Xbox Exec Thinks Handhelds Are a Bad Bet

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They are, between free flash games, tablets, and the power of phones there is no longer a place for a dedicated handheld gaming device.

awww, and I was hoping for a handheld kinect.

On a more serious note, the ToS from Nintendo's 3DS will keep me from buying it and I haven't heard enough about Sony's PSV to convince me it's worth the purchase. Microsoft would probably have better luck making a game oriented Zune.

lithium.jelly:
I'm most concerned that a Microsoft exec is telling us where he wants to put his wood.

Darn it, I only came to comment to make that dick joke.

Anyway, I like having an all in one device. Never really considered à handheld until now, and since I have my Android phone, I probably never will. I carry around too much stuff anyway. I can see why people like them though, but I understand Microsoft's position. Not everyone NEEDS to join the portable device war, there's enough competition as is without stretching the already few good developers thin.

rembrandtqeinstein:
They are, between free flash games, tablets, and the power of phones there is no longer a place for a dedicated handheld gaming device.

But the vast majority of tablets and smart phones are TERRIBLE for gaming on. Touch screens + no actual buttons + terrible games = EWWW.

There'll be a place for dedicated handheld gaming devices until the other options get their shit together.

3DS sales are disappointing because Nintendo was stupid and thought releasing the thing in the middle of the year with a high price tag would be a good idea. It will probably pick up during the holiday season.

Saltyk:

Shadow-Phoenix:

Saltyk:

Yeah, but Microsoft is probably worried that between the Sony and Nintendo handhelds, and the smartphones, they can't find a market. Makes perfect sense. Sony and Nintendo can survive in the market as they have established products. At least, I hope they can. It would really suck if smartphones destroyed handheld systems, due to the popularity of casual games.

Don't worry as much about that last part of casuals over unning us because there are more of us gamers than the casual core so i doubt the smart phones will outdo our handheld systems.

The problem, as I hear it, is that casual games are very cheap to make compared to traditional games. And with smart phones, they can be delivered directly to the consumer for a small cost. On any handheld, you have to go to a store and buy physical media. The cost of a casual game is generally cheap, so it's more of an impulse buy.

I also doubt that there are more hardcore gamers than casual gamers. Most hardcore gamers would be willing to buy a casual game on their phone to play while they wait in lines or in an office. If anything the casual market is far larger.

In the end, casual games could take a bite out of the handheld market simply by making developers decide that its more cost effective and profitable to produce casual games. Though, I don't see handheld systems dieing anytime soon.

Even if the casuals are of higher number i really don't see them as a direct threat unless of course the hardcore market is wiped out (in another universe perhaps) just from slapped together casual games, but yeah your right on the handheld's not dying out anytime soon.

for those of you definding the life and honour of dedicated handhelds, saying 'this isnt where we want to invest our money at the moment' does not mean anyone is saying hand held gaming is dead, eventually when dedicated devices fade out completely it wont be because you were swallowed up by smart phones and the casual gamer crowd, but because the core gaming crowd as a whole embraced integrated tech, its a while away so you got time to get used to it.

Microsoft, you DO realize that Nintendo and Sony are making a crap ton of money from their handhelds, right?

And yet they publicly announced the other day they plan to ride the same XBox tech for the next 4-7 years. So they aren't spending money on handhelds, they aren't pushing new console tech. They are just sitting back and being reactionary instead of innovative.

They should be pushing the next gen by now, but instead they are stagnating the market and community.

Sounds about right. 360 is still going strong and will for a long while. Handheld gaming on the other hand, with the current economy, there aren't many parents who can afford to replace their kid's handheld game device twice a year. Nintendo is making a mistake by shitting out a new handheld every few months, a big one, and it's gonna come back and bite them. This economy is the time to be conservative as a business, not the time to launch 3 new hand-helds and a new console in a year and a half.

double post.

People can throw their hats in with smart phones and Mobile devices if they want too, but it really is a shame that they are stubbing their own toe for their own enjoyment. Sure you can find some entertaining games for a good value on your mobile platform. However Quantity does not mean quality and I am just not seeing the titles for mobile devices keeping pace with their dedicated game device counterparts.

There are some Extremely good games for the DS, if your just a casual gamer with a low budget I can see where you are coming from. However if gaming is becoming more of a passion for you, then I dare say you are going to be a thirsty man in a very large desert if you stay in the mobile crowd.

Games like infinite Space, Advance Wars, Animal Crossing, Kirby, Devil Survivor, The world Ends with you, Mario Kart...the list kinda goes on with strategy games, Role playing games and the like.

It could be argues that some of the best games in their Genre are at home on the portable console. The same can not be said about most Mobile games. they lack the proper interface, power and developer support.

