Mobile gaming, portable gaming and The Switch

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Mobile gaming, portable gaming and The Switch

Postby scotland » October 24th, 2016, 9:39 am

While we are still learning what The Switch is and isn't, we do know its portable and tablet sized. We also know Nintendo's relationship with a mobile game developer, DeNA, and the wild success of mobile Pokemon Go from a different developer. The new 3DS was only sold as XL in the West, and the XL has been outselling the smaller version in Japan.

I like video games, and I have kids. I have some disposable income, and I already own a mobile phone, a tablet, and a PC or Laptop. I think this may describe many potential Nintendo customers. Here are some personal thoughts.

1. Mobile gaming is okay, but just okay. I don't denigate mobile gaming as always being cheap low quality gaming, but it has limitations. Some genres do well on mobile, some less well. On the plus, my phone is always on me, the occasional game does come around I like, and I hand it to kids when we are out for them to play on. On the negative, space on a phone is limited, as is battery life, so I don't want big games when I need space for photos and battery life , I am often looking for a game I like on mobile too. Contrast that to my backlog of portable games, or list of 'may buy' portable games.

2. I play more mobile games on my tablet than my phone. My tablet is better for gaming, and I don't use it for photos. Its a secondary device. If it runs out of battery, thats annoying but not like my phone running out. However, the tablet is not always with me. I would need to have a backpack with me to justify taking it along. The same is true for my portables though. I don't go around with a 3DS in my pocket. However, if I were a mass transit commuter, I expect I would have a backpack.

3. I do play mobile and portable games around the house, such as a porch or bedroom. This allows others to use a tv or read or do homework, but I can still be there gaming. I can move from place to place, and still play the same game. This may be uncommon behavior. When I travel, I bring a portable with me, but it has to compete with a tablet too.

4. Portable games are generally better, but not 10 times better. I can get one portable game for $40, but that same amont would get me several humble bundles of games or downloads from the app store. There is something fun in having a variety of games, and risking $4 is very different from $40. There are plenty of portable games I regret buying and remember it, where a bad mobile game slips out of mind. There is some psychology at play here. If you are charging $40, it better deliver.

5. Weight and form factor matters - My favorite portable is the SP backlit. Small, clamshell, good battery life, plays the GBA library...its sweet. I have a DS Lite, which plays the GBA and DS library, but its less comfortable. I don't want to deal with a stylus because I need two hands to hold the DS Lite. The GBA carts stick out the bottom in a very ugly way, and it feels heavy compared to the SP. My tablet feels lighter, and no clumsy stylus, so I choose my tablet over the DS Lite *if* I have a relatively decent game to play.

I like Nintendo, and The Switch sounds right up my alley, so I am cautiously optimistic. Does anyone here game about the house? Mobile game on phone or tablet? Like their GBA, DS, or 3DS? Any opinions?

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Re: Mobile gaming, portable gaming and The Switch

Postby Rookie1 » October 24th, 2016, 11:29 am

I have never been a fan of games on my phone, and havent really played anything strictly on the go in decades. I own a PSP, but funny enough I really only play it when I am at home on the couch. I have taken it with me on trips, and never end up using it. I have a few games on my laptop, and again, only play them when I am at home on the couch. My gameboy has been in its original box for years, and any games usually get played on my super gameboy or my gamecube.

The Switch is a cool concept, but would be ultimately lost on me. It would be a dedicated console on my TV, and may come out of the dock every now and then if I really wanted to play something in bed, or if my son wanted to watch a movie or something.

I am curious to see if the switch has a 3G service to play multiplayer on the go?

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Re: Mobile gaming, portable gaming and The Switch

Postby tortimer » October 24th, 2016, 1:42 pm

I'm also cautiously optimistic about the Switch. Any "portable" handheld for me is a device that I can play anywhere in the house. I can't remember the last time I played on a dedicated portable while traveling and have only ever carried around my 3DS when I happen to have a bag to carry it in (and that only for collecting Streetpass tags). As an aside, this is the reason why Streetpass needs to be a dedicated phone app that lets you transfer your tags to the device when you get home - my phone is always with me, my 3DS is not.

Even so, my favorite platform for many years now has been dedicated portables (Game Boy Advance, DS and now 3DS). There's something so inherently satisfying and convenient to power it on and start playing within a brief moment - and you can be anywhere (in any room) you happen to be in or feel like being in. All that plus the added convenience of getting great audio with headphones that don't need an extra long cord.

When I think about the Switch I cautiously imagine this as the perfect console for someone like me. One of my goals for the not too distant future is see about a way to eliminate the large "TV" screen from my life. One phone, one tablet/computer hybrid and a Nintendo Switch that has a robust Virtual Console library would cover all of my media and productivity needs.

It's interesting to see how "mobile" apps and games have continued to evolve and blur the lines between casual phone games and traditional portable console games. But like scotland mentioned I found my attention remains mostly fixed on traditional games with proper d-pad/button controls. If you don't count the requisite Chess app I can think of only four games that I consider worthy touch control Android games:

- Desert Golfing by Captain Games (turn on music or a podcast and just play... it never ends.)
- Pixel Dungeon (might be considered a Rogue-lite but you still won't beat it. F-Droid library)
- 2048 is one of the few puzzle games with great design aesthetic that has grabbed me (F-Droid library)
- Vector Pinball (clean sounding chip tunes, great physics and multiple tables. F-Droid library)

Note: everything in the F-Droid library is free and usually also open source.

