Perhaps it is a sad state of affairs but much like The Daily Show provides me my reasonably balanced TV news, webcomics, of late, seem to be providing me the most geek news. A recent strip from Penny Arcade led me to the news that Nintendo was reducing the price of the 3DS due to low sales. Furthermore, PA indicated that something that I had not thought of before, that game capable smartphones were one of the causes. Maybe I am the slowest man in the universe but I just had not contemplated that idea. Here I sit no PSP, Gameboy, or other portable device in hand, but a few inches from me a smartphone loaded with at least a gig of games on it sits, and I just did not think about it.
Now that I am though, let us look at what is going on out there. A quick stop at bestbuy.com lists the average 3DS game at $39.99. A little more research and we find that the probable price tag for the upcoming PS Vita is also $39.99. We know that a huge chunk of games on iTunes are free or 99 cents, but let us assume you want more quality console-type games. A quick look and we have Archetype, a bestselling FPS, selling for 99 cents, Angry Birds, which you would have to be dead for a year to not know about, selling for 99 cents, Ultimate Mortal Combat for 99 cents, the original Final Fantasy selling for $8.99, and Final Fantasy Tactics selling for $15.99. The highest priced game I found and it is less than half the price of a 3DS or vita game. ITunes and Android stores also have a plethora of classic arcade games as well as digital versions of board games for the taking.
Let us look a little deeper now. ITunes has an integrated game center that allows for a friend system as well as gaining achievements, a virtual must have for gamers anymore. There are demo’s available and free versions with advertising for many games. It is easier for prospective game developers to “break into” ITunes market and create games, while quality is still mostly maintained.
You will undoubtedly note that I have not spoken much on Android while examining this phenomenon, mostly because I have an iPhone 4 and do not know too much about the Android (and half of you yell sacrilege!). Much like the Pepsi vs. Coke debate, the two phones seem sufficiently compatible that I doubt there is enough difference to matter on this subject.
Android and iPhone continue to advance in technology. Windows is jumping on the bandwagon and will undoubtedly catch up in quality and fanbase sooner rather than later. Are we then looking at the future of portable gaming? How soon until Sony and Nintendo have no choice but to abandon their own devices and move towards smartphone support? Alternatively, perhaps their fanbases will be enough to stave this off. Is this trend inevitable? Time will tell, I suppose. In the meantime, comment and share your view.
All Geeks Considered