Some say that's changing. I don't see it, I see big company's sniffing for the money, trying to conform really great games to a platform not designed for them to make a buck. Smart phones are great.

But they are just a phone...you don't do stock racing in a ford Focus, yes its a car...but you get a car built for stock racing. As of yet, the same holds true for video games. You CAN game on your T1 calculator...but you would probably take a game boy any day of the week.

Reminds me of the old Aesop's fable of the fox trying desperately to get at a bunch of grapes but couldn't so he declared they were probably sour anyways.

The similarities are uncanny.

I would certainly think that handhelds were a bad bet if my competition were Nintendo and Sony, and the only real special thing I could contribute to hand helds was Halo...

Handhelds are a great market (if you're nintendo). I don't know what Microsoft is talking about.

clearly this dude wasn't around in the Gameboy days, if you ask me

I'm inclined to agree with Microsoft, at least in my case.

I still play my DS, but I haven't brought a game for it that wasn't pre-owned since...well I can't even remember. I've brought brand new games of my console, mainly because of the extra's and that they looked worthwhile. However I have friends who are loyal to Nintendo and such and will buy their games new.

Also, mobile gaming has had an effect, not as uch as made out here though. Generally speaking those who play games on a phone aren't going to ignore other handhelds, or weren't interested in them in the first. Again I'm going on this by what I have seen.

Bottom line, fanbase is important.

Handhelds are still a much better idea than smartphones, and what's this? Windows Phone 7? GTFO and come back when you have a handheld device that doesn't cost something insane like $50 a month to keep working just so I can play some crap that could have been submitted to Newgrounds.

He's covering his ass with PR Spin: Microsoft has already barely dipped their toes into the Handheld market and failed as a result.
Simply put: They privately know that the Handheld market is and has been successful, but they are rationalizing their business decision to avoid looking inept (which they are in this case).

Fun fact Microsoft: The 3DS's sales aren't as strong because of a lack of software; yet, rather than shorting the supply of hardware (as is typical with so many console launches in the past) Nintendo is getting enough systems into the market BEFORE they launch their planned Christmas blitz of software.
It's a very sound business strategy, and is likely to make far more profit than what Microsoft is implying with their claims.

They should just bite the bullet and jump in with Apple iOS.

So in other words Microsoft isn't going to make a handheld.

Like that's news, and I have no idea what he's talking about. The only reason the 3DS is doing poorly is because it has a gimmick attached to it and it lacks 'need to have games', and the Vita? Does he come from the future or something? No one knows how that will do so unless he's making a very fantastically bad PR spin, he doesn't know what he's talking about.

I actually LIKE that MS has this stance. Nintendo is going in a weird direction that I absolutely hate. I was wary about the Wii, but after a few years and some promising upgrades to what it is meant for / capable of, it's grown into its own and I am very happy with the one sitting next to my TV right now... But the Wii U is to the Wii what your girlfriend suggesting a big black strap-on is to her getting squirrelly with her finger once in a while. I have absolutely zero desire for it and seeing it with its stupid buttons below the control sticks literally makes me want to scream. I never scream in outright rage, even at video games, but that piece of shit makes me violently angry. It's like that one guy you know - you don't really know what you hate about him, but you know you hate his stupid jerk face and his stupid jerk attitude and his stupid jerk clothes.

Anyway, I gave handhelds a try, but considering I never fly anywhere or take trains or something that requires me to sit in one place that isn't my home for an extended period of time, I just get BORED with handhelds. I ended up selling my DS because I'd be playing Super Mario 64 DS or Metroid Prime Hunters and end up just playing a similar counterpart in a more fleshed out way on a console.

Nintendo can do what it likes. I don't care. As long as Microsoft understands that console gaming with an actual goddamn controller is like the BASE enjoyment of video gaming and should never ever go away, I am happy.

Call me close minded, a knucklehead or even a jerk, but I don't think that cellphones or an iPod Touch / iPad / iPhone (included in cellphones) could ever, ever replace a good ol' handheld. I mean, yeah, the appstore games are stupidly cheap and incredibly accesible, but I've yet seen a game that really, really takes advantage of the system beyond it's graphics or sliding your finger for something stupid.

Heck, Infinity Blade is just Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! dressed with a different coat of paint.
I even dare to say that everything that's being made for the iDevices so far is just gimmicky.

What I mean is that there's nothing yet in the iDevices that's not worth buying it for. Anything that the iDevices can do, the DS, 3DS and even the PSVita can do better.

Well, I kind of have to agree. With phones and tablets and who-knows-what's-coming-next having such a vast library of games, handhelds devoted exclusively to gaming are going to be going by the wayside.

