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Is There A Place for Dedicated Handheld Gaming?
Long gone are the days that many of us will remember with battery powered Gameboys and blowing the cartridges to get the games to work properly once again, mobile for the most part had come along and taken the wind out of the sails for handheld devices as some of the biggest genres took advantage of the huge gap that handheld couldn't fill. Whilst there is once saving grace in the Nintendo Switch which continues to remain the most popular dedicated console on the market, and whilst it continues to succeed it is now starting to age with no sight of a replacement handheld option in mind – if Nintendo are planning to release a follow up device, there's a lot to contend with and a lot to keep in mind, but is there a place for a dedicated handheld system?
(Image from popularmechanics.com)
A tactile desire – One of the big pros for handheld devices often comes from the tactility of having buttons to push and sticks to move around – this has often been a big complaint for mobile players as the smooth glass screens often don't provide enough feedback. Although there are peripherals that can be bought to solve this issue, it may be a continued problem until a longer term more suitable solution can be found.
Gaming choices on offer – Mobile games still largely remain a little rudimentary too, without the ability to push for something a little more due to hardware capabilities. Although they have been able to capture some of the nostalgia vote with emulations and roms to run older games, newer ones still remain off limits, and this is still a space where dedicated consoles will continue to find their success as hardware in mobile catches up.
A desire for something new – It's also important to consider that many players simply just want something new – it doesn't necessarily have to be a better option, but the opportunity to have something new to explore has a draw in itself. It had been what allowed the Switch to continue finding success by delivering new takes on older classics, and by being a known name in a space where there was a huge gap, the success was easy to find – the question to ask is whether or not history will repeat itself now mobile gaming is much bigger than it was a few years ago when the Switch first released.
Only time will tell whether dedicated handheld platforms will make a comeback, but if the current numbers are anything to go on then there's no slowing mobile down, and the opportunity for dedicated platforms in the space may be slowly closing over time.