In this week’s podcast, we get into another discussion about the handheld vs mobile space in which I declare that handhelds like the Nintendo 3DS and the forthcoming PS Vita still have a shot to fill a niche that mobile devices can’t. I’m of the mind that these devices’ big budget games and, generally speaking, their more fleshed out and engrossing experiences are a unique attraction that should draw new audiences and those of us with iDevices that want a bit more.
As terrifying as it is, Sony and I are on the same wavelength on this. Despite the fact that the PS Vita will draw on a lot of the extra functionality that makes handheld gaming so much more attractive with a phone, Sony believes that its retail products will provide the extra oomph to battle purely mobile platforms and their games’ comparatively lower-budget and lower dev time experiences.
Speaking with GameSpot, Sony’s John Koller said that Sony views mobile and the handheld gamers as two demographics, but he also reckons that mobile people who want the larger, bigger budget experiences will flock to handhelds -- the PS Vita in particular.
"When you look at the type of consumer that's playing cell phone games currently, it's someone that enjoys smaller 'kill time' gaming and has not gravitated to the larger, richer, deeper experiences that true handheld gaming provides,” he said.
"We've certainly seen that on the PSP, and I know Nintendo has probably commented on it for their products, but as we go toward the PS Vita, I can tell you that as we started looking at that product and the market opportunity several years ago, we saw a real strong demographic for those deeper, richer, console-type experiences. We had them on PSP, but we've taken them to a new level on PS Vita with the entirety of new ways to play."
Our take has always been, via Sony messaging and Vita functionality, that Sony is aware that it’s competing against phones. It strikes us as weird that Koller is talking about two separate demographics. Regardless, the point Koller makes is a cogent one: as of right now, we don’t have a Half-Minute Hero or a God of War or a Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. You still have to grab a handheld for these kinds of experiences.
The jury is still out, though, on if people actually want to lug around something as big as a Vita or splurge on the tech when they could just grab a console, which will have even bigger and often more satisfying games.