A Eulogy for a Great Pocket-Sized Gaming Device

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There is one big problem with video games: people don’t take them seriously. The game development software market alone is worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year, the video games market – across all platforms – is worth billions, and let’s not even go into the insane amount people spend on gaming hardware today. And still, many dismiss video gaming as a childish, light-minded form of entertainment. This in spite of the fact that science has proven gaming to have many benefits, from FPS games improving the players’ hand-eye coordination to blackjack helping people become successful businessmen. And this is especially true for pocket-sized gaming devices.

Good-Bye, PS Vita

The first truly successful handheld game console was the Game Boy, released by Nintendo in 1989. Since then, the devices themselves – and the games – have evolved a great deal, reaching a pinnacle with the PlayStation Vita, Sony’s latest take on the pocket gaming market. Upon its release, the PS Vita was a great gaming device and came with a vast collection of games – it was fully compatible with all the games released for its predecessor, the PlayStation Portable, and it was even capable of running games made for the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 consoles – and some PlayStation 4 games, too, through Remote Play.

By all accounts, the PS Vita was destined for success. Unfortunately, it was “born” at the wrong time. Back in 2011, when it was first released, it had the configuration of a high-end smartphone with its quad-core ARM CPU, 5″ screen, and 512 MB of RAM. As time passed, in turn, it was unable to keep up the pace with the ever-improving smartphone specs. Its predecessor, the PlayStation Portable (PSP) sold more than 80 million units before being discontinued in 2014. The PS Vita, in turn, sold only about 16 million. And its production officially ended this March, with no plans from Sony to produce a replacement.

Pocket gaming is not dead!

By phasing out the PS Vita, Sony has officially left the handheld gaming market – for now, at least. This doesn’t mean, in turn, that pocket gaming is dead. On the contrary – it is bigger than ever.

On one hand, we have Nintendo’s insanely successful Switch console that can work both as a pocket-sized gaming device and a “desktop” one. While its specs are by far not as impressive as those of its competitors, the PS4 and the Xbox, its unique approach to gaming (and the titles available for it) make it a great device for casual gamers. On the other, we have the ever-increasing number of smartphones that will continue to carry the torch.

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