I may have mentioned before that I’m a console girl. But with the rise of faster Internet connectivity, an increased focus on online gameplay and the rapid rate of technological development on PC, it’s starting to look a bit bleak for the future of console gaming.
For some, the popularity and range demonstrated by mobile phones and tablets in the world of (casual) gaming points to certain death for the console in the next decade. And there are a few reasons why playing the kind of games we see coming out for these platforms is more popular than gaming in the more traditional sense (with genres like first-person, role-playing etc.).
First, the accessibility of the device: almost everyone has some form of smartphone these days, capable of handling pretty sophisticated graphics and gameplay elements.
Secondly, both the device and the games are cheaper. Most Apple and Android games cost around $0.99 (about R9) compared to the games available for the PS Vita, Nintendo 3DS or even the larger consoles, the Xbox 360 or PS3 – which can cost you anything from R150 to R700.
And finally, as PhoneDog suggests, the emergence of tablets, beginning with the birth of the iPad, has brought with it a far superior end user and gaming experience than portable consoles like the PSP.
But don’t give up on the console just yet.
Take Two CEO Strauss Zelnick believes it will be cheaper and easier to develop next-gen console games because the visuals and technology are experiencing a significant jump. He believes that a more powerful range of consoles won’t equal more expensive development, production and purchase.
So far, Microsoft and Sony are expected to begin lifting the lid on their next-gen consoles, the so-called Xbox 720 and the PlayStation 4 next year, and we should get our hands on the new consoles by 2014.
EA’s Labels president, Frank Gibeau has already hinted that the developer is making “spectacular” games for the next-gen consoles and let slip that the consoles are due in “about a year’s time”.
But, while I believe that mobile phones and tablets are just an extension of a gamer’s personality – an opportunity to fill the gaming need on the go - there are others that argue that these devices are taking over. For some, it has become apparent that smartphones and tablets are actually competing with consoles and console games.
With the incredible development enjoyed by smartphones and tablets in recent years, it’s no surprise that people are giving credit where it is due.
Since the release of the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3, we have had five new generation iPod and iPhone releases. In that time, we also received the world’s first tablets from iPads to Galaxy Tabs. And in a short space of time, these smartphone and tablet games have become wildly popular – with indie developers bringing a range of unusual and amazing games to the table at a relatively low cost.
Will the inexpensive mobile and tablet gaming world eventually wipe out console gaming? At first glance, it seems the handheld gaming devices like the PS Vita and the Nintendo 3DS will be the first to become extinct as smartphones and tablets continue to develop at such a rapid pace.
Perhaps the concept of console gaming will not disappear; rather, the future of console gaming might be plugging the tablet into the television and using a Bluetooth controller to play Assassin’s Creed 8.
It’s not inconceivable. But I hope this mammoth change doesn’t happen too soon. I’d still like a few good years with my PlayStation 3 before it's time to pull the plug.