Handheld Replacement Plan [ COMIC ]

I can’t believe it has been almost six months since the previous consoles installment…AND for that matter, almost six years since the very first one. Time does fly…

So this comic claims that smartphones are replacing the handheld game consoles. That would definitely make for an interesting conversation, but I have a better one: Smartphones are replacing the personal computer as the new personal computer.

Okay maybe smartphones is a little too narrow, but smart devices most definitely. Think about it. At the end of 2011 there was 5.9 billion mobile cellular subscriptions, but only 591 million fixed broadband subscriptions [1]. Now not all of those subscriptions are smart phones or smart devices, but a good portion are and their numbers are steadily growing.

I just find it funny that while gamers were sitting around arguing consoles vs. PCs the world was choosing smart devices. Dammit, world!

Eh, maybe mobile gaming will get better. I mean overall mobile games may not be as verbose or polished as their console/PC brethren…But they can get better, right? Then again, when games about throwing fowl at swines to retrieve eggs sell over 500 million copies I don’t see this trend changing anytime soon. I said, “Dammit, world!” already. Right?


  • Phaelin

    Dammit, world!

  • thewood

    For the mobile/cellular subscriptions you should be looking at data plan subscriptions instead. A lot of those are people who just have cellphones, not smartphones. Also, add on to the broadband subscriptions all the people who take their laptops to the nearest free hotspot for their internet. I think the actual numbers are not quite as spread out as you think.

    • True, but most of those people who use hotspots will still use their computers at home. As far as the subscriptions, even if you cut the number in half there’s still a vast difference. Plus, a lot of the people who have fixed broadband could also have smart tablets that could connect to the network via wi-fi and that would adds to the mobile side.

  • Da Mighty Camel

    I think the laptop will be officially “dead” when a smart device (such as a tablet) is fully capable of replacing them. At the moment the most basic method of input (typing) on tablets is nowhere near the practically and ease of use of regular analogue keyboards.

    I have a hard time imagining that smart devices will be capable of winning over the entire “gamer audience” when one of the most fundamental devices we use to play games is still firmly non-touch, non-digital.

    • Nyuuchan353

      Touch-pad controller anyone? Eh? (Oh, and FTR, I am typing this message on a laptop!

  • O=(‘-‘Q)

    I have an iPhone, a 3DS, and a PSP (maybe I vita soon, not sure yet). While gaming on my smart phone is nice, I don’t see it as a replacement to my handheld games. Since I tend to carry around both a smart phone and one of my handhelds, I might whip out my smartphone to just waste time, but if I’m in the mood to play something then I’ll definitely pull out the handheld. Gaming on handhelds is pretty much just better. Have you ever tried to play one of the smartphone games that try to have controls on the screen like a handheld? That must be designed for people under 5′ because my thumbs take up 1/3 of the screen playing those which is incredibly stupid. The only games I see smart phones currently replacing are the flash games most people used to play online but now only a minority do.

  • thewood

    You also have the fact that most smart phones, as well as most tablets, only get the “watered-down” version of the internet because their browsers are crap. Even the iPad. Some of the other Tabs get the real net, but none of them are nearly as popular as iPad.
    Another thing, speaking purely as a PC laptop user, even the most powerful tablet out there doesn’t even compare to my laptop. I’ve got 4 cores, HD graphics, blue ray player, built-in subwoofer, and a 17.5 inch screen I don’t need binoculars to see. I can do more things, do them faster, and have 500 GB to save files on. I think before tablets can overcome laptops, the nex big fad will be out and Tabs will fall behind. And yes, that does mean I think tablets are a fad.

    • thewood

      And the only thing smart phones will replace in normal cellphones. Even then, that will only happen when they start giving free data plans, or stop selling other types of cellphone. Data plans are way too expensive.

  • Smart devices cannot compete against the personal computer. They may compete in number of users perhaps but that may be because those users are usually using someone else’s computer instead of their own.

    The thing about personal computers you see, is that it is not bound to a certain form factor. If your smart device becomes as powerful and as versatile as a personal computer, it is a personal computer. Like some have said before me, the most powerful smart devices need to have games built around their hardware limitations. Personal computers are so versatile, they don’t have hardware limitations.

    When you want to game on the best game there is available, barring platform exclusives of course, where do you run to? The argument of a couch and big TV is no longer applicable because the PC can do that. Portability? Well Razer has a prototype of a PC tablet with gamepad bits on it.

    PC isn’t dying. Don’t fall into that misconception. Actually, consoles and phones are slowly turning into PCs.

    The laptop is the perfect form factor for doing most types of computing work on the go. When we talk about the death of the desktop PC though, you have to ask yourself one thing. If you want the most powerful hardware available to a consumer, what will be the likely form factor? Of course the one where no compromise is made just to shrink or reduce weight on performance parts. Hello Desktop PC.

  • Todes

    i think if they made a decent and functional roll-out or fold-out keypad that could connect to a smart device, and a stable/cheap solid state storage device that game companies could market with, the personal computer could well die. until then? probably not gonna happen.

  • Pie

    I’d just like to point out that even though Angry Birds can be reduced to “throwing fowl at swines to retrieve eggs” we can just as easily reduce Super Mario Bros. to “mushroom-loving plumbers rescuing a princess from a turtle.” It’s not the premise we should worry about so much as the play mechanic, and frankly, in my experience the biggest problem with mobile games are the limited controls. There are ways of simplifying control schemes, sure, but that can only work for so many genres, and there are still plenty of games that will only survive on gaming consoles and PC. And as long as we continue to support these games, mobile games will never monopolize the market.