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Re: Mobile gaming, portable gaming and The Switch

Postby Voor » October 27th, 2016, 7:30 am

I had a DS at one point, and I used it 90% of the time in the bed instead of reading. If I traveled a lot, then I suppose I would have kept it. But I don't, and I don't like the idea of packing around stuff besides my wallet, keys, and no go for me.

One thing I do like about the switch, is the ability to play two player games with one unit. I can see that being fun at family functions when you don't feel like taking up a TV and making a big deal of it.

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Re: Mobile gaming, portable gaming and The Switch

Postby Rookie1 » November 1st, 2016, 6:45 am

I was listening to an interview with a Forbes game reviewer, and the Switch was brought up. The guy made some good points about it. In a nutshell he said, why now would Nintendo rely "innovation" once again, over just making a quality console that can compete in todays market? Just this once, so they can right some of the bad blood people have with Nintendo right now.

If you think about it, the Switch is one hell of a gamble. It promises a lot, and we still know ZERO about it. It comes out in just a few months, and we still have no idea really what it is and what it can do.

It will have its market, yes, but if it falters in any ways and sales for it are poor, will Nintendo abandon it like the WiiU or will they keep pushing it until the catches on?

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Re: Mobile gaming, portable gaming and The Switch

Postby scotland » November 1st, 2016, 8:12 am

I am still cautiously optimistic on The Switch.

The WiiU will have had, at least nominally, a 4 year life span if you count release date to announcement of a successor. Actively, well, yes, it seems that Nintendo really moved on toward the NX / Switch not long after Super Mario Maker about a year ago. I am unsure if 'abandon' is the best verb, but I really cannot find an argument against saying that. I think, as someone mentioned earlier, the WiiU might have a good 2nd life for retro gamers, much like the N64.

My opinion is that the WiiU had unrealized potential. The hardware was not flawed in the way the Virtual Boy was, nor was the controller such a liability. Instead, it came down to two things - marketshare, and software. Whether 3rd party support (which can be a function of marketshare), or just a preponderance of 1st party games (which like marketshare, is a function of how Nintendo invests, prices, markets, etc), the WiiU had high peaks from a few celebrated games, then droughts.

Nintendo seems to be Feast or famine, but always at the feast price, never the famine price. Price matters too. The Gameboy beat their competition (and think of the long term repurcussions of the dominance of the Gameboy over the Atari Lynx and even the Sega Game Gear which I think came out much later) in part due to aggressive pricing. However, Nintendo of today seems more risk averse than Nintendo was in the 80s and early 90s (which was less risk averse than Sega was).

The Switch could follow the same pattern. If priced too high, marketed too poorly, too few 3rd party, too few 1st party to make up the deficit, etc. Four years from now, we could be right here saying "If only" about it. From my perspective, the concept seems wonderful for my family and my gaming styles, but in the end, other things will trump the hardware. How is it priced? What 3rd party games will it have (and I don't mean just 3rd party mega titles like Madden or Assassins Creed - even mid tier, downloadable indies, movie tie-in skins of other games, shovelware sports games, etc all have a place in a diverse gaming library.)

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Re: Mobile gaming, portable gaming and The Switch

Postby bluenote » November 1st, 2016, 9:48 am

It's funny, for the past little while I was really into portable gaming and now I've really gotten away from it. I couldn't put my finger on it, but I just recently realized why: I could never fully get into a portable game because of all the distractions. I have kids and a wife, so free time is at a premium, but we I do pick up the 3DS, there is so much going on around me that I couldn't focus. I would sometimes play on the couch while my wife watches a show that I'm not into. However, I'm distraced by the tv, and her chatting, the dog, and other stuff. However, if I just go to the basement, dim the lights, I can fully immerse myself in a console game and be in the zone.

I know portable gaming is meant for small increments, but I don't really want to play a game anymore for just 10 or 15 minutes. I want to play for an hour or two. If I can't find time to do that in a particular day, I just won't play.

Having said that though, I'm very excited about the Switch. I don't think I'll use the portable as often as I thought I would, but I can definately see my kids using it.

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Re: Mobile gaming, portable gaming and The Switch

Postby ptdebate » November 2nd, 2016, 12:12 am

I'd just like to take this moment to say that turn-based JRPGs are fantastic on iOS! I'm playing through Final Fantasy IX right now on my iPhone. Amazing port that looks and plays far better than the original.

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Re: Mobile gaming, portable gaming and The Switch

Postby eneuman96 » November 2nd, 2016, 4:36 pm

Mobile gaming is surprisingly similar to the Atari 2600 era prior to the video game crash of 1983: the market is getting flooded with cheaply made, poorly designed, overly simplistic games to cash in on a profitable trend.

That's not to say every mobile game is terrible. Take FTL on iPad for example: this version of the popular indie roguelike starship combat game is arguably better than the PC version due to the interface being streamlined for touchscreens without being dumbed down, while having the added benefit of being a version of the game you can take anywhere with you. Take notes, developers: this is how you do a mobile port, not by slapping a virtual controller on the screen and calling it a day.

Nintendo's Switch is practically the antithesis of mobile gaming: its library clearly consists of console titles on an optionally portable screen. However, Super Mario Run and their other upcoming mobile games seem to be Nintendo's way of getting back into the good graces of casual gamers and younger audiences and convincing them to buy the Switch. "Hey, want to play more games like this, but bigger and better? Try our new system!"

Hey, it's a better idea than their marketing (or lack thereof) for the Wii U.

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