As a perpetual tightwad I have always been very selective about my game system and game purchases. It’s one of the reason I love GameFly. It’s also one of the reasons I’ve never owned a hand-held system. Well, that’s not entirely true. My wife got a DS back in the day but I never got around to buying games for it. I also hate games on my cellphone, again mostly because they cost money to buy, then more money to download. Also, for a very long time they had Gameboy or slightly better graphics. The games themselves often had no depth and were nothing more than “click here faster” experiences. Of course all that is changing at a rapid pace. The iPhone brought unique user input and advanced graphics not to mention online multiplayer capabilities.According to emarketer.com the mobile gaming industry has grown exponentially since 2000 and now mobile game sales are only out paced by console games. And, if you’re to believe everything you read on the internet, mobile games already out sell console games in Japan, a country where tiny computers that fit in the palm of your hand and work great on the crowded Tokyo train system. So, OK, the iPhone has made mobile gaming cheaper and slightly more fun with a lot of quirky casual games, but it still not enough for me.
Well, that’s where I was until a Software reviews by Maddy article caught my eye. Microsoft announced at Gamescom in Germany earlier this month that their new operating system for cellphones, Windows Phone 7, will include xboxlive. What now? As Maddy details, the launch includes a full complement of 63 games ranging from typical mobile casual games to hardcore titles like Assassins Creed, Castlevania, and Crackdown 2. The system will have multiplayer capabilities as well as a host of other xboxlive-esque features. No mention of achievements yet, but how else will they addict us to otherwise silly in-game accomplishments?
Sony has also been rumored to be working phone and 3G capabilities for the PSP 2.0. Nothing has been confirmed but it would seem like a logical step. Playstation has had a firm taken the reigns from the Sega Gamegear in terms of technological advancement, so it’s a safe bet any phone they produce will have the highest tech specs and therefore the best graphics. The question is how will this resonate with users.
Personally, if I’m going to get a phone that plays games I’m going to be looking for a small computer that gives me plenty of access to my precious internet in addition to playing games, texting, and making phone calls. I’m also a big fan of the multi-touch user interface and the gyroscopic input included in the iPhone and iPod touch and that is something Windows Phone is capable of, but it’s not a technology I have seen Playstation utilize before. The idea of naturally scrolling through worlds and commanding heroes with my fingers is very intuitive and it does make the game more fun to me.
One of the major drawbacks with mobile gaming is online connectivity and multiplayer interaction. Microsoft has already said the xbox titles will be turn based multiplayer right out of the gate and maybe someday we’ll see realtime multiplayer over a 3G, or by then 5G?, network. The iPhone already has several games with 3G multiplayer capabilities so they still have the leg up there.
So will mobile gaming overtake console gaming as our community’s interaction of choice? I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Mobile devices are making leaps and bounds daily in the graphics department and the length department, but consoles are busy working on 3D and expansive multiplayer. Then again, if cutting edge graphics and massive multiplayer interaction is what it’s all about for you, you should be on a computer anyway. I’m not all that thrilled about 3D gaming right now, but that’s a topic for another time. Let’s just say for the time being I’m content with my 360.