A Future for Handheld Consoles – Could Android’s ‘Wild West’ and Apple’s ‘1984’ Save the Handheld Console?

It seems to me that handheld gaming is reaching something of a cross road. Many are quick to claim that phones are now so powerful and easy to programme for, that they’re the go-to for handheld gaming. Sony and Nintendo obviously don’t believe this as they’ve only just released new handheld consoles.

But you see, a few things suggest to me that handheld consoles still have a place in this world. What are these things?

Today SI complained about the fact that their Football Manager game was pirated at a rate of 9:1 (!) on Android and that they were considering, quite rightly, if the platform is viable for them.

This got me thinking about complaints I’d read about Apple and their constrictions they place on both what they sell on their app store, the access they give to developer s to their hardware and any other stringent restrictions they place on creators of applications.

Could this lack of middle ground prove to be the saving grace of the ‘doomed’ handheld console market?

Another factor to consider is the markets of the respective phones. How many games came out this week on the app store and on the Android Marketplace? I don’t have exact numbers, but with Apple surpassing half a million apps and Android not too far behind, it’s safe to say that getting your game noticed is a lot harder on these devices.

There’s also the problem of the devices themselves. By having no buttons whatsover (on most devices), you’re restricting the types of games you can realisticly put out on these devices. Problems with using the screen as a controller (i.e. covering up what you’re trying to look at) are well known. The number of devices being released also makes it more of a nightmare to know who to aim for. When’s the best time to forget all about the iPad and just focus on the iPad2? Will it work on the iPhone? As for Android devices, forget it. There’s just SO MANY!

So it’s not all rosey for developers on these platforms. It’s clear that these issues aren’t stopping people making content and with some of the reported profits and revenue splits, it’s clearly a lucrative market. But is it a replacement for dedicated handheld consoles?

I don’t think it is. What say you?

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