    ..or maybe I’m the one missing the point here. Super Mario Bros. DID sell well at the time. Maybe wacky premises ARE the secret to successful games!

  • Cody Shiranai

    I was literally in this situation and I chose normal handheld.

    Due to a situation with my ex, I had to pawn my 3DS and was just using my Android for my gaming (aside from my laptop) and I can tell you I was DYING… there are some interesting experiences can have on a phone just because you can’t believe it has come this far… BUT (and I hate to say it these words) “real” gamers need real games and interfaces to play them on. I can only play Inotia 3 and Tiny Tower on my phone as a distraction, but I will need and play Zelda OoT, Metal Gear Solid 3D Snake Eater and Resident Evil: Revelations much longer and will be far more satisfied.

    Besides… if the world was truly right and smart about anything, America wouldn’t have voted for Bush TWICE and gay marriage wouldn’t be (once again) trumping the bleeding economy and 4 wars as the Issue of the Day. Maybe the popular majority isn’t quite so on the money, just putting their money in it.

    Full disclosure, I have had every Nintendo handheld except the GB Pocket, the GBA Micro and the Virtual Boy, I owned a PSP from 2008 to 2010 (it was stolen) and at least enjoyed it for what it was, my first Android phone was only last year (the Fascinate Galaxy S variant under Verizon) and I am up for my upgrade as of the end of this month. I am my first choice (unless I suddenly get the $300 bucks to play with for a Galaxy Nexus) is the Samsung Droid Charge and hope it gets ICS, but my second choice is to get the Xperia Play because it’s currently FREE under Verizon and that would really test my theory of gaming on a phone when that can do all of the above and PS1 and emulators with BUTTONS. However, something tells me I’ll still prefer my 3DS to my phone if for no reason then I can play games on there that I can’t on a phone… and I would like to save my phone battery for my phone CALLS.

    • Cody Shiranai

      Oh, I forgot to mention I got my 3DS back about 3 weeks ago, hence being able to play MGS, RE-R and Zelda, and I was very happy to pre-order Kid Icarus for this month.

  • Yukikah

    Not gonna happen; a truly great game system requires different things than a great cellphone, or a great web surfing device. They can fiddle around with things all they want, but they can’t make a device that is great as a phone, texting device, game system, and computer. Maybe great at two of them, MAYBE three, but not all.

    Example; A company finds out a way to make a tablet like device that can run games that are at least somewhat graphically intensive. To make sure it’s gamer friendly, they make sure it’s not too large so it can be comfortably held in the hands, but also not too small as to make games hard to see. It proves to be really good as a gaming machine. The device also works for calls, texts, and web surfing though. It proves popular for texting with it’s touch screen keyboard, but it’s hardly optimal for any of those other uses. As a phone, it’s bigger than a regular cellphone or iphone so is more bulky to carry. And with its higher end processing capabilities, bright large screen, and top notch sound it eats up battery power much faster than a normal cell phone. As far as surfing the web, one might think the high end capabilities and nice touch keyboard make it work well for that, but the problem ends up being that when the keyboard is on the screen it takes up half of it. That means the large screen is wasted and people surfing end up with a smaller display than other smartphones. The company could have included a slide out keyboard or something of the sort, but that would have added more weight and size to the already substantial device…

    So yeah; square peg, round hole. Like I said though, I’m sure they’ll get closer and closer to having a device that can really be great at a couple of these, but for the picky (and there will always be picky people) they’ll always want separate devices for some of these things.

    Oh, and non-phone wise, I can already see laptops turning slowly into tablets, and vice versa. Look up “laptop tablet hybrid” or “laptop tablet combo” on Google and you’ll see some of the examples that are already coming out. As long as they can keep the best of both worlds, allowing the tablet to be completely functional independently and keeping the laptop able to do what we expect a laptop to do, I don’t see why this wouldn’t take off.

  • Vortex

    I can’t believe it has been almost a month without an original (non-guest) comic from Steve Napierski. Too long some might say…

  • mobile gaming will never fully abolish console gaming, why you ask? because prefer a large screen compared to a small screen (yes a 40 inch HD TV is 100% better than an ipad screen). and touch screens aren’t as good as a controler. that’s just my two cents, take it, buy some candy.

  • Ivan Montes

    The Key word here is O.S , the operative system it will be running whether is android or iOS or some windows mobile version , android like iOS the “watered down ” internet explorer that runs on them can be easily replaced with a better version of some third party developer ,but is still not as good as the windows or mac operative systems because they run with more resources than the ones on tables or smart phones .
    For gaming the consoles will never be replaced because smart phones lack of input methods such a joystick and shoulder buttons , i recently bought an xperia play phone and is really amazing for gaming ( for emulators is perfect ) but still the touch pads it has are awful they aren’t as responsive as the buttons and playing with the touch screen is fun until you play some game with lots of buttons on it and if you play you block yourself a big chunk of the screen ,that is all i have to say for now .

  • Chrisgui

    I’ll believe that mobile devices will replace gaming PCs when games look and play better on mobile devices. This is not impossible: http://www.gadgetreview.com/2011/09/sony-hmz-t1.html I might be possible to wirelessly connect a head mounted display to a mobile device.