E3: Are Gaming Handhelds Dying?
Most of us have grown up with handheld video games and have spent hundreds, if not thousands of hours playing with them, to the chagrin of our parents! But are these dedicated gaming machines slowly dying because of the advent of iPad, iPhone and Android phones that have thousands of inexpensive games on them? Sad, but true..
Last week in Los Angeles, game industry professionals got together for the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2012 (E3 2012), and showcased their best devices, games and software. While there were some exciting announcements, it was obvious that a tectonic (major) shift has happened in gaming.
Highlights of E3
Of the device manufacturers (Microsoft Xbox, Sony and Nintendo), the Sony Playstation 3 had the most exciting new games. "The Last of us" is a beautiful strategy game of survival after civilization crumbles. "Unfinished Swan" and "Beyond: Two Souls" were honorable mentions.
Microsoft unveiled SmartGlass, a new program that lets the 360 interface with tablets and smartphones, and could revolutionize how we interact with our entertainment. Upcoming games were mostly sequels: "Halo 4", "Dance Central 3" and "Gears of War: Judgment".
Nintendo focused on its new console, the Wii U, which launches in the holiday season. It’s basically a high-definition Wii that supports the Wii remote, a traditional game controller, and a new dedicated tablet called the Wii U GamePad. But people could not help feeling that the Wii U is an awkward combination of a Wii, an Xbox 360 and an iPad. Ouch!
Sony's fascinating project featuring a new Harry Potter book from JK Rowling should delight with its terrific implementation of augmented reality. WonderBook, an accessory for the Playstation is an augmented reality interactive storybook. It is complete with turn-able pages that come to life on screen when placed in-front of the PlayStation Eye camera. Read this Youngzine article on augmented reality, and see the video below to learn more.
What's happening to handhelds?
Making and selling enough of these special devices that can only be used to play games, is getting expensive for companies like Nintendo and Sony. These days, more people have iPads, iPhones and Android phones in their household than these expensive devices.
Game developers prefer making games for the iPad than say, for Nintendo because they can sell more. iPads have dazzling graphics, video and sensing. Soon, with Apple TV, you will be able to use your iPhone as your controller, while graphics fly on your big-screen TV.
All this is not necessarily bad, and in fact, a great example of how things change in technology in just a few years. In the end the consumer always wins. For you will now have a much bigger selection of games that are a lot cheaper, and more fun!