Handheld Gaming – the new portables

The gaming world’s head must be spinning with Nintendo and Sony both showing off new portable gaming platforms in recent weeks.  While both are likely to be excellent devices in many ways, both strike me as a little backward in not taking up a better approach for software delivery, particularly in light of the fact that the DS was plagued with such piracy problems that it became a non-viable platform for many studios to develop for.

Why aren’t Sony and Nintendo looking at the robustness of the iOS app delivery?  As a retail model it’s been proven to work brilliantly – and I’m saying this from the standpoint of not being a huge Apple fan – even though the actual app store itself is a bit rubbish (take a look at Big Fish Games website and see how finding games can be so much easier).

Of course, the problem with the app store model is that Sony and Nintendo wouldn’t be able to take a large amount from each sale of the over-priced, hard-copy games, so they’re likely to milk it for as long as they can.

I must admit that I’m surprised at the expected price of the two new devices – both well over 200 GBP by all accounts.  If I was buying a device for a child of mine I’d be trying to convince them to have an iPod Touch instead.  Not only are the games all so much cheaper, it’s far more than a simple game platform.  I used to think that the iPod Touch was seriously over-priced, but it’s looking more like good value for money all the time.

My feeling is that Sony and Nintendo have missed a trick and may well regret it (Sega, anyone?) but at least Sony have one saving grace in that they are supporting the Android platform with their Playstation app.

About Steve

Writer and game designer with 18 years of development experience. Nominated for Best Game Script at the Writers' Guild of Great Britain Awards 2008.
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