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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Die Videogame industry, Die! - part 3 - respect for handhelds

Part 3 of a 10 part series about why I want the video game industry to implode, causing massive layoffs & putting most devs out of business so that the industry can come back much better than it currently is.

So many things are wrong with the video game industry right now... one of them has to be the sheer lack or respect for handheld gaming.

Handheld consoles have been around for a long time, mostly Nintendo's market-dominating Game Boy line. Traditionally, Game Boy and handheld gaming in general has been seen as for little kids or an accessory for the completist, hardcore gamer. Even though there are some involved & "deeper" Game Boy games, overall they're always seen as automatically on a lower tier of importance to full-sized console gaming.

Which was fair enough.... Game Boy Advance graphics & production couldn't reach the level of the home consoles at the time: PS2, GameCube, Xbox. Unfortunately, the way the devs/pubs think about handhelds was maybe true over 5 years ago. They're stuck in the past, to a way of thinking that hasn't been relevant for the last 3-4 years. Since the release of the DS and PSP, handheld gaming consoles have evolved to a new level. I don't deny that it's still a different level than home consoles, even those older ones listed above. They can't/shouldn't be compared directly in terms of production values. What really bugs me is that no one in the industry is really taking seriously the huge sales & ownership bases of the portable consoles-- their sales are rivaling and SURPASSING home consoles.

I could *maybe* understand the lack of respect for the PSP; there's always the "declining sales/piracy/just not as popular as the DS" excuse that too many use to dismiss it, even though the PSP is currently Sony's best selling console, outselling the PS3 and PS2. But the DS often tops the list of consoles--both portable & home-- sold. Yet it *still* doesn't get its due from reviewers/bloggers/developers/publishers... it's just seen as a nice bonus or something. #1 and it still can't get any notice from creative-minded game developers? What does a handheld need to do?

The so-called hardcore just doesn't get it, and neither do game devs & publishers... that portable gaming is a new beast, that's growing by leaps & bounds DESPITE their (lack of) efforts not because of it. They blame it on "casual gamers"... because that's a convenient term that can be slotted anywhere yet doesn't have to mean anything. Developers & publishers think there are 2 kinds of gamers, to them hardcore=no money, and casual=stupid. Since they think casuals are driving the handheld gaming boom, they release tons & tons of DS shovelware (and used to release tons & tons of lame PS2-to-PSP ports)... when you throw a wall of crap at a successful selling system, of course there's some money that's going to be made. It doesn't mean that we DON'T want good games though. Games that play to the strengths of the system they're made for, and are DIFFERENT than all the other generic trendy games that keep coming out.

It's nice to have some connection between them, but handhelds are NOT an accessory item to a larger console. Lots of people have a handheld system as their ONLY system. These owners still count. And they're growing. The industry needs to push the production quality of their handheld games with the same fervor they apply to the full-sized console games.... or just give up and die.

Just show some respect & understanding already.


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