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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

PS Vita: How the Console Beats Smartphone Gaming Hands Down

A lot of talk has been heard regarding the popularity of mobile gaming. There are now literally hundreds of thousands of apps available across all cell phone platforms that allow the users to while away idle moments. A few months ago the trend was Angry Birds, it briefly became Fruit Ninja, and now everyone seems to be playing the Pictionary simulator Draw Something.

But how much of a threat to traditional handheld gaming is mobile gaming? On the face of it, it would seem that mobile gaming was in a position to overtake the handheld console, for example Sony’s ground breaking PS Vita, in terms of popularity. The main reason for the platforms success is its availability. The vast majority of those people who are likely to play video games on the move own smartphones. A cell phone is always with you, by it’s very nature. It is not one extra device to remember to charge because for many people, having a mobile phone with them on the move is as vital as remembering their keys and money.

However mobile gaming will never replace the benefits of a dedicated handheld gaming platform in the hearst and minds of gamers. The graphics and processing power offered by the PS Vita, for example, is far superior to that offered by any mobile phone. A cell phone has other functions to worry about, and manufacturers need to cut corners, or are not experts in gaming technology, unlike industry leaders like Sony. The high-definition display on the PS Vita, with its huge size,  is designed specifically for the purpose of enjoying great games. The second benefit is the price. A handheld console will set the user back about 300 dollars. A smartphone that could play games to a similar standard around 600 dollars. For gamers it makes sense to buy a cheaper smartphone, that makes really great calls and can browse the internet, and buy a dedicated console like the PS Vita. The list of AAA games available for the PS Vita dwarfs the thousands of tiny apps available for the smartphones. A hardcore gamer may enjoy the harmless distraction of draw something for an hour but people who love great games would surely much rather immerse themselves in a title like Uncharted  - Golden Abyss, than spend tens of hours playing Angry Birds.

And that is where handheld gaming really wins out over mobile gaming. Take the PS Vita for example, everything about the screen, buttons, touchpad, dual joystick controls are finely tuned to the needs of gamers. Anyone who has ever tried to play Grand Theft Auto on the iPhone will tell you how impossible it is to control the vehicle and see the map, because their thumbs cover most of the screen. On a handheld you don’t have to worry about reserving battery in case you need to make that important call, or you need to use the GPS. Mobile gaming is a fun distraction, but it is nowhere near endangering the handheld console market.

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