Just my 2 cents: Mobile vs. Portable Gaming and the Future
Some of you might be wondering what the heck is the difference? The common sense is that mobile gaming is what we see on smartphones and tablets while portable gaming is what we see on dedicated gaming devices like the 3DS, Gameboy, Vita and our beloved PSP; but it actually goes a lot deeper.
Portable games are little different from console/PC videogames, except that they are available on portable platforms. Portable games are very often, just graphically toned down because of hardware limitations but have the same level of thought, game design and love from developers put into them.
Mobile gaming (half-*** gaming?) on the other hand, can hardly be called games… Aside from emulation and re-releases, most of them are mini-games that could be made in the 80s with some kind of gimmick (accelerometers, gps or touchscreen) with cheap in-game purchases, with very few exceptions.
And why am I telling you all of this? Simply because I have read people around the web trying to rationalize the lackluster performance of the PSVITA and blame it on the advent of Android and iOS devices. They go even further to say that portable gaming has no future and it will all be taken over by mobile devices. I don’t think that portable and mobile gaming are in the same market. If anything, I guess it’s more likely to see the end of portable gaming rather than portable games on mobile devices.
Many people argue that most smartphones can outpower both PSVITA and the 3DS. While that may be true, its matters very little. I will say it once again: the videogame market is about software (games), not hardware (platforms). If hardware specs were that important, why the heck people buy the PS4 or XBOne? Let’s face it, any mid-end PC from 2011 can outpower them, so why bother? heck, even PS3 have great games still comming up, and it’s a machine from 2006.
It’s funny how very few people really understand what specs are about, and yet we see many people discussing about it. Who cares that my new phone has four times the amount of RAM of the PSVITA? I can’t play, for instance, Soul Sacrifice on it.
And the problem with mobile games goes way beyond game exclusivity. The mobile gaming will always be a half-*** market, because it will always have half-*** games, and you know why? Because it is crowded with half-*** players. You see, people who plays mobile games are mostly playing them as time-fillers. Just something to do while they wait the bus, wait in line on the bank and so on. That’s why most mobile games require very short attention span.
Forget about the story, music and skill on games that we grew to love, let’s make a game that has no learning curve and can be player on 2 or 3 minutes spurts. I haven’t ever heard (and probably never will) of anyone who says “Oh, I can’t wait to get home to fire up some fruit ninja and play all night!”.
This is so true that even companies that have a history of years of making great videogames make aberrations when it comes to mobile. I can think of EA (http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/technology-science/technology/need-speed-game-charges-real-5051482) and Square-Enix (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Final_Fantasy_All_the_Bravest) on the top of my head.
And why is that? I mean, theoretically mobile would be (and it is) cheaper to develop, it has way more devices on the street, why not make real games on mobile? Among other factors, it’s actually simple: because there is no player attachment whatsoever for these games as they are just time fillers, and that’s why they will never pay more than some few bucks (if any) for them, hence, the budget and thought on these games will also be half-***.
Also, it is a much riskier market, since they are flooded with low quality cheap (or free) games that half-*** players can be lured to (http://techcrunch.com/2015/01/30/zombie-apps-on-the-rise-83-of-apps-not-on-top-lists-up-from-74-last-year/#A4Xkke:dtG), so why bother to make a real game?
While on portable market, even the struggling PSVITA has some great titles. I mean, if they localized Gods Eater 2 for instance, I would buy it in a heartbeat and give up all my exploits without a second thought and buy all their DLC. I have even started to learn japanese only to play the JP release. I could play the original Gods Eater Burst on the PSP even though I have a PS3 and a high end PC with lots of games on Steam. To this day I play some awesome games like YS Seven, and it’s a game from 2009.
So why is the PSVITA struggling? Because Sony won’t care. They don’t want to “risk” supporting their own device (http://www.playstationlifestyle.net/2014/06/18/shuhei-yoshida-you-can-expect-fewer-first-party-ps-vita-games/). Risk? Really? What kind of message does this send to 3rd parties? Don’t you really think that an exclusive God of War game and/or bundle would increase PSVITA sales? Where is Gravity Rush 2? Man, they even “lost” the Monster Hunter to Nintendo, and thats just lazy. PSVITA is made for quality portable gaming like that, and yet Sony refuses to see it.
So I think people should stop to try to blame mobile gaming and hardware specs on the PSVITA lackluster performance, because there isn’t anyone to blame but Sony and their lack of faith and love for their own (and awesome) portable platform. I still think there is time to save the PSVITA, so Sony please, oh please, start making some games and deals to revive our beloved handheld, like get Namco to localize Gods Eater 2.