Why the current generation of portable gaming handhelds will be the last

I just wrote up a big comment on G+ (which you should follow me on if you don’t) about why this is the last generation of portable handhelds. Even prior to the recent kickstarter success of the ‘OUYA’ gaming system I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of an Android powered gaming system.

While I don’t think the OUYA is a great idea, I do think it will capitalize on the shift from console gaming to PC gaming.

The current generation of handhelds (3DS and Vita) will be the last generation of portable consoles for a few reasons

  1. Because phones get massive hardware upgrades every 3-6 months whereas portables get upgrades every 3+ years. To this point, the HTC One X is already a few months old and it has the same amount of processing power as the the Vita, a quad core CPU, with 12 core GPU and 1GB of ram. Not to mention, fantastic screen and rear camera, and 3G capabilities and cheaper to boot (on contract of course)

  2. Because phones are subsidies, they are cheap to get new on contract, and cheap to pick up second hand, for example you can buy a Galaxy S2 for $300 or less, which is about what a Vita costs.

  3. Since phone allow you to comunnicate with others, phones are noramlly seen as a primary portable device, so not everyone can afford to spend $600 on an iPhone then spend another $400 on a Vita (with games and such)

  4. Games for portables are expensive, $40 and up, whereas the most expesive android game is $15, while most games cost about $2

  5. easier access to content, games can be downloaded directy from the market to your phone, while being billed to your phone bill allowing people without credit cards to buy games whenever they want

I believe that the ubiquity of modern superphones will continue to drive developers away from tradition gaming consoles towards cheaper phones, due to again their prevalence in the market and the low barrier to entry for to develop on.

With all the resulting cheap games, people will want an easy way to play these games at home on the big screen as well as running multiplayer with their friends.

I believe google will soon launch a save game syncing platform, and a game scoreboard system that will integrate into google+, with the addition of these two features, the OUYA will be perfect because you’ll be able to buy a $2 game on the market for your phone, play on your phone a bit then come home and play on the big screen with your OUYA.

Also, once this idea becomes popular with the general public, I think that there will be more consoles like the OUYA and manufacturers will ship HDMI docks with their phones so that this can be done. It can already be done but there is a few more things that need to be in place to make it accessible to normal people, and profitable for devs, but I think it will happen.