The tension between phone gaming and handheld systems has been pretty thick as of late. Many would argue that the rise of phone gaming – in large part to iOS – has played a major role in the decline of dedicated gaming handhelds. To a certain degree that’s an accurate statement, though I think the “decline of dedicated handhelds” is exaggerated just a little. Regardless, it’s a bit silly to think that these two gaming platforms can’t coexist; Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune shares that sentiment.
In an interview with Joystiq’s Ben Gilbert, Inafune compared the two to cell phone cameras and dedicated cameras stating that “You don’t use a Smartphone camera for an interview, and you don’t use a really professional camera to take some small pictures when you’re going to work.” The difference in quality and function is quite clear.
He goes on to say that “If you want to play a good game, you get a PS3 or Xbox or that kind of thing. You don’t stay on your iPhone or on a Smartphone game for three or five hours, nobody would do that.” Based on my own gaming habits, that’s an undeniably true statement. There’s no reason for those two sectors of the industry to be at odds because, theoretically, they’re relegated to very different gaming experiences.
Though it’s not an altogether new angle, Inafune makes a solid argument. His desire is for a future where games are developed to suit their audiences. Phone games don’t need to, and shouldn’t be aiming to deliver console-caliber experiences. Likewise, console games don’t need to take the dollar menu approach we see on phones.
The issue, it seems, is that there’s a pressure on both platforms to become more than is required of them. Gaming hardware manufacturers are eager to drive sales by reaching this phone-toting market, and phone manufacturers know there’s a legion of gamers craving accessible portable gaming. While I would love to see a gaming market where both dedicated hardware and phones can succeed in tandem, this increased requirement for a “successful” platform maybe inhibiting that future.
Regardless, it’s a noble desire and, as one who is currently developing games for smartphones, Inafune is well on his way to making an impact in that space.