The iPhone Is Not Killing Portable Gaming Systems

At least not single handedly. There has been a bit chatter in the gaming industry that smart phones like the Apple iPhone are making it harder for dedicated portable gaming devices like the Sony Playstation Vita and Nintendo 3DS to be successful. As a consumer and observer of the gaming industry, I disagree. Below, I break it down into 3 major sections that seem to cause portable systems to fall short.

Product Focus
Sony wasted time making the Playstation Vita a social device and a gaming device. Let’s be honest for a moment… if you want to check your Facebook messages you’re going to reach into your pocket and pull out your phone. Instead of working on social apps for the Vita, Sony should have implemented simple connectors to social sites simply to share scores, trophies and game play videos at most. Also, the Vita did not need GPS… again, this is a gaming console, not a phone. I’d also venture to say that the Vita did not need a rear touch screen, but thats nit picking. I won’t pick on Sony for trying to be innovative. Nintendo of course was all over the touch screen gimmick but had the for sight to know that a touch screen alone was not fit for gaming. As such, the 3DS can appeal to the casual gamer looking for simple and fun experiences as well as traditional gamers who feel comfortable playing with a traditional controller. Something which devices like the iPhone cannot duplicate using a touch screen. You’ve got controls obstructing the game screen not to mention smart phones are so small that playing for long periods can cause discomfort in your hands.

The advertisements for these products includes so much non gaming material, once again it makes the device seem unfocused. If people think that the Vita is competing with the iPhone, feature for feature, it will lose over all. Manufacturers need to be clear in their marketing to the right people. Also, how does Sony not discuss the Vita at their press release in E3? If anything, the Vita should have been front and center at E3. The last thing Sony needs is more losses. Nintendo tends to play it safe in these cases, marketing to its main 2 demographics… children and the casual gamer. Consequently, Nintendo tends to be the most appealing to both types of players. That’s not to say there aren’t more complicated gaming experiences on the 3DS, but Nintendo is smart enough to know that the money is in  games for children… and our inner child. Sony should be focusing on console gamers and hard core gamers. After all, with its features and specs, it’s the best fit for the job.

The reason why people buy an iPhone, 3DS and a Vita are each different reasons. The iPhone is primarily for people who want a phone and email device on the go. The other functions of the device are actually secondary. The iPhone was not designed for hard core gaming, which is why there are so many simple games for it. Let’s face it, playing Street Fighter IV on a touch screen sucks. On the other hand, the Vita has a controller that can deliver console level gameplay. Because of that, the games should be console level. Especially since the Vita has enough horsepower to compete with current gen games graphically. A quick review of the Playstation Vita’s library shows a decent selection of good games and a small selection of console level games. Why is Call of Duty MW3 not on the Vita? To a degree, we can be sympathetic with the Vita since it just came out this year and lets face it, making AAA games is not a fast process. Although presumably, porting a PS3 game to Playstation Vita can’t be too lengthy a process.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is that Androids and iPhones are fantastic devices. We use them to keep in touch with the people we need too… we use them to run our businesses… we use them for personal entertainment… we can even play games on them. But an iPhone cannot duplicate the experience of playing Street Fighter IV on an arcade stick or an Xbox controller… It can’t duplicate the tactile response you get from pulling the R button on your controller to make a head shot in COD. But the Playstation Vita can…. and will! The good news is that the Vita has a killer list of games on the way and we can only hope it keeps growing.

I also blame the media/blogs/magazines/G4 for comparing the Vita and 3DS with the iPhone which is among the most ignorant things I could think of doing. That’s like comparing a 4X4 off road truck with an expensive Italian sports car. It’s dumb and something we’d expect Top Gear to do as a parody.

As a hardcore gamer… it saddens me to think that portable gaming can only be done on a touch screen. It’s literally a terrible and upsetting thought to think that there could be no Game Boy for the next generation of gamers.

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