Is The End Of Gaming Handhelds Near?

Video game handhelds are getting a run for their money, and they're getting it from smartphones. But are they good enough as dedicated handheld game machines? Most serious games would offer a curt "no".

As Doom programmer John Carmack points, it is possible to create game for platforms like the iPhone that look as good as titles for dedicated gaming handhelds. But, of course, phones lack the dedicated input devices (directional pads and buttons) found on gaming handhelds.

"The smartphone may turn out to be 80 percent as good at gaming as a dedicated gaming platform," Carmack tells The Dallas Morning News.

"People are going to carry their smartphone, and if it's an 80 percent gaming device, how many people in the gaming market will be satisfied with that? That's the question that's in everybody's mind, and I really don't know."

Carmack recently released an iOS spin-off version of upcoming shooter Rage.

But Carmack adds that game developers are somewhat reluctant to fully embrace smartphones, The Dallas Morning News reports, because the same consumers who might pay $US40 or $US50 bucks for a DS or PSP game might be more reluctant to shell out a few bucks for a smartphone game.

But if more players are gaming on smartphones, then the industry must follow. According to Carmack, "If that's what the consumers are going to trend towards on there, there may not be much as developers we can do about that."

Carmack tells the paper that the upcoming NGP and Nintendo 3DS could very well be the last generation of dedicated gaming handhelds. Says Carmack, "You don't always get to build pyramids just because you want to."

Las Vegas did. But that's besides the point.

Smart phones and tablets becoming video game machines [The Dallas Morning News][Pic: Getty]


    Doubt it the smartphones aren't as they said going to get controls on more than a few handsets

    To me your iPhone/droid = Internet flash games( which isn't a bad thing)

    I'll most likely end up getting the NGP (The main DS games I play are things like Mario Kart and Metroid, rather than more DSish games like Scribblenauts or Ace Attorney) but my purchase would be guaranteed Day 1 if the thing just had a phone inbuilt.

    Ive never played a really good game on a smart phone. They've been decent, byt never as amazing as a DS or PSP game can be.

    The controller issue is a big one for me. I like my old dpad/sticks with buttons.

    The main issue, as far as I can tell, with handheld vs phone is the games themselves. Handheld games might be often questionable, but you get a solid gem pushed out regularly, at a fair price - sometimes under priced, as games like plants vs zombies or angry birds show. 90%, or greater, of these are coming from the indie scene, not professional, though.

    Handhelds are locked by the developers, though, and the prices and regulations make it incredibly hard for indies to get in there, and thus the indie game development is a no-show. The handheld market place needs to learn from apple, android and xbl and devise a system where they recoup via the sale of the game units, rather than the dev kit.

    Seriously, you see so many good ideas for the ds that never get developed because of too-tight market restrictions and I'm sure the psp has an upside too.

    Smart Phones are for casuals.

    I admit that as the smart phones becomes more popular, there is more of a market for the cheap casual downloadable games, but I also can't see an end for handhelds anytime soon.

    I still don't consider my smartphone a proper gaming device and I probably never will unless the phone is targetted specifically at gamers. I will hardly ever play games on my phone unless I'm bored out of my mind on the train or bus and don't have a Nintendo or Sony handheld with me. I don't get the same satisfaction from playing a game on my phone as I do on my handheld.

    I don't think the industry should feel obligated to shift over to smartphones because in truth, they will have an audience on a proper handheld for a long time to come. Then again, they are looking for money afterall and what better way to get it than to target the casual gaming market on smartphones.

    This has nothing to do with 'casuals', and chasing the 'easy money'.

    How many people carry a gaming handheld with them everywhere they go? Now consider how many people carry smartphones everywhere?

    We all already have game-capable phones with us 24/7 - they may not deliver the same quality of experiences that dedicated devices do, but more and more people are simply not going to bother buying another (less portable) device to play on when they already have one in their pocket anyway.

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