Monday, August 23, 2010

How Microsoft, Nintendo, And Sony Will Bring Portable Gaming to Mobile Computing Market

Some quick thoughts about mobile gaming in the age of app stores, casual gaming, and diminished support for portable gaming consoles, is it time to give thought to how Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo will go on. I see a merger of platforms, birth of new ones, and a salad of old tech mixed with the new.

Which is better?

Merger. This looks like what Sony is attempting to do. Somehow, the consumer tech superhouse is trying to merge the next generation PSP with Android. It seems like a natural thing for Sony to do. It does have a popular Playstation brand that it can leverage to entice users to its platform. At the same time, you have to wonder what will happen to the PSP2?

Salad of Tech. Zune, Xbox, Windows Phone 7. That’s exactly what Microsoft is hoping to do to smash any attempt by the iOS (iPhone, iPad) and Android platforms to take the market for itself. It is risk. In a way, it’s what Sony is kind of doing. It’s a big bet and it’s all in.

New. Nintendo is unlike to try to align itself with Android though there was previous talk about working with Nokia. If I’m Nintendo, I’d be very wary of that with Nokia seemingly all over the map these days trying to figure out what to do against the iPhone at the high-end of the mobile market. 3DS is not the solution. It’ll be further out before Nintendo can answer the challenges to its supremacy in the portable gaming market.

Advantages for the console makers. They’ve got a legacy army of games and followers so the Mario and Pokemon fans will always be there for Nintendo. Halo and other Microsoft exclusives will bend to the will of Redmond. Sony has its own apps and games so it’ll be fine in this regard. Plus, all three have supporting home consoles that they can leverage connectivity with as well as growing social networks.

Disadvantages. This is a bet-all-of-it situation. And it’s going against two trends. The iOS devices from Apple has shown it at new tech and innovation is key in keep customers happy. Plus, Apple has the “it just works” thing down packed. And secondly, gaming has changed. Hardcore gamers might be enticed by mobile devices from console makers but the market for casual gaming is only a part of the larger mobile crowd that want their devices to do other things well. I think Sony using a proven OS like Android should have less to fear but Sony knows of other ways it can shoot itself in the foot.

We’ll see later this year when WP7 goes on sale and 2011 and further out on what Sony and Nintendo has planned. More importantly, mobile gamers and warriors win as portable gaming and traditional mobile computing converges.

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