Handheld Gaming is Over: We Think Not

Handheld Gaming is Over: We Think Not

Last week, Midori Yuasa, the President of Capcom Interactive, declared that handheld gaming is over. Long live mobile games.

“The casual gamer that used to play on the PC,” Yuasa told MCV in an interview, “and the hardcore gamer that used to play on a dedicated gaming portable now plays on their smartphone.” She also said that Capcom will be upping its support for the iPhone tremendously in 2011.

Capcom Interactive develops and distributes games for mobile phones, so it stands to reason that Yuasa would want to throw her full weight behind the fledgling platform. But her statements about the PC and handheld gaming market reveal that she doesn’t understand a lot about Capcom’s own history, its current works, or the game industry as a whole.

First: “Casual gamers used to play on the PC?” FarmVille says hello, Yuasa. So does PopCap Games and NeoPets.

Second: What about hardcore gamers and their PC’s? We’ve seen the rise of game consoles, handhelds, and mobile gaming, and PC gamers are still very faithful to their computers.

Third: If “hardcore gamers” have moved on from handheld systems, someone ought to tell Capcom, as they were among the earliest third party developers to declare support for the Nintendo 3DS. Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition is over, guys. Wander off to find your next challenger, Ryu. Oh, and forget about Ghost Trick and Okamiden for the Nintendo DS. Nobody wants ’em.

As for the consistently strong sales behind the Monster Hunter franchise on the PSP, those numbers are an illusion. The entire nation of Japan was just humoring you, Capcom.

Everybody wants to work for the winning team, and right now, mobile gaming is a big winner. But it’s simply occupying space beside Nintendo and Sony. Nobody’s in a rush to throw down their PCs, their consoles, their DS’s and PSP’s forever to pick up an iPhone. To that end, Yuasa’s declaration might be seen as the words of a fangirl who got a little over-eager. But digging a bit deeper, we can see that her statement also harms Capcom by dismissing all the hard work the company has put into its games for the Nintendo DS, 3DS, and PSP.

That’s a sad, misinformed thing to do, and it’s just plain not nice.

About Nadia Oxford
Nadia is a freelance writer living in Toronto. She played her first game at four, decided games were awesome, and has maintained her position since. She writes for 1UP.com, Slide to Play, GamePro and other publications, and is About.com’s Guide to the Nintendo DS.

2 Comments

  1. You have good arguments, but it does depend on the way you look at it.
    Of course handheld gaming isn’t over… Midori Yuasa is wrong. We have a PSP2 and a 3DS to show for that.

    But you can’t ignore the fact that Apple is opening up the market with great games for less money. If you add up the price of hardware and software, Apple isn’t even that expensive, especially if you buy an Ipod Touch witch lets you play all the games without a fancy phone. The Iphone Touch is actually a competitor for Sony and Nintendo.
    And as Sony is also bringing out a PSP phone (the Xperia play) I wonder if we’re not going into a hybrid market altogether. Where there’s not that much of a difference between mobile gaming and handheld gaming. The phone is becoming just another option (instead of a few years ago, where games were just an option on a phone).

  2. Before social games most of the people who played games would download downloadable games and play those. Big Fish Games is still the biggest distributor of casual games, but they are not growing as much as they once were. Social and free games have taken a lot of the market away from the traditional downloadable games in a sense, but people are still playing games on the computer. Cloud / browser based gaming is the future. For casual and core games. I think it’s fair what Capcom said about PC games. Look at retail stores: PC shelf space is nothing compared to what is given to console games. PC gaming has largely divorced itself from retail. Online distributors like BFG may one day soon be forced to evolve as consumers expect to be able to play new casual games completely online and on any device. Steam may be forced to do this as well as technology advanced and more things become possible.

    The problem with “handheld” games (in the sense of the NDS or PSP) is that they require dev kits to make games for, while “mobile” devices such as the iPhone do not have such barriers to entry. Growth is more possible with more open devices. Many companies are realizing this and their newer devices support more open channels of distribution (such as NGP supporting Android apps). Handheld in the old sense will die out and everything will be open… eventually. I think this is what Yuasa was getting at, though she does seem like she’s just saying some things other people want to hear. 🙂

    I would buy Monster Hunter on any device it was released. Monster Hunter is the type of game which sells devices. The day Monster Hunter gets the Quake Live treatment will be big.

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