Heck, look at the sales of the 3DS compared to the DS. Granted, the launch library isn't so great for the 3DS, but you'd expect sales to gradually increase as more titles get released for it...but that hasn't happened nearly as much as Nintendo was expecting. And honestly, I think developers and publishers are beginning to see this as well. Square-Enix already is working on iOS versions of their older titles, with more surely to follow. Who knows what other publishers are going to work on when they catch on as well?

SupahGamuh:
Call me close minded, a knucklehead or even a jerk, but I don't think that cellphones or an iPod Touch / iPad / iPhone (included in cellphones) could ever, ever replace a good ol' handheld. I mean, yeah, the appstore games are stupidly cheap and incredibly accesible, but I've yet seen a game that really, really takes advantage of the system beyond it's graphics or sliding your finger for something stupid.

Heck, Infinity Blade is just Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! dressed with a different coat of paint.
I even dare to say that everything that's being made for the iDevices so far is just gimmicky.

What I mean is that there's nothing yet in the iDevices that's not worth buying it for. Anything that the iDevices can do, the DS, 3DS and even the PSVita can do better.

Oh, nobody is denying that the devoted handhelds can do it better. But that's not at all the point. iOS and Android development is much cheaper than developing for handhelds, for one. There's also such a greater prevalence of users - everybody and their mother has Angry Birds, and you can bet that if someone says "oh, you like Angry Birds? Check out this game!" then they'll do so. And so on and so forth. Plus there's a tremendous amount of overlap between the two audiences. In broad terms, people who purchase handheld gaming devices are also likely to have a smart phone. Yes, there are exceptions, monetary concerns, etc. but generally speaking this is the case. So if you make a successful transition from one to the other, you not only get your already-existing audience but you also get a very large untapped one as well.

You're also looking at it the wrong way if you think the goal is to make something that makes the iDevice worth buying it for. It's not like the 3DS where Ocarina of Time had everyone all excited and made people want to get the handheld just for the game. It's more a matter of getting the people already there.

And honestly, games not taking advantage of the platform isn't the fault of the platform itself, it's the fault of the developers and publishers. Look at the Wii - how many games took adequate advantage of its motion controls? The only ones I actually liked and thought did a good job were the Metroid games. Everything else was essentially "normal" game with the motion controls tacked on. But is that the fault of Nintendo or the fault of the developers who weren't creative enough to take advantage of it and the publishers who wouldn't dare risk money on something that did more than require an occasional waggle? Infinity Blade was an example of what's possible graphics-wise with the mobile platforms. And they made more money off of that than they did with Shadow Complex, a fantastic XBLA Metroidvania-style game. Shadow Complex is undeniably the better game, but it also took more time and money to produce and made much less money in return.

It'll get better as more people take advantage of it. Square-Enix has already announced they're going to bring some older titles to it, and I for one am really, really hoping that they release FF Tactics for the Android - they already said they're going to bring it to iOS. More people will jump ship simply because it's more cost-effective to do so, and once they do then we'll start seeing better and better titles.

Well the PSP only has a few games that are really worth playing (the 2 God of Wars, Kingdom Hearts and Patapon in my opinion) and the DS is doing even worse so they might be on to something.

Well the PSP only has a few games that are really worth playing (the 2 God of Wars, Kingdom Hearts and Patapon in my opinion) and the DS is doing even worse so they might be on to something.

I disagree as I am eagerly awaiting the release of the Vita.

I agree with the above posters though, MS failed at handheld gaming so they just brush it off as a bad bet instead of trying again.

Dexiro:
In other words, Microsoft don't think they can get into the handheld gaming market, so they're going to rip into those that can.

Handhelds are doing fine ~

Oh sure, they're doing fine, but the question is whether it's worth putting all that new investment into it. With Sony's new Vita and development for the 3DS, it feels like money wasted. I've really lost count of how many iterations of handhelds we've had over what feels like a single generation. The PSP, The PSP GO (which was abandoned by Sony, figure that one out) and now the Vita, with Nintendo having made the DS, the DSi, the DSi XL, and now the 3DS. And probably a 3DSi in the next year or so.

Really, the amount of rehashes is almost pathetic. It makes me question why two of the big three are pumping so much money into the handheld market. Not to mention that by doing so they are actively competing with Apple and other handheld platforms. It just puzzles me and i can't help but feel that perhaps the industry has got itself in a rut. Maybe it still thinks the handheld market is a cash cow, or maybe they're just having troubles transitioning into the next generation. Smart money says the next "big thing" will be 3D. I can't help but suspect the big three are looking to the 3DS and to a lesser extent Sony(Killzone 3 being a prominent example of the start of home console 3D display), to see how integration will be received. The 3DS is essentially an experiment. A really expensive experiment. The fact sales for it are under-performing suggests that 3D is not having as big of an impact as the industry giants had hoped. This means they can't afford to focus on the next generation just yet and so prolong their profiteering with a different market - the handheld. Microsoft are even doing this, to a degree, with their Windows Phone 7 or whatever it is.

