September 7, 2012

Video Games Shift From Console To Tablet

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Over the years, no matter what has happened to us as a society, we´ve loved to play video games. One thing that has changed drastically during the same period, however, is the platform on which we play these games. What was once only possible on giant units in arcades and pizza parlors is now common place on thin slabs of glass and plastic in our pockets. What´s more, the technology packed into these slabs far exceeds that found in the dimly lit gaming parlors of yesteryear.

Now, other companies who once had nothing to do with gaming, namely Amazon and Apple, have obviously found this to be a profitable market. For instance, Amazon announced a new line of Kindle Fire tablets yesterday, the Kindle Fire HD.

In addition to these HD tablets, Amazon also announced their cloud-syncing service, called Whispersync, which will now support games as well, making the Kindle Fire HD a portable, always up-to-date gaming device. Likewise, Apple has been in the gaming “game” since the first days of the App store. Their new, rumored iPad Mini could further encroach on an already cramped gaming market as gamers would be able to choose between a 4-inch, 8-inch, or 10-inch screen on which to battle zombies or flick foul.

USA Today has a piece today explaining this now crowded market, which will soon include the WikiPad, the first tablet dedicated to gaming.

According to USA Today, consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers has estimated American spending on mobile wireless games is expected to reach $1.4 billion in 2014, up from $900 million last year.

Part of what makes these tablet´s so popular for gaming is their multi-featured ability, says Michael Allenson of Maritz Research.

"Consumers going on a trip with their children think of buying a video player or personal game system and say, 'Why buy that when a tablet allows me to do games, movies, and other things?´ “ said Allenson, speaking to USA Today.

A separate study by the NPD group came to a similar conclusion. While American gaming has fallen by 5% this year, mobile gaming has continued to thrive as these numbers have now surpassed what they call “core gamers.”

“Given the long lifecycles of the current consoles and the increasing installed base of smartphones and tablets, it´s not surprising to see a slight decline in the core gamer segment,” said NPD Group video game industry analyst Anita Frazier.

In addition to extreme portability, tablets are powerful devices capable of performing other tasks and functions. So, in the scenario laid out by Allenson, parents who let their kids play games on a tablet can later use the same device to look up directions, find the closest gas station, and even check on their social media sites, all while their kids are asleep, all on the same device.

The WikiPad is yet another example of this kind of diversity in tablets. Complete with an attachable joystick for gaming and an integrated Tegra 3 processor, the WikiPad also runs Android and is capable of performing the same tasks as any other tablet.

Additionally, the WikiPad users can play games from both the Google Play Store and Sony´s Playstation Mobile games store.

“There is a big gap in the market for a crossover device that is really focused at the mobile gaming console market, but that happens to be a really good tablet as well," says Wikipad CEO James Bower, speaking to USA Today.

While tablets may be squeezing out more “traditional” gaming platforms, reports such as these can also be used to make a broader point: In the same way those parents see the tablet as the perfect, multi-functional travel device, it´s likely many other see the tablet as the perfect combination of form and function, the one device capable of doing almost everything they´ve ever wanted to do with computing technology.