Thursday, January 19, 2006

A 3rd Portable Gaming Device?

There were no analysts involved in this article by Gamasutra, but I thought it was interesting and a good read nonetheless. Gamasutra asked its audience, "What hardware capabilities and software would be needed for a third company to create a competitive rival to the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP, and which companies might be capable of doing so? Should they try?"

Plenty of interesting submissions and Apple and Microsoft were mentioned the most, "with many readers citing Xbox Live and iTunes as superior distribution mediums." Here was my favorite:

Well, I think that there are two companies who would be able to handle marketing and developing a competitive rival to the current handheld systems. The first is obvious... Microsoft. I know they backed Gizmondo to some degree, but that thing really wasn't nearly up to competition standards. If the big "M" released an online handheld system, with two analog sticks, USB, digital audio and video outputs, and its own little corner of Xbox Live complete with ranking and matchmaking for every game, I don't think the PSP or DS could hold a candle to it. The handheld would have to be at least as crisp as the PSP, but it wouldn't necessarily have to be graphically that much better. Although with the technologies available at this point, they might easily be able to come up with more power than the PSP. It would have to include all of the functionality of the PSP and then some.

My other choice for a capable company would be Apple. The iPod is an amazing phenomenon, and the video iPod is quite slick in itself. If Apple took multi-threaded tech and stuffed it into a sleek, dual stick handheld, they could be onto something. What if you could stream your iTunes playlist wirelessly onto the handheld and use them for custom soundtracks in any game. Apple would have to appeal to way more than just gamers by having a large hard drive and the ability to download music and movies directly to the handheld. It would need video/voice chat and the support of many third party developers before launch.
Should they try? Microsoft should, yes. They have the money and at least every Xbox owner will contemplate buying it if it is fully useful in combination with the 360. To be honest, unless the tech was mind numbingly absurd, I couldn't bring myself to purchase another cheesily-promoted Apple mass market-appealing product.
-William Nadel, Heavy Iron Studios
I'm not a big Microsoft fan (although I do use XP and a Window Mobile 3 smartphone), and have remained loyal to Sony's gaming platforms, but I have to agree that Microsoft has the ingredients to produce a killer portable gaming device that incorporates XBOX Live. Online mulitplayer is where it's at for mobile gaming IMHO. Maybe by the time Microsoft launches its XBOX Portable, I'll have enough spare change for a third portable gaimng device in the household....