The next generation of handhelds is upon us. With the 3DS in its infancy and the PlayStation Vita getting ready to launch in Japan later this year, the handheld market seems about ready to take off. But a lot of industry analysts are saying that this round of handheld consoles may be the last. Why? Because people have gotten into a new medium: cell phone games. While even old cell phones used to have standbys like BrickBreaker and Solitaire, the cell phone game has evolved. If you're not into mobile gaming yet, here are five reasons why you should be.
5. Cultural Significance
I'm not one to say you should do something just because everyone else is doing it, but you can't deny the cultural impact certain mobile games have had on society. Just look at Angry Birds. This past year's Video Game Awards had a skit all about this mobile game (although it was woefully executed). And it doesn't end there. Just walking through the mall you can see Angry Birds plushies, T-shirts, and even a board game. Games on mobile devices are becoming part of our cultural lexicon, and if you want to know what everyone's talking about these days, you have to get into them.
4. Time Commitment Issues
The handheld medium has generally been about small gameplay experiences. Tetris became such a staple because you could pick it up, play it for ten or twenty minutes, and then forget about it. However, as the handheld generations wore on, the goal shifted to providing small console-like experiences. You can't just pick up a game like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D or God of War: Ghost of Sparta and play them for just a few minutes at a time. These games require a substantial time investment, and, for better are worse, are not easily put down. Mobile gaming, on the other hand, provides 60-90 second snippets of gaming that fit conveniently into the boring moments of your life. Games like Cut the Rope and Fruit Ninja provide entertainment on such a bite-sized scale that it becomes almost a no-brainer to whip out a cell phone when you are bored and start playing. You simply can't get that type of instant gratification on a handheld console.
3. Cheap and Easily Obtainable Games
I don't like to admit it, but like most red-blooded Americans, I am a cheapskate. I don't like paying $40 for a handheld game, and before I take the plunge, there's a certain amount of thinking I have to do. And even if I decide to spend my hard-earned cash on a video game, there's still the matter of hauling myself to the local game store, waiting in line, paying for the thing, and then getting back home. It's a process that is time-honored, for sure, but still quite inconvenient. Mobile gaming, however, offers a better way. Pretty much every game mentioned in this article has a 99-cent price tag and is available for you to purchase and download in only a few moments. It is convenient, cheap, and easy to justify in your head if you need it right that second. Sure, buy enough 99-cent games and it adds up, but think of it this way: you could buy 20 DSiWare/Virtual Console/PSP Minis (which average about $5 each), or 100 of these bite-size mobile games. Even when you compare digital distribution methods on the handheld consoles with mobile offerings, the latter almost always will win out. There are simply more games to explore, and they are almost always cheaper.