile gaming has never been better than it is today and it’s largely due to the impact of these new cell phone devices. As history shows us, it takes competition to drive forward innovation and creativity. With the addition of all of these new ways to interact with your applications, like motion control and touch,we have seen changes in gaming that we haven’t seen in years and we can now interact with our games in a way we never would have thought to be possible in a mobile form factor. Again, the mobile gaming space is not any different than any other in that it’s driven by competition and I would argue that without devices like the iPhone, mobile gaming may look quite different today. There has never been a better time to not only create a gaming app but any app, and it’s all thanks to the latest evolution of the mobile gaming space.