The problem people are having with this statement is that they're not looking at the bigger picture. They're thinking of the present and the past, not the future. Sony and Nintendo might be putting on the squeeze right now, but as with any industry, it's all about investment. The handheld market is a dead end. People want the PS4, not the Vita. Nintendo wised up; they went ahead with the WiiU. But they had the advantage of starting early, and they payed the price for it. The declined sales for the 3DS is evidence of this decline in the handheld market. It's reaching saturation point. Sony's playing catch-up, only it's not seeing the writing on the wall. The Vita will do just as poorly as the 3DS.

Thank goodness. I hate, hate, HATE handheld exclusives. It just isn't comfortable playing a handheld for 10 hours at a time, it is far more comfortable to relax and play a console game. Handhelds force you to hold your hands in a certain position relative to your face to play, console games don't. I have to choose between tired arms or a sore neck when playing handhelds. The only advantage handhelds offer is mobility, and comfort is far more important to me. Making a good game exclusive on handhelds when it could easily be ported to a console pretty much guarantees I won't play it, regardless of how much I want too. If they refuse to make a handheld, it just means there will be less good game concepts being wasted on handhelds.

RelexCryo:
Thank goodness. I hate, hate, HATE handheld exclusives. It just isn't comfortable playing a handheld for 10 hours at a time, it is far more comfortable to relax and play a console game. Handhelds force you to hold your hands in a certain position relative to your face to play, console games don't. I have to choose between tired arms or a sore neck when playing handhelds. The only advantage handhelds offer is mobility, and comfort is far more important to me. Making a good game exclusive on handhelds when it could easily be ported to a console pretty much guarantees I won't play it, regardless of how much I want too. If they refuse to make a handheld, it just means there will be less good game concepts being wasted on handhelds.

Even if the handheld came with equipment that allowed you to play them on a TV?

EverythingIncredible:

RelexCryo:
Thank goodness. I hate, hate, HATE handheld exclusives. It just isn't comfortable playing a handheld for 10 hours at a time, it is far more comfortable to relax and play a console game. Handhelds force you to hold your hands in a certain position relative to your face to play, console games don't. I have to choose between tired arms or a sore neck when playing handhelds. The only advantage handhelds offer is mobility, and comfort is far more important to me. Making a good game exclusive on handhelds when it could easily be ported to a console pretty much guarantees I won't play it, regardless of how much I want too. If they refuse to make a handheld, it just means there will be less good game concepts being wasted on handhelds.

Even if the handheld came with equipment that allowed you to play them on a TV?

yeah, like for years people wanted a Super Smash Bros. on the DS but it takes Nintendo a long ass time to develop it, so as soon as the Kid Icarus is released, Nintendo are gonna let the developer develop a new Super Smash Bros. for the WiiU and 3DS, I'm assuming it's cross-platform play, it'd be weird if it isn't.

While casual games do have better cost/profit ratios and more regular income than the traditional handheld games, the issue there is that most of them are totally reliant on popular game trends established by the innovators (and even the innovators just copy themselves once they strike gold), so overall, they're just echoes of the real games that they take their cues from.

It's going to be even worse for their market once their core gets tired of the same thing for the twentieth time and their direction is pulled elsewhere by the next trend.

While people may think that apps are the wave of the future, it will take real creative strength by the forerunners (or those who learn from them) to continually build on the quality so that their work isn't eventually taken for granted and thrown away just as easily as they were picked up.

3DS' problem is because there are few, if any, decent games for it. MS could probably get some decent launch titles, probably something under the Halo franchise, and it'd be fine. They just don't want to develop a new console. I don't really see why they should, though, because shooters are no fun on handhelds, and MS doesn't own any decent RPGs or strategy game developers I can think of. At least any more... if only there was a studio that made excellent strategy games... one that hadn't been disbanded...

jck4332:
Yes, the obvious solution is to compete with the PS3, Wii/Wii U and the PC instead of the handheld market which only has 2 competitors.

To be fair, they hold a substantial voice on the PC, considering most people use XP or Win7 to game. It's kinda hard to compete with yourself. Also... the 360 is already out. Yeaaaaah.

jck4332:
Yes, the obvious solution is to compete with the PS3, Wii/Wii U and the PC instead of the handheld market which only has 2 competitors.

There is a difference between trying to improve your position in a market in which you are already established and getting a foothold in a market that is almost completely held between two iron fists.

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