5 Reasons Why Handheld Gaming Continues to Thrive

Feb 1, 2020 | 1 Votes by Mikhail 10 rate Your vote
Even in the age of mobile gaming, powerful consoles and gaming PCs, handheld gaming consoles continue to thrive today. Here’s why: WWGDB - 5 Reasons Why Handheld Gaming Continues to Thrive

Although people mostly play on consoles and PCs, handheld gaming continues to thrive. And no, we’re not talking about mobile gaming: we’re referring to handheld consoles. Sure, mobile devices are handheld, but they’re quite different if you look at their game library and in their audiences. Mobile gaming is more inclusive and caters to people who may not consider themselves full-fledged gamers.

Even if today’s choice of handheld consoles is fairly limited, why does it continue to thrive even with the entry of mobile devices? Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why:


If Nintendo thrives, so will the handheld industry

Nintendo has always been the leader in handheld gaming whereas Sony’s competitiveness sputtered out, considering they’re no longer supporting the PS Vita which was actually a pretty good handheld.

Some of Nintendo’s biggest exclusive franchises are handheld, including Pokemon, The Legend of Zelda, and Fire Emblem. Even their 9th-generation console, the Nintendo Switch, is a hybrid which some consider as the successor to the 3DS, especially with the introduction of the handheld-only Lite version. Given that the company will continue churning out top-notch exclusives and great hardware, their fanbase will continue to bite. As a result, handheld gaming will continue to thrive.

Handheld games > mobile games

Games made for handheld devices are always better

I’ll be extremely honest: mobile games aren’t exactly up-to-par with most handheld games. Though there are those that stand out and are up to par with triple-A titles, most are mediocre pieces of re-skinned shovelware that are focused on ad and microtransaction revenue. Note that there are some mobile games ported over to consoles like the Nintendo Switch, and most are just...terrible.

Meanwhile, handheld games on the Switch and the PS Vita are a far cry compared to their mobile counterparts. Sure, there are some bad games, but most are well-made. Plus, you have to put into account exclusive games/franchises. For example, Nintendo has Pokemon, The Legend of Zelda, and Super Smash Brothers while the PS Vita had Persona 4 Golden, and Uncharted game, and Freedom Wars. It’s also important to take into account that a lot of big money studios and publishers create titles for these platforms.

There are games that are a perfect fit for handhelds

I can't imagine playing Stardew Valley on a console or PC

There are titles that are natural fits to handheld devices, especially RPGs, card-based games, puzzle titles, and rather relaxing games. Playing them on a console and PC just doesn’t feel right at all. Examples include titles like Stardew Valley, Persona 4 Golden, games in the Pokemon franchise, and those with turn-based combat.

Just imagine sitting there for a few hours tending to a farm in Stardew Valley on a PS4. It just feels wrong and it’s better played on a handheld. They’re a great way to kill time and in a way, are perfect games to play if you want to relax and calm your nerves before bed.

Game streaming

PS Vita has a nifty remote play feature

Game streaming service was a thing even before Google Stadia and other subscription services, though not in its current form. The PlayStation Vita has the Remote Play feature where you stream your games directly from your PS4 directly to the handheld which comes in handy if you’d like to play in bed or if someone has to use the TV. Personally, I’ve used this feature extensively when Persona 5 came out. Despite the differences in hardware, it streamed well and played beautifully.

More recently, the industry has the lesser-known Nvidia Shield which can stream PC games. In any case, we’ll likely see more devices like this in future, especially as internet connection improves. Who knows, maybe a portable console that’s able to use streaming services like PSNow could be a thing in the future.

Portability and convenience

Alienware's portable console is coming

Finally, the main reason why handheld games (and the mobile platform) continue to thrive is its portability and convenience. It’s worth noting that in Japan, people prefer handheld consoles because of these attributes. Even gamers in the aforementioned country have an extremely busy lifestyle where the only opportunity to play games is during long commutes on the train and/or during breaks. You don’t have to sit down and spend extremely long hours to play continuously. You can pick up a game where you left off, entertain yourself during boring breaks and commutes and enjoy.

We’ve already ushered in the new gaming generation with the Nintendo Switch and though handheld gaming will undoubtedly take the backseat as soon as the new Xbox and PlayStation hit the markets, it will continue to thrive. There’s a huge demand for handheld devices and games, considering that it’s a perfect solution to certain types of lifestyles. Moreover, Alienware’s new handheld may hit the markets in the next generation, enabling you to play PC games portable device.

So, do you think handheld gaming will stay strong or will it become a footnote in the industry?

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