Although noticeably smaller, the handheld market has always been a key part of of the console sector and has given rise to some of the biggest names in gaming history – in the nineties, we saw the introduction of the various Gameboy offerings and the birth of the Pokémon games on handheld devices which has eventually led us to our modern consoles such as the Switch and the popularity that holds. Similarly, we’ve seen others get into the market too with offerings such as the PS Vita which made strides in changing the entire handheld market, itself leading to the growth of modern popular titles such as the Monster Hunter series – but could this era of handheld consoles soon be over?
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So who’s the contender? The change may come about by the widespread growth of mobile gaming. Currently making up over 50% of the gaming sector, it’s perhaps moving in a way that most didn’t expect it could, capturing an expanding audience as it begins to boast a wider user demographic than other platforms. Not to say that it will ever replace handheld gaming completely, there will likely always be a market there, but it may do its part in hurting the next-gen of devices – by removing a barrier to entry, in this case, the cost of the console, it makes the games on these devices much more accessible to a wider audience, and whilst the games that are available on mobile devices aren’t anywhere near as complex or polished, with a growing audience and renewed focus this will continue to change as the games get better. It brings into question – what is the need to spend a few hundred bucks on a new handheld every few years when you’re able to get even a somewhat similar experience on your mobile device?
This may also change the profile of games that are played on mobile devices – currently, one of the fastest-growing genres on mobile is seen within betting and casino sites due to their hyper-casual nature but have faced difficulties recently – the UK has recently introduced an initiative called Gamstop which has been aimed at reducing the participation options for these problem gamers, to provide a place for these players to go this list of non gamstop football betting sites show how quickly changes can be made to suit an audience need.
Whilst we’ve seen the next generation of big consoles in the PS5 and Xbox offerings, we’re yet to see the next big strides in handheld gaming – the biggest recent release in the Switch is only three years old, however, so the lifespan of what is ‘current-gen’ in handheld gaming is still long. In order to really recapture the market, there will need to be some big moves that really shake up what people expect – but as it currently stands, it seems the future of the mobile sector is solidly planted in mobile devices and possibly will be unlikely to ever change unless a cheaper, widespread alternative becomes available.