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Saturday, 14 September 2013

What would be the fate of PS Vita TV & other Microconsoles?

I bet if you open up any gaming website, you would definitely see at least a small coverage of a new consoles, either one of the big players or one of the new microconsoles. The gaming industry has been busy spreading its wings to cover the masses since the advent of the smartphone gaming phenomena, and the recent announcements of a host of new microconsoles based on android and otherwise is just another step in that direction. But the question that begs to be answered is whether these new breed of consoles would really entice the audience in loosening their purse strings.

Before we dwell into any discussion lets first understand the typical gamer and his preferred gaming machine. In gaming today, we can primarily divide the gaming masses in particularly two kind of players, the one who loves mostly hardcore consoles games and the other more casual player who is really fond of his Cut the Rope on his Tegra powered smartphone. This demarcation doesn’t mean that one doesn’t play the other type of game. In fact it is increasingly evident that more and more people are playing both kinds of games, people are playing more on their consoles and are also downloading more games on their smartphones. But does that mean that their expectations are the same when they game on these different devices. I bet they are very different.

When a person plugs in his console in his high definition TV, he is expecting to play a game, which is formed in a world hugely detailed and expansive and offers him a deeper gameplay experience. On the other hand, when he starts a game on his smartphone, generally he is looking just to kill time with that fun immersive game with very short play sessions. The experience that he expects to get as well as the time he is willing to invest in both the above cases is vastly different. This is where I believe that Microconsoles would struggle to find a foothold in the market.

Microconsoles aim to bridge the gap and bring the kind of games that are generally played on the run onto the TV screen. The games which are generally built with a very different expectation & which aims to offer the player a very different experience as compared to console games. The player would need to plug in his micro console into the TV, boot it up and then start playing the game, basically follow the same procedure that he can do for booting up his dedicated game console which would offer him a much more evolved game. Why would a person spend an equal amount of energy & time to access something which is inferior when he can do the same thing to access something much more superior?

Some may say that the games on these microconsoles are much simpler and casual to understand than the console games, which may prompt a lot of people to buy these systems. I would say that I don’t really visualize someone spending extra money to buy a system that plays the same games, which are already present on his phone. They may do so if their favorite phone games look much better on a larger TV screen, which brings me to my next question. Making a game look much better on a larger screen would involve much more development effort from developers. I wonder if a lot of developers are willing to put in the extra days to upgrade their games for systems that have a lesser-installed base and also in some instances are lesser powerful than even the phones.

The case may be a little different for PS Vita TV as compared to other micro consoles. PS Vita TV brings along with it a huge catalogue of 1000+ games including some of the awesome PS1 games, which can be a huge incentive for the gamer. The difference between PS Vita TV and other Micro consoles is the already available catalogue of titles for it. Also Gakai is coming to PS4 and if Sony adds that functionality to PS Vita TV, it can be a winner. Also the ability to add a second screen functionality to PS4 as well as a low cost video streaming device for your TV (read Netflix), PS Vita TV may well be a good value proposition. 

The Android based Micro Consoles are facing an uphill task. They are getting into a space which is generally occupied with more high end gaming consoles and trying to entice users who are generally accustomed to gaming on their much more accessible smartphones. It would be interesting to see how they are going to generate demand and how they are going to place their USP. At present, they are in the middle of nowhere & they would need to come up quickly with their unique place in the landscape before the hype quickly dies.

Siddharth has been playing games since forever and loves it so much so he decided to make a profession out of it. After completing his MBA, he decided to join EA to learn the ropes of the industry. A Game Producer and Game Designer by profession, while not playing games, he loves to read about them, watch movies and spend quality time with his family. His passion for writing led to the creation of this blog.
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1 comment:

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