This is the third article of the trilogy series of “The New Life of the Portable Game Console”. The first segment covered problems in the portable gaming sector, the second segment covered ways to possibly fix them and the third focuses on the future.
In this final segment, I want to look at a couple of different aspects that I have ignored so far: Apple’s good moves and the future of the portable game console.
So what has Apple done right?
I think Apple has done a couple of extremely important things to not just improve cell phones but to improve the landscape and accessibility in the next-gen of portable gaming. The biggest move that they would have to be responsible for is the introduction of digital distribution to the masses. People are not as concerned anymore about the idea of having no physical ownership over something they paid for. As much as I love having a physical copy of a game, I realize that it’s just far more convenient and cheaper for the publishers to sell games and apps over a digital marketplace than it is to create boxed copies. It has created a way for smaller developers to be able to survive the vicious landscape of gaming and be able to grow with just one release. I don’t think that Apple had expected to become so popular over the games in the App Store, but they certainly won’t cut off the huge amount of revenue that’s coming in from gamers.
Apple has also created one of the best all-in-one devices on the market. The iPhone is among the best handheld media devices and provides some of the best hardware ever seen. The iPhone has actually pushed the expectations of people and the hardware that will be released this generation. Combine that with the necessity of the modern cell phone and there’s a strong argument for all future gaming portables to have a cell phone combined into them as well—just not like the horrible N-Gage.
The Future of Portable Gaming
You could say that a lot of what is to follow is more of a gamer’s wet dream, but I prefer to believe that everything to follow is just a matter of time.
Portable is Home
The NGP is almost proving that this is possible, but throw in the new cloud saving service that Sony is introducing, and the ability to save a game and continue later on your preferred platform seems to be just around the corner. The hardware appears to be just about there with the massive improvements that continue to be made and the ports of Playstation 3 games to the NGP that have been said to be done with relative ease. This is one that could be reality very soon.
A More “Complete” Online Service
We all want to be able to use our home console IDs (like PSN IDs or Gamertags) on both our home platforms and the portable consoles. Away with the need to disconnect from online buddies and competitors. The same online features will soon be available on portable consoles but it sounds like it will start as an incomplete service. Trophies and online statuses with full multiplayer on the go will be coming pretty soon, but I think that the service needs to offer the same level of service that we normally experience at home.
Crossing the Streams
Imagine that you were playing Mario Kart on the Wii but the unthinkable happens and you need to leave. There’s no save points and you’re in the middle of a Grand Prix. What do you? Pause, turn on your DS, and keep playing exactly where you paused before.
The portable consoles will have the unique ability to stream everything from your library, including games. No other device could match the pure functionality of such a powerful and useful device. The possibilities for this one are literally endless.
Single Purchase Gaming
Buy one game for your home console, get it for your portable, no charge. This has to start to come into effect as the technological gap has closed between the home experience and portable experience. That would bring us one step closer to carrying our games everywhere we go and, more importantly, convince people that the value of a portable console could not be any greater.
This will not happen for a long while, but it will one day happen (it could actually come sooner if the portable market does collapse). The single console revolution is a long time away, but it will be very real one day. The ability to play Ratchet and Clank, then jump over to Halo, and finish up with Mario Bros.—I get giddy thinking about the possibilities.
I hope nobody got too excited since the future is still just a dream and will not exist for a while yet. With that said, it’s time to ends this trilogy and patiently wait until the 3DS next month, and wait until NGP comes out, hopefully, later this year.