Portable gaming has become a staple to handheld gaming. For a lot of us it is hard to remember a time where we didn’t have such a portable option for gaming. From the rise of single game devices to the Gameboy all the way to literal portable gaming consoles, portable consoles have gone through a lot of changes. One of the biggest changes is its slow march to death.
One of the biggest contributors to Nintendo’s success and Sony’s failure in the portable gaming market is having signature games. Nintendo had select titles that you could only play on their systems but they also realized that you needed games specifically for their portable consoles. Titles such as Pokémon where usually available on the gameboy then later the DS.
Sony however was an example of the opposite. Sony had little to no games the were exclusive to their PsP, they often used their portable consoles as testing grounds for their playstation games. This especially the case for their PSVita as most of the games offered on the vita are available in playstation form. One big example of this is the Gravity Rush series, the first installment was available on the Vita. It was popular enough to get a sequel but it was only released on the playstation 4. This brings us to our first problem, what is the point of buying the portable when you could just buy the console and get the same games or more?
Nintendo over the years has mastered the ability to stay culturally relevant. Nintendo has built a fan base for both of their gaming consoles, with current crossover because Switch.This was achieved in multiple ways described in this article but one of the biggest is by having consistent release schedule. This is not only yearly release of new consoles but also in the regular release of the new titles. Nintendo by having a set release schedule makes it easier for studios to adapt to making games for these consoles. This helped them to become the staple in potable gaming community they are today.
Sony on the other hand, had a much harder time with staying relevant. As much as I love the PSP, they did take a pretty long break from the world of portable gaming. They had stop making and selling games/movie for the PSP in the U.S market long before the creation of the PSP go. With their most recent failures of the PSPgo,Ericsson Xperia Play,and the potential failure of the PSVita; Sony put themselves in a hard spot to continue being having success in portable gaming.
Game Selection And Access
The one thing that’s been emphasized throughout this article is the importance of having access to games. If you don’t have any games to play what’s the point of buying the system. Having a wide selection of titles for consumers to choose from just means that you can target a larger audience. Sony when it comes to their PlayStation titles has a wide variety of games to choose from in most retailers. Recently, with their PS Vita titles there is very few options in stores. Nintendo though they have a wide variety of games. When it comes to shelf space, more space is given to their Switch titles. Now with the switch being as successful as it is, that makes sense. It does leave those who have their 3Ds in the dust when it comes to in-store purchase.
One of the biggest gripes with Sony’s consoles has been its lack of of backwards compatibility. Once the new console is released games stop developing for the old one real quick. Which lead to a problem as the new system can’t read the old system disk. This is especially a problem with the portable consoles. After the PSP go came out, there was no way to play PSP titles if you didn’t own the actual system. Though Sony promised to finish unloading the titles on to the PlayStation network with the release of the PSVita, they never completed the task. What was even worse is the fact you would have to rebuy the game again. That combined with most of the games available for the device available is PlayStation format, make it hard to find a reason to purchase. This making it hard to make sales. Nintendo is now in a similar position with the change over from the wii to the switch. Though only time will tell if they also dip in sales, it looks unlikely. With new titles being released in stores on a almost weekly bases, it looks like they may be able to succeed.
Can It Be Saved?
Though it sound like I am a completely biased to Nintendo, that isn’t case. I am a huge fan of the PSPs, current favorite being the PSVita of course. Their design and features make the system a joy to play but certain business decisions makes it hard for them to be as successful as they could be. The question on how successful portable gaming will be depends on their future decisions. Who knows, maybe a surprising challenger will make an appearance soon.