We live in a world where tech is constantly getting both smaller and easy to use as well as larger and more complicated to use. When it comes to mobile gaming (i.e. PlayStation Vita and iPhone/Android games), developers need to find a common balance between the two that will appeal to customers with both pricing and functionality.
We’re almost there, but not quite. In terms of practicality, mobile gaming has made grand leaps and strides, even in just the past 5 years. We’ve moved on from the clunky, full-of-odd-decisions PlayStation Portable to the advanced, powerful PlayStation Vita. We’ve gone from playing Snake on our flip-phone to controlling our Xbox with our smartphone. We’ve found out ways to take what used to be exclusively a home-only entertainment (gaming) and make the mobile market an equal (and sometimes greater) success than its counterpart. Truly, we’ve come a long way. But there’s always room for improvement.
Take the PS Vita for example. Yes, it’s great that they finally decided to add a second analog stick to the device, making it what we all wanted the PSP to be. Yes, it’s great that it sports the most powerful processor ever seen in a gaming-dedicated mobile device. Yes, it’s great that it sports a full touchscreen for added capability. But despite all of these innovations, the PS Vita has introduced a new batch of issues that were certainly not intended but are important to recognize if we wish to continue moving forward in our quest to merge gaming and mobility flawlessly.
One of these issues is introduced with the inclusion of apps in the PS Vita’s interface. While apps and touchscreens seem to not exist without each other, companies that integrate an app system face a challenge that has the potential to cripple the entire service: third-party support. For example, Windows Phones are the least popular of the three major types (Android, iOS) of operating systems largely because they have a minuscule amount of apps available on Microsoft’s almost non-existent app store. People simply don’t develop apps for the weakest link, because they know they’ll get more money selling their work on juggernaut app stores like Apple’s and Android’s. It’s a cruel cycle, but that’s how it works, and that’s why Windows Phones are being demolished by bigger, more popular brands.
The same goes for the apps for the PS Vita: one of the major complaints about the device were lack of apps, besides your basic SONY-included ones, along with Facebook, etc. It turned a big marketing-focus of the Vita into one that is rarely used by the customers who bought the handheld.
Another problem with gaming, specifically the Vita (for lack of other devices to talk about) is the size of dedicated mobile platforms. While it’s safe to assume that these will consistently shrink, it needs to be said that the Vita is somewhat of a chore to fit in your pocket, as is is much larger and thicker than a phone, but smaller than a tablet. Once again, I know that it makes up for it with the powerful components packed inside its bulky exterior. I’m just pointing out that it should be made aware to potential buyers that it is almost guaranteed that a smaller, more capable model will be announced this year as a successor to the original, as technology has the trend of doing. Because of this, waiting for the later model instead of getting the first-ever of a device is a VERY smart consumer decision. But hey, that could be an entirely separate blog.
We’ve come a long way in gaming, both at home and on the